Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings recounts the enduring friendship—one that often bordered on infatuation—between Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman. The pair exchanged letters for years, after Gilchrist praised Leaves of Grass as “truly a new birth of the soul.” The two eventually met in person, enjoying a life-affirming friendship, and their letters have been collected in a long out-of-print volume. Read about their epistolary relationship, and see that, sometimes, it is worth it to meet your heroes.
Millions contributor Michelle Dean wrote for The New Yorker‘s Page Turner about Opal Whiteley, whose childhood diary–written when she was six on scraps of paper–was published over 100 years ago to meet with acclaim, then controversy, and then obscurity. If girl prodigies interest you as much as they do me, you’ll also love this 2010 piece from Lapham’s Quarterly, on Barbara Newhall Follett.
Every book reviewer has probably, at one point or another, savaged a book a bit too savagely. But if given the opportunity, would you recant? Would you admit that you’d overstepped? Would you feel good about doing so? At an event last month, Snowball’s Chance author John Reed hosted an event at which NBCC critics did exactly that.
David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: “It’s a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird.” The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.