“I am nostalgic for letters. There’s a craft that’s been lost in expressing some kind of desire or passion or bodily experience for someone else.” From James Joyce to Frida Kahlo, The Guardian collects bits of great artists’ erotic missives to one another. And speaking of literary love letters, how about Nicholson Baker‘s Vox [ed. note: it makes a great Valentine’s Day gift]?
Learn more about Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Cao Wenxuan. “China has given us so many heartbreaking stories. How can you avoid writing about them? I can’t sacrifice my life experience in order to make children happy.” Pair with Edan Lepucki’s piece on the grown-up counterparts to children’s stories.
“A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also.” Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it’s because he has “a bit of the opposition in him.” This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it’s fairly difficult to obtain if you’re a prisoner. We’re big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
The Amherst College Archives have discovered what could be the second photograph in existence of Emily Dickinson.
“He is a man who has written a lot about politics and knows something about expectation-setting — set the bar low, and it’ll be easy to top it.” The Awl rounds up its review series of online Masterclasses with such esteemed personages as Aaron Sorkin, James Patterson, and Werner Herzog. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s review of Sorkin’s film The Social Network.
In the latest edition of By the Book, Neil Patrick Harris explains his love of Gone Girl, Steve Martin, and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’ve written about the series in the past — you might want to look back on the entries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Colson Whitehead.