Weekly Links: Novelty Knows No Bounds



1) New York-based poet Lucy Ives is contributing this month to the Poetry Foundation's bookmark-and-read-this-daily blog, Harriet. Each post thus far has been interesting, but especially so her most recent one on "Novelty."

"Were it not for my propensity to become inconsolably and sometimes hysterically dissatisfied by the definitions and descriptions—composed by individuals otherwise pretty much miraculously good at writing things—of the ways and reasons writing should get done, I would probably be living a full and productive life. As it stands, it’s possible that my life has been ruined by literature; more specifically, by something called poetry. It seems even more ludicrous that such a state of affairs has come to pass when one considers the afore-suggested fact that I have no idea what poetry is, much less, historically speaking, what it was."


2) NYRB Classics is releasing a new edition of William H. Gass's audacious philosophical ode to the color blue, On Being Blue. "What's so interesting about that?" you might be wondering. Michael Gorra's introduction sets the table wonderfully for Gass' verbal feast: (via NYRBlog)

"Gass has an ear like a Pantone chart, exquisitely alert to the semitones of sound and sense, fifty red words here and a hundred greenies over there. His blues themselves are enough to swallow you down. Consider the book’s first sentence, with its rattletrap inventory of some few of the things that particular color can be:

'Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings, the language of birds, bees, and flowers as sung by longshoremen, that lead-like look the skin has when affected by cold, contusion, sickness, fear; the rotten rum or gin they call blue ruin and the blue devils of its delirium; Russian cats and oysters, a withheld or imprisoned breath, the blue they say that diamonds have, deep holes in the ocean and the blazers which English athletes earn that gentlemen may wear; afflictions of the spirit—dumps, mopes, Mondays—all that’s dismal—low-down gloomy music, Nova Scotians, cyanosis, hair rinse, bluing, bleach; the rare blue dahlia like that blue moon shrewd things happen only once in, or the call for trumps in whist (but who remembers whist or what the death of unplayed games is like?)….'

"It continues for a full page."


3) Feasts fit for Hemingway! (via The Millions)

"[P]ractical lessons lurk even in the most quintessentially modern texts. Ernest Hemingway’s 'Big Two-Hearted River,' the last story in his 1925 collection In Our Time, is essentially an instruction guide for camping and fishing. In it, Hemingway’s stand-in character Nick Adams goes on a solo fishing trip, seeking release from the past. The 'hard work' of hiking to his campsite pleases him: 'He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs.' [. . .] I decided to test the theory by treating “Big Two-Hearted River” like an instruction manual: I would cook every “recipe” it contains.


4) Zora Neale Hurston on Zombies?