In Hilary Mantel‘s award winning Tudor trilogy, she has a grand total of five characters named Thomas, three Catherines, three Marys, and two Annes. How does Mantel juggle the task of writing these characters without confusing the reader? For The Atlantic, Nina Martyris examines books that are rife with characters with similar-sounding names, including One Hundred Years of Solitude and Anna Karenina. “The overlapping of names is an all-too-common occurrence in life,” writes Martryis. “True, it can cause confusion (especially for the accounts department), but if fiction’s grand purpose is the mimesis of la condition humaine, shouldn’t writers be nudged to accommodate this inconvenient reality, rather than dodge it for fear of taxing the reader?”
Another Tumblog is being made into a book, this time with a little help from David Shields. Jeff, One Lonely Guy is a collection of recorded conversations and correspondences that were the result of one guy, Jeff Ragsdale , posting a flyer with his phone number all over NYC. Shields is helping Ragsdale arrange the responses he received for publication as an ebook. Ragsdale isn’t, according to his Tumblr, all that lonely anymore. Which makes me wonder how Mark Z. Danielewski’s fairing on OK Cupid?
One thing that pretty much everyone can agree on is that Go Set a Watchman is a controversial book. Our own Michael Bourne said it “fails as a work of art in every way except as a corrective to the standard sentimental reading of Atticus Finch.” At Slate, Dan Kois, Meghan O’Rourke and Katy Waldman debate the main questions the novel raised.
“Yehuda Amichai’s genius lies in how—to borrow from his own language—he makes metaphor ‘useful.’ He thinks metaphorically, and in so doing he makes stories of them, treating his likenesses as if they were not metaphorical but animated literalisms. That’s why, I suspect, his metaphors have not merely poetic power but practical vitality, in the way that a horse is not only alive but usefully alive.” Every time James Wood publishes a big profile in The New Yorker, it’s worth a read; this week’s essay on the “secular psalmist” and poet Yehuda Amichai is no different.
Does literature belong on the streets? Thanks to some forward-thinking initiatives like the Coffee Sleeves Conversation at Coffee House Press and the Chicago-based project “Poem While You Wait,” (in which poets stationed around the city produce original, on-demand poems for five dollars a piece) literature is finding its way to the masses.
For Ploughshares, Emilia Phillips writes about “the corporeality of the lyric.” As she puts it, For some, the act of writing about the body is not necessarily the inclusion of the body as a poem’s subject but the body as the vehicle for the poem. Think of how repetition recalls movement, dancing. Think of how good a rhyme feels in the mouth.”