The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
Yes, “books to read this summer” lists are proliferating on the internet to a staggering degree — our own “Summer Reading List For Wretched Assholes” notwithstanding. However, few lists address the importance of a single season quite like this one by Carrie Mullins at Electric Literature, which takes a look at 11 novels that take place during one summer.
“Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out.” The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today’s literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker comments on why we still write to win prizes (and hails Mario Vargas Llosa for having “a lively personal life that includes once punching out another future laureate…Gabriel García Márquez, reportedly over something to do with Mrs. Vargas Llosa. The Nobel thus not only crowns a career but provides the basis for a fine future Javier Bardem/Antonio Banderas movie.”)