Casual readers and self-proclaimed Wild Things are probably not aware of Maurice Sendak’s deep love for the opera. Over at Artsy, Wallace Ludel explores the vivid, imaginative sets Sendak designed for about a dozen operas and ballets, as well as the author’s fascination with the stage. “In 1981, Sendak published Outside Over There, one of the only books he would publish during this period in which he was so dedicated to set design. It’s a dark story about a little girl named Ida whose infant sister is stolen by ladder-wielding goblins. Ida eventually distracts the goblins by playing her horn and saves her sister.”
What happened to the literature of clothing? Writers like Balzac and Proust wrote philosophies of clothing, but nowadays there seems to be a wall between literary writing and fashion. In Public Books, Mary Davis reads Women in Clothes, a collection which reveals a lot about how much our views of fashion writing have changed. FYI, Rachel Signer reviewed the book for The Millions.
“Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called ‘paperwork studies.’ True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.”
Twitter lets writers think in public, and it’s changing the way we write, Thomas Beller argues in The New Yorker. “Does articulating a thought in public freeze it in place somehow, making it not part of a thought process but rather a tiny little finished sculpture? Is tweeting the same as publishing?”
Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
Ashwin Sanghi first published his book, The Rozabal Line, on Lulu.com under the anagram Shawn Haigins. A revised edition of the book was published by Westland Ltd. & Tranquebar Press much later, and garnered controversy with readers pointing out similarities between its plot and the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai. Sanghi’s response? “Any book based on research could have real life commonalities.”
How do you write poems about a culture that has been erased from history and one you don’t fit into? Tess Taylor delved into the complications of her Southern family’s past for The Forage House and attempted to excavate the unwritten parts of their history. “The non-writing down of people is intensely violent,” she told The Oxford American in a recent interview. Pair with: Our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the collection and its implications.