In 1994, Wanda Coleman published American Sonnets, full of sonnets (14 lines, 10 syllables) that—among other things—don’t rhyme. The sonnets in Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018) pay tribute to Coleman, and continue her project of experimentation with an old, often revered form. For Slate, Stephanie Burt writes about Hayes, American sonnets, and confinement: “Lyric poetry—the poet imagines—works by finding words for someone’s passions, which could also be your own: it can get you out of your one situation, your one body, your one life, though it will not literally free you from a literal jail.” Hayes’s sonnets may intentionally evoke feelings of confinement or discomfort in us, but they also contain the potential to lead toward liberation.
“I’ve always referred to it as a troubled project in the sense that I’m trying to tell stories about people who not are here in a way to tell their own stories. I’m trying to speak about an environment I knew well, but I’m aware that I’m dealing with very dark material. I’m pointing out the irony of what we would wish for ourselves and what actually ends up happening.” Teju Cole on tweeting American drone strikes.
Jeff Bezos married a novelist, “expressed a passionate devotion to books”, and may be the one person mild-mannered indie bookshop owners hate more than any other. How’d that happen? After perusing a short history from the New York Review of Books, see for yourself with our vintage news announcements on Amazon’s innovations in pay-per-page pricing, now-old products like the Kindle, and its industry-changing acquisitions of The Washington Post and the English language.
Out this week: The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee; Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li; Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez; Running by Cara Hoffman; The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan; Last Day On Earth by Eric Puchner; and The World to Come by Jim Shepard. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“After years of reading, teaching, and writing about the book, though, I’ve come to believe that… our understanding of what is comic and what is serious in Huck Finn says more about America in the last century than America in the time Twain wrote the book.” Andrew Levy writes for Salon about childhood, race, and “dedicated amnesia” in Mark Twain‘s controversial classic.
“Claiming that feminism killed home cooking is not just shaming, it’s wildly inaccurate from a historical standpoint…As should be obvious to anyone who’s peeked at a cookbook from the late 1940s or early 1950s that promotes ingredients like sliced hot dogs and canned tomato soup, we’ve been eating processed crap since long before feminism. Yet the idea of the feminist abandoning her children to TV dinners while she rushes off to a consciousness-raising group is unshakable.” The perils of foodie nostalgia.