At Bookforum, Daphne Merkin reads Letters Home: 1936–1977, a more than five-hundred-page collection of poet Philip Larkin’s “attentive, touching, and sometimes hilariously banal” letters to his family. In her review, Merkin considers what Larkin’s correspondence reveals about his relationship with his parents, particularly his mother. “In some way it was Eva’s life, rather than the lives of his lovers, that captured and captivated him, leaving him unavailable to commit to other domestic arrangements,” she writes. “Perhaps, curious as it may seem, this inhibited and introverted man (he had a lifelong stammer) could write for the larger world he kept mostly at bay only by accessing the cozy, humdrum world he saw through his mother’s eyes; despite her own fragility, it was she who centered and helped define him.”
David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
“A neck cannot be modern. A neck is in time, belongs to time, but is not formed by it. My guess is that even photos of Neanderthal necks would not differ significantly… [They are] in a certain sense, pure nature. Something that grows in a certain place, the way tree trunks grow, or mussels, fungi, moss.” Recommended reading: Karl Ove Knausgaard on the sanctity of bodies, the nature of truth, and the back of the neck. The third volume of Knausgaard’s bestselling My Struggle hit American bookshelves last week. (Check out our own review of Knausgaard’s previous volumes.)
We’d like to introduce you all to our new intern, Ujala Sehgal, who beat out 50+ other applicants for the position. Ujala lives in Manhattan and recently left a nascent career in corporate law to travel and focus on her writing. Her first full-length piece, about negotiating one’s limitations as a reader and writer, has been published today. Welcome Ujala!
To celebrate its 10th birthday, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winning YA novel, is being reissued. The special anniversary edition features a new introduction by Jacqueline Woodson, family photographs, a new afterward, and an excerpt from the book’s upcoming sequel, Rowdy, Rowdy, Rowdy. Also worth your time is Woodson’s 2016 year in reading.