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.”
Aimee Bender, Year in Reading alum and author of, most recently, The Color Master, writes for The New York Times about the structural genius of Goodnight Moon: “[The story] does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them.”
Last week Konstantin Kakaes — whose new book The Pioneer Detectives is our latest Millions Original — led a discussion on “how scientists search for truth and how that search isn’t always straight-forward.” You can catch a broadcast of that discussion tonight on BookTV at 7:30 PM.
From Hunger Games‘s Katniss to Divergent‘s Tris, today’s YA heroines are confident, intelligent, powerful, and always skinny. At The Atlantic, Julianne Ross argues that this scrawny stereotype ends up belittling the heroines’ independence and strength. “Just as women are expected to be sexual but not slutty, pure but not prudish, heroines should be strong but not buff.”
“Independent bookstores are intellectual centers of a city.” Our own Bill Morris, who’s currently on tour for his latest book, Motor City Burning, writes for The Daily Beast about the importance and continued relevance of bookstores in the age of Amazon.