At Vanity Fair, Abigail Santamaria examines how the 1918 flu pandemic and threat of nuclear war influenced Madeleine L’Engle’s writing. In L’Engle’s posthumous collection, The Moment of Tenderness, the story “A Sign for a Sparrow” takes place on a radioactive wasteland. “Readers are drawn to her fictional dark worlds,” Santamaria writes, “because, like the dark places of her own universe, the light wins in the end. Bound up in L’Engle’s biography are promises of what transcends the wastelands of our pandemic.”
Practically everyone with a pulse loves Patti Smith. Celebrate Sunday by listening to her speak about Virginia Woolf’s cane, Charles Dickens’s pen, and a few other literary talismans. Here’s a handy Spotify playlist which gathers every song from Smith’s award-winning memoir Just Kids.
The gulf between Picador and every other publishing house continues to yawn in one major aspect: literary playlists. To honor the release of Dylan Jones’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music, Justin Hargett put together a list of his “Favorite Covered Songs!” (Previously: the “Marriage Playlist” for Jeffrey Eugenides)
The literary it-boys Katie Roiphe described last week in her provocative New York Times essay may say a polite “no, thank you” to sex, but not Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison. No, sir. His lusty men of all shapes and sizes (octogenarians, clubfooted teens) take second helpings with gusto in his new collection The Farmer’s Daughter.
In 2011 I wrote about a group of Chilean Communists who wished to exhume Pablo Neruda’s body. They alleged that Neruda was murdered. Now, two years later, a judge has ordered the corpse to be exhumed and autopsied in order to set the record straight.