“Bigger than the Zuckerberg Bump, bigger even than the Colbert Bump or the Oprah Bump—arguably the most historic bump in English publishing is the Sam Weller Bump.” A look at the surprising and overwhelming success of Dicken‘s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, from The Paris Review.
You can get acquainted with Charles Wright, the nation’s newest Poet Laureate, by checking out interviews he did with StorySouth and The Paris Review, and also by reading his work – much of which can be found online. Might I suggest this poem, which was published by the VQR?
Practically everyone with a pulse loves Patti Smith. Celebrate Sunday by listening to her speak about Virginia Woolf's cane, Charles Dickens's pen, and a few other literary talismans. Here's a handy Spotify playlist which gathers every song from Smith's award-winning memoir Just Kids.
Can you hear me, Major Tom? The world lost one of the good ones today in David Bowie; celebrate his enormous contributions to art as we know it and take a look at this list of Bowie's 100 essential books which includes everyone from Camille Paglia to Anthony Burgess. Bonus: here's a link to Bowie singing "Changes" in what became his final live performance.
"The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward." On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
Now online: PEN World Voices video of Keith Gessen interviewing Vladimir Sorokin, author of the just-released Ice Trilogy and Day of the Oprichnik. I was a little nonplussed by the Times' decision to begin its profile of Sorokin with a discussion of his hair, but really...it is quite something. Come for the mane, stay for the acerbic insights.