- Listen to contemporary masters such as Charles Baxter and Siri Hustvedt read ten Sherwood Anderson stories.
- “Most of the topography turns out to be relatively straightforward. The Ministry of Truth, where Winston Smith sits falsifying back-numbers of the Times, is the University of London’s Senate House building in Malet Street. Big Brother’s statue in Trafalgar Square, now rechristened ‘Victory Square,’ adorns the plinth previously reserved for Nelson, while the waxworks museum on the square’s eastern side, where visitors queue to inspect tableaux of military atrocities, is the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields put to sinister propagandist use.” Mapping 1984.
- “So far the dwarves haven’t committed any unsalvageable drafting errors or done anything that might jeopardize the validity of the contract.” A lawyer examines the dwarves’ contract from The Hobbit.
- “Write drunk,” and other (questionable?) advice from famous writers.
Frida Kahlo wore plaster corsets for most of her life because her spine was too weak to support itself. She painted them, naturally, covering them with pasted scraps of fabric and drawings of tigers, monkeys, plumed birds, a blood-red hammer and sickle, and streetcars like the one whose handrail rammed through her body when she was eighteen years old. The corsets remain to this day in her famous blue house—their embedded mirrors reflecting back our gazes, their collages bringing the whole world into stricture. In one, an open circle has been carved into the plaster like a skylight near the heart. Read More
This morning I’ve been reading our poetry editor, Robyn Creswell, on the protests in Egypt. —Lorin Stein
I’ve just learned that the poet R. F. Langley—like me, a Staffordshire lad—has just died. It’s well worth reading Jeremy Harding’s tribute to Langley’s “fiber-optic attention” over at the LRB blog, and it’s only a short trip from there to the faintly surreal pastoral world evoked by Langley’s verse and journals. His playful approach to poetic form and intimate but elliptical voice tilt the reader’s perspective ever so slightly askew. This isn’t nature as seen beneath the microscope, but glimpsed through the looking glass. —Jonathan Gharraie
Earlier this week, I stumbled on Charles Baxter’s short story “Poor Devil”. Baxter documents a divorced couple’s last moments and memories together as they clean the “house where [they] tried to stage [their] marriage,” ending in the couple—eyes closed and arms out—intimately stumbling through the dark together to look for the ex-wife’s purse, “divorced, but … still married.” Oof. —Sam Dolph
I used to hate it when grown-ups sang the praises of rereading. Then I got old. This week it’s The Counterlife and No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger. I remember there was a waiting list at our school library when this restored edition of Mark Twain’s fantasy novel came out, and that it blew my fourth-grade mind. No wonder. Telepathy, time travel, a clandestine printing press in a dilapidated castle—inhabited by a boy narrator who happens to sound like Mark Twain? I must have thought I’d found the Perfect Book. —L. S.