At the New York Times, Kristen Radtke discusses her new graphic novel, Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, and reflects on the way storytelling allows writers to confront their loneliness. “It’s not a leap to suggest that many writers are inherently lonely people,” Radtke says, “because writing is a form of seeking, a desire to put something into the world that doesn’t yet exist. Emily Dickinson called loneliness ‘the horror not to be surveyed,’ and what is writing if not crying out for someone to bear witness to a part of who we are? I have read very few books that are not about loneliness in some way, even unintentionally — a searching protagonist, a disconnected character, a desperate quest to answer a question that a writer has found no other way to solve.”
Jeff Vandermeer‘s Southern Reach trilogy: a genuinely weird work of ecological fiction, a hyper-object, or a strangely beautiful “glimpse of a whole that’s, by its nature, unknowable”? Joshua Rothman argues for all three in a review for The New Yorker. For more from Vandermeer himself, check out his Millions interview with Richard House, author of The Kills.
Over thirteen years, John Berryman wrote his famous Dream Songs, composing his most innovative and well-known poetry while his own life began to unravel. In a piece for the LRB, August Kleinzahler reappraises the poet to mark a raft of new editions of his work, citing Randall Jarrell, Saul Bellow and other contemporaries in the process. Pair with Stephen Akey on The Dream Songs.
Listen to Pnin author Vladimir Nabokov read “An Evening of Russian Poetry” in the style—nay, as “an impersonation, in iambic pentameter, with fancy rhymes”—of that book’s titular professor.
It’s been a full week, which means you’ve had to time to digest the half-season finale of AMC’s Mad Men. But before you dive into the works on our Mad Men Reading List while awaiting the premiere of the next half-season, you should take some time to read Phillip Maciak’s incredible recap and analysis of “Waterloo.”