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.
“In Saigon I always went to sleep stoned so I always lost my dreams, probably just as well, sock in deep and dim under that information and get whatever rest you could, wake up tapped of all images but the one remembered from the day before, with only the taste of a bad dream in your mouth like you’d been chewing on a roll of dirty old pennies in your sleep.” The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time series over at The Guardian soldiers on with its ninth pick, Michael Herr’s Dispatches.
In 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky met Charles Dickens… Or did he? In a thoroughly researched piece for the Times Literary Supplement, Eric Naiman tells the thrilling story of how one – or two? or several? – hoaxers managed to dupe biographers, New York Times reviewers, London Review of Books editors as well as readers of numerous scholarly publications. Long story short: be wary of ostentatious “nipple” references.
“Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the ‘business of literature.’ Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself.” Twenty-first century publishing works in mysterious ways.