Posts by: Michelle Dean

A Few Other Saturday Links

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It’s too hot to write much. Days like this are better for reading, and I have some eighty-year-old love letters calling my name. I can’t offer you those, but here are other things you can read while reclining with a lemon-rosemary vodka fizz: Shani Hilton has a lovely piece at the Awl this week on […]

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Richard Brautigan’s Poems On Seed Packets

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I have been trying, and mostly failing, to grow wildflowers in my rocky, slug-filled backyard here in Queens. I am not a gardener; I’m indifferent to everything below cats on the food chain, as a general rule. You have to draw a line somewhere. But I work at home, a lot, and I wanted something […]

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Today I Will Let You Have Your Saturday To Yourself

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Friends, comrades, Rumpusers (Rumpusans? Rumpaloompas? Sorry), I am taking a mental health day today. However! I did write something about Sheila Heti’s new book for Slate this week that you are welcome to read. I suggest taking a powder on the comments, though. Just so you know, you needn’t let me know about the “line […]

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I Intend To Stop Writing About Gender Sometime I Swear

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Last Saturday, after I posted the Gone Girl essay that turned into another gender-in-literature rant, I thought to myself, “Self, let’s find a new subject, surely your readers are getting bored. You are getting bored.” But then the Jonah Lehrer thing happened and I found myself piqued enough to write a little something for Salon. Partially because of […]

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It’s Bloomsday

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James Joyce’s most famous works were long, complicated and, depending on who you’re asking, arguably inaccessible novels. But writing to his four-year-old grandson Stephen (yes, that Stephen) in August 1936 he set himself out a simpler task: write a story a kid could enjoy, as “Stevie” was then just four. In it, townspeople outsmart the […]

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Saturday History Lesson: Dorothy Parker’s Ashes

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Dorothy Parker died, rather suddenly, of a heart attack in June of 1967. She was seventy-three but had not seemed particularly sick to her friends, who still found her an avid enthusiast of whisky and cigarettes.A chambermaid found her in her room at the Volney hotel on East 74th Street. Only her beloved poodle, Troy, […]

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Angelica Garnett and the Cost of the Art

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I read awhile back about Angelica Garnett’s death at MobyLives, and I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since. She was Vanessa Bell’s daughter, Virginia Woolf’s niece, and until she was eighteen she thought her father was Vanessa’s husband, Clive Bell. Her real father, her mother informed her, was the painter […]

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Walking While Reading (Redux)

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I saw this Paris Review piece about “walking while reading” go up and got all excited. A kindred spirit, I thought. Someone else who knows that the best way to relax is to pick up a book and start walking. But it’s only inviting you to read about the subject of walking, not to read […]

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Keeping Abreast of the Issues of the Day

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This essaylet by Jill Lepore at The New Yorker about this week’s “scandalous” TIME cover gives the history of people losing their minds over the depiction of breasts and breastfeeding and birth and all that stuff in — trigger warning for those afraid of female body — public. When I was flipping through all the commentary […]

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Is Optimism About the Future of “Serious” Publishing Possible?

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In the kind of defeated sigh about the future of books that is increasingly commonplace, Sarah Weinman, the news editor at Publisher’s Marketplace, argues that in the digital age there’s no room for “serious nonfiction.” The gist of her argument is familiar, the kind of thing we’ve been hearing for years: without “traditional” publishers there […]

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“Novelistic Intelligence” and the Obama Biography

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The best thing I read this week was James Wood’s review of Hilary Mantel’s new novel, Bring Up the Bodies, a sequel to her last novel, Wolf Hall. Caveat emptor: Though I have not read Bring Up the Bodies yet, I am really into Hilary Mantel, creepily so (though I like to think she’d like that). Wolf […]

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Literary Roommates

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I was sniffing around a rumor I’d heard about Saul Bellow and happened to come across this wonderful piece Bellow wrote about the time he and Ralph Ellison were roommates in a big old rambling mansion in upstate New York. To wit: Ralph drove into Tivoli in his huge old Chrysler. He himself serviced it, […]

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Saturday Old Reads: Lady Journalists Edition

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I thought I’d write an essay for you today but naturally it’s not done because my allergies are clogging the old brain-machine. Besides you all probably want to read subjects that are not simply my inner monologue. A couple of weeks ago the National Magazine Award nominees were announced, with few women included. The screed […]

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Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso: In Which Heckling Is An Integral Part of Poetry Reading

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The 92nd St Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, an institution of which I have never taken nearly enough advantage, occasionally posts recordings of its old readings. A couple of days ago, they posted this one, of Allen Ginsberg reading a number of poems (and singing a little). Somewhere around the 5:50 mark you will hear someone […]

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The Sedaris Reading Diet

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I’m pretty sure my favourite part about this interview with David Sedaris is the writer he’d most like to meet: “[I]f I could go back in time, I’d love to collect kindling or iron a few shirts for Flannery O’Connor. After I’d finished, she’d offer to pay me, and I’d say, awe-struck, my voice high […]

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A Note About a Mundane Note from George Eliot

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This week the Persephone Post has been putting up little scraps of signatures and letters from one of its staff member’s grandmothers-in-law. One of those scraps is a letter from George Eliot declining an invitation to collaborate on a stage adaptation of her work. It’s signed “ME Lewes,” which was the name Eliot adopted to […]

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