Max Porter’s Death Is the Thing With Feathers is a bizarre, beautiful book. Over at The Literary Hub, he talks death, writing, and musical theater with Catherine Lacey. Porter’s book came highly recommended by Garth Risk Hallberg in his 2015 Year in Reading for The Millions.
Does a writer need a devoted spouse to be prolific? At The Atlantic, Koa Beck examines the concept of having a do-it-all partner like Vera Nabokov and if this traditional gender role only harms female writers. Koa interviews various writers, from Emma Straub to Ayelet Waldman, on how their literary partnerships work. “I’d fantasized that being his Vera was a way for me to deal with being stuck as a stay-at-home mom—I’d subsume my own ambitions into something ‘greater!’ But that lasted about 48 hours,” Waldman said.
Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil. And earlier: Bishop, translation, and the transmutation of loss.
Over in the New Statesmen, Ed Smith makes the case for increasing your productivity by making sure to get your R&R. He mentions Bertrand Russel’s In Praise of Idleness, which is my go to piece for arguing with myself against being too busy to argue with myself. Or would be, if only I could find the time.
Those of you with more than a passing familiarity with the Brothers Grimm will know that classic fairy tales were often dark and macabre. They’re considerably more frightening than the sanitized versions we read to our children today. At Salon, Maria Tatar talks to Laura Miller about her translation of The Turnip Princess, a new collection of previously undiscovered fairy tales. Sample quote: “There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms.” You could also read Kirsty Logan on the trouble with fairy tales.
Peter Matthiessen died today, according to a statement released by his publisher: “Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 PM on Saturday April 5, 2014 after an illness of some months.” Matthiessen was the author most notably of two National Book Award-winning volumes, the novel Shadow Country and in non-fiction The Snow Leopard.