Is it possible to figure out Shakespeare’s politics from his plays? At the very least, there’s a lot we can learn.
I really dug this write up of a visit by Edward P. Jones to a Seattle high school, where he talked to some kids about being a writer. I’m fascinated by Jones’ persona. He’s not a hermit, but neither is he a part of the more public contemporary literary crowd, all of whom seem to be associated with the same causes and who enjoy this sort of literary pseudo-fame while at the same time making a bit of a show about shying away from it. Of course I’m overgeneralizing here, but I’m sure you can think of some writers who might fit that description. I suppose my larger point is Jones seems to me to be a writer who, in an earlier time, would have only achieved fame late in his career or even posthumously, and I’m just really glad that he has gotten the acclaim that he deserves.I saw the movie Fever Pitch last night and enjoyed the way last year’s baseball season was woven into the story so well. It also made me very curious to read Nick Hornby’s novel by the same name, in which the protagonist is a rabid soccer fan. I’m not a big Hornby fan, but I’m very curious to see if they managed to swap out the sport at the center of the story while keeping the same overall feeling. Quite a feat if they managed to do a good job of it. One thing is clear though, trying to slap a movie tie-in cover on Hornby’s book wouldn’t have worked very well.Rodger Jacobs has set up a blog to track entries in his “Fitzgerald in Hollywood Short Fiction Contest.”Chicagoist looks at books “with local ties.” I’ve read All This Heavenly Glory and Gods in Alabama, but the third book The Week You Weren’t Here by Charles Blackstone sounds interesting.
Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson’s collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
E.V. de Cleyre writes for Ploughshares about sentimentality. As she puts it, “It is not enough to have a feeling and express it—we must exercise discernment, ask what these feelings we’re feeling are, dissect them, and find the language that matches how they look, feel, smell, and taste.” Pair with this Millions essay on literary sentiment.