Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
“All this is by way of saying that in the United States we haven’t got any actual royals, and yet almost the very first stories we hear are about princes and princesses, kings and queens. When a little American kid first learns that there is such a thing as real, live princes and princesses, who live in actual palaces, this is liable to come as a terrific shock, though in general a pleasing one. One would like it to be true; it’s a very nice idea, that there is such a thing as an incorruptible person for whom everything will — everything must — come right in the end.” Maria Bustillos on America’s fascination with royalty.
It’s time again for spring cleaning, as well as the more enjoyable spring reading. Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading is gearing up for Your Face This Spring, which will read the entire 1200 pages of Javier Marías‘s Your Face Tomorrow trilogy. And Big Other is orchestrating a group read of Flann O’Brien‘s At Swim-Two-Birds. After you finish a closet, open a book–both start next week.
“He combed through the sahaflar, the second-hand bookshops that line the streets around the Grand Bazaar, their dusty wares stacked on haphazard tables. He sat by the New Mosque, drinking tea out of tulip-shaped cups, playing backgammon, and watching the fishermen’s wooden boats launch into the dirty waters of the Golden Horn.” For Public Books, Suzy Hansen writes about James Baldwin‘s less-well-documented time in Istanbul. Pair with this piece from our pages about the famed author, race, and fatherhood.