Min Jin Lee, author of the bestselling novel Pachinko, recounts how she found her voice, going from a young student struggling with the English language to a published author promoting her own work. “I write novels, and now and then I give lectures,” she writes. “I come from many tribes—immigrant, introvert, working class, Korean, female, public school, Queens, Presbyterian. Growing up, I never knew that people like me could write books or talk in public. To this day, I worry that if I mess up, others like me might not be asked or allowed. This is how outsiders and newcomers feel. It is neither rational nor fair. I know.”
Shark Week 2013 isn’t for another ten months, but you can satisfy your hunger for tales of nautical catastrophe and man-eating fish with these two databases: WreckSite, a collection of shipwrecks classified by worldwide positions, and The International Shark Attack File, a compilation of “all known shark attacks.”
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there’s a different kind of classic that’s worth revisiting and questioning. “You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.