In a piece for the Times’s Sunday Book Review, Paul Muldoon leads a fascinating and warm-hearted expedition through the letters and poems of Samuel Beckett, new volumes of which will become available in the coming months. One could argue that Muldoon is prone to hyperbole, at times; he casually describes Krapp’s Last Tape as “the single greatest evocation of loss and longing of the 20th century” and declares that “to describe [Beckett’s] line breaks as arbitrary would be a kindness.” On the whole, though, Muldoon inspires confidence through his insightful readings and engaging prose, giving readers a captivating window into Beckett’s writing life, and the collaborative relationships that brought his plays and radio dramas to the world....more
Posts Tagged: New York Times
The poetry community has been mourning what seems like an exceptional number of losses in the past few months; the New York Times remembrance of Claudia Emerson marks yet another. Emerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2005 collection The Late Wife, which explores the poet’s recurrent themes of love, marriage, and mourning....more
A French public library has discovered that the institution possesses a rare ‘first folio’ of the works of William Shakespeare. There are many first folios, but these earliest anthologies all contain variations in the texts. (The writing we have come to know as the definitive works have actually been pieced together by scholars who’ve researched and compared the various versions of first folios.) For example, the newly discovered folio has changes in Henry IV:
In one scene in “Henry IV,” the word “hostess” is changed to “host” and “wench” to “fellow” — possibly reflecting an early performance where a female character was turned into a male.
For the New York Times, Francine Prose and Benjamin Moser share their experiences reading 19th century Russian literature. While Prose shows an appreciation for the timeless themes of Tolstoy and Gogol, Moser contends that what makes 19th century Russian writers distinctive is the way their work “echoed their particular national history.”...more
After years of financial struggle, Barnes & Noble’s enlists renowned authors like Donna Tart, David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman to help compete with Amazon this holiday season. While Tart and Mitchell will contribute thousands of signed books to helps bolster sales, Gaiman has planned appearances at several of the chain’s bookstores....more
On Wednesday evening, Phil Klay’s Redeployment won the National Book Award for fiction, making it the first short story collection to win the award since Andrea Barrett’s Ship Fever in 1996. That’s 18 years. But what’s maybe more startling is that the collection, which takes multiple perspectives of people involved in and returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, stands nearly alone as a fictional account that has risen to the national level of attention since the war in Afghanistan began in 2003....more
Amazon and Hachette have, for now, resolved their dispute. But their protracted battle over pricing has made Hachette’s Chief Executive Michael Pietsch something of a hero to many in the literary community—in Distinction, Pietsch discusses his journey from a small Boston publishing firm to leading the charge against Amazon:
My first job in publishing was as a dogsbody at a small firm in Boston.
Why do readers love to hate the Times’s Style section? While many of its trend pieces are guilty of the same transgressions committed elsewhere in mainstream media, a history of misogyny and homophobia directed at lifestyle journalism suggests our contempt goes beyond objective criticism:
Far from detailing the paper’s ignominious decline into muddy ethical waters and vacuous intellectual territory, the history of style reporting at the New York Times actually exposes some of the nastiest truths about misogyny and homophobia in the mass media: their intensity, their unbelievable durations (by which I mean “totally believable”), their active contemporary manifestations, and the role audiences play in perpetuating them.
For a while now, such characters, if not totally extinct, have been on a steady life-support drip of nostalgia. In an age when GPS tracking, oversharing and 8 Signs Your Man Is Cheating listicles make their services unnecessary, the old-school gumshoe feels as irrelevant as Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple felt a generation before.
According to a report in the New York Times, PBS will be live-streaming the Miami Book Fair at Dade College later this month. Representatives at PBS cite a strong correlation between public television watchers and book consumers, and will be working with the festival to broadcast “Olympic-style coverage” of author events, panels, and interviews....more
At the New York Times, Margalit Fox shares a moving tribute to poet Carolyn Kizer, who passed away last Thursday. Characterized by impeccably crafted sound and meter, and an understated warmth, Kizer’s poems brought out a softer side of feminist poetry from the 1950’s through the present:
Where the poems of Ms.
Pakistan is a country where the fact of suffering is indeed irrefutable, whether we’re speaking of the horrific treatment of women and religious minorities, the use of terrorism — both insurgent and state-sponsored — as a tool of political strategy or simply the persistence of the most extreme poverty in a country that wastes billions on a state of perpetual war.
At the New York Times Sunday Book Review, humorist and journalist Henry Alford gives advice for borrowing books, giving books as gifts, and commenting on books when you recognize the one the stranger across from you on the train is reading (conclusion: you should probably keep your opinions to yourself)....more
If Alison Bechdel’s Genius grant weren’t reason enough to celebrate, she’s got another graphic memoir due in 2017. As the New York Times puts it:
“The Secret to Superhuman Strength” is Ms. Bechdel’s third graphic memoir and chronicles her decades long obsession with various fitness and exercise fads, including downhill skiing, uphill skiing, rollerblading, martial arts, running, hiking, weight lifting and home workout videos and currently, yoga.
Find yourself at the New York Times for Nick Bilton’s most recent article, a piece on the ways in which the sci-fi of the past has affected our real-life present. Moreover, Bilton highlights a recently formed group of writers, aware of literature’s future-shaping effects, interested in writing more auspicious future fiction:
One thing writers are pushing back against in particular is Hollywood’s depiction of the future.
In the latest installment of “Bookends” at the New York Times, Leslie Jamison and Francine Prose discuss whether a book could ever change a reader’s life in a negative way. While Jamison thinks that “[n]ovels might not make us worse, but they can unlock parts of us that were already there, already dark, already violent or ruthless or self-destructive,” Prose recounts not being the least affected by “inappropriate” reading material as a little child....more
New autocorrect software is beginning to suggest sophisticated word alternatives that go beyond simply correcting typos, reports The New York Times. With such complicated options, the software is beginning to influence authorial voice. This automation also poses a threat to saying anything meaningful at all:
“The more we don’t autonomously struggle with language, grapple to find the right word, muscle through to bend language poetically, the less we’re able to really treat conversation as an intentional act.
(n.); artist’s studio or workshop; c. 1840, from the old French astelier (“carpenter’s workshop, woodpile”)
“Part of what I loved about poetry was how the distinction between fiction and nonfiction didn’t obtain,” [Lerner] says, “how the correspondence between text and world was less important than the intensities of the poem itself.”
From “With Storms Outside, Inner Conflicts Swirl”
How the old French word for a splinter of wood (astelle, likely from the Latin astula) evolved to eventually refer to an artist’s abode may be fodder only for the most archaic linguist....more