“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee’s with Walker Evans.
“A continuation of a book that has proved very popular seldom is successful, and we cannot say that we think Alice’s adventures by any means equal to her previous ones.” The Guardian digs up its original review of Lewis Carroll‘s Through the Looking Glass.
“My whole life, I had used stories, both my own and other people’s, to check out of grocery store lines and long bus trips, stints in doctors’ waiting rooms, heartache, my own depression, and finally of the tedious exhaustion of new motherhood. Now, here I was in this 15-by-20 room, where monitors and alarms were constantly beeping, and there was no way out, except the unimaginable.” Alyson Foster, author of Heart Attack Watch, writes about her son’s illness and her love of reading.
“They say ‘kill your darlings,’ but I think darlings are your voice — your favorite parts, the parts you’d admire even if you didn’t write them. Why destroy what you love? If you feel that strongly about something you’ve written, pay attention!” Elisa Gabbert pens Electric Literature‘s “Blunt Instrument” column, which this month involves how to find one’s style as a writer. And for more scrivening advice, see our own columnists Swarm & Spark on the best way to seek feedback on your work,sending a memoir into the world, and whether writing a novel will jeopardize your mental health.
“By the time Mr. Bass bought the building for $8.2 million in 1997, the Strand had become the largest used-book store in the world.” Fred Bass, the owner of the Strand, has died at the age of 89. Bass — who bought used books with panicked fervor, opened up satellite kiosks, and created the fabled literary quiz for prospective employees — turned his father’s used bookstores into a New York City literary landmark.
“To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release.” Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.