Thanks to the work of archivists at The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, two scholars have unearthed a 1901 play by Edith Wharton called “The Shadow of a Doubt,” reports The Guardian. “After all this time, nobody thought there were long, full scale, completed, original, professional works by Wharton still out there that we didn’t know about. But evidently there are. In 2017, Edith Wharton continues to surprise.” Pair with this reflection on the role of New York City in Wharton’s novels.
Photographers who are tired of weddings should start shooting book covers. When New Directions asked to use one of Allen Frame's photos for the cover of Robert Bolaño's Last Evenings on Earth, he gave them access to his archive instead. Today, nine Frame photos have been used on Bolaño book covers. You can view them here or at New York City's Gitterman Gallery.
What do you do if you're Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you're Tolstoy, you'll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite," usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: "Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice)." And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions's perennially popular "Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who's Greater."
When The Counselor (trailer here) opens in theaters this month, the occasion will mark a career milestone for Cormac McCarthy. The 80-year-old novelist has been writing original screenplays since the 1970s, but only one of them – a made-for-TV movie called The Gardener’s Son – was produced before this latest effort. Over at The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter takes a look at the author’s involvement in the production of The Counselor, as well as its reception by several film industry insiders and devout McCarthy fans. ("McCarthy writing a sex scene is maybe not a great idea," one of them says.)
"Time goes all stretchy in the Twittersphere, just as it does in those folk songs in which the hero spends a night with the queen of the faeries and then returns to find that 100 years have passed and all his friends are dead…" Margaret Atwood talks Twitter with Robert McCrum.
"Maybe Gnossos, had [Richard] Fariña lived long enough for a sequel, would have wound up on a commune in Canada, nibbling feta and blissed out on retsina, exhaling paregoric joints in some lush and fragrant garden ... But he died in his twenties, like a lot of energetic young men of his era. It was the kind of romantic death we feel we understand almost too well, a promising talent suspended, that sense of exemption he wrote about—from mediocrity, from bourgeois compromise and midlife disappointment—a membrane forever intact." On the enduring joys and exuberant voice of Richard Fariña's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.
Speaking to Parul Sehgal, recent Booker and National Book Award finalist Jhumpa Lahiri confesses that in order to write, she must begin from “a place where I feel—and need to feel—completely alone and anonymous.” The Lowland author elaborates that the act of writing is “such an intimate thing; I can’t do it in front of other people. It’s a rich dimension in one’s head – to access it, the noise has to be shut off. And there is a lot of noise in the world.”
Ben Lerner, whose 10:04 has been reviewed in Bookforum and the New York Times, made an appearance on The New Directions blog to recommend four books of poetry that have at one point or another graced his nightstand. (No word on how he winnows down his list of books to be stacked on said nightstand, but our own Sonya Chung can offer advice.)
Michiko Kakutani's generous and oddly moving review of Jay-Z's Decoded - in which she seems to find a kindred spirit - almost makes me want to take back all the mean things I've said about her. I still don't trust her judgment, but the review's worth reading just for the mental image of her in big headphones, nodding along to "Streets Is Watching." Go 'head, shorty.