“So I think, be out, get out, look up, walk where and when you can, and be curious, and be astonished by the world.”

— Robert Macfarlane talks to Krista Tippett about his book, Underland. Read or listen to the conversation at the On Being Project.

Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis

“In her notes, we see her honing her habit of attention, her sensitivity to shades of meaning and the music of language, her tropism toward writers with a talent for noticing.”

— Parul Sehgal reviews Essays One, a new collected volume from Lydia Davis. Read the review in The New York Times.

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“Between the experience of living a normal life at this moment on the planet and the public narratives being offered to give a sense to that life, the empty space, the gap, is enormous.”

— John Berger, The Shape of a Pocket

Toni Morrison

— Do you prefer being called Professor, Doctor, Mrs or Ms?
— I like Toni.

In 2017, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Mario Kaiser sat down with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Their conversation took place in her home in upstate New York. Read more at Granta.

Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson

“Commonplace things can be fascinating.”

― Tove Jansson, The Summer Book (trans. Thomas Teal)

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Noted AIDS researcher Jay A. Levy became friends with Samuel Beckett after encountering his work as a student. This portrait, taken in Beckett’s home, was among books, letters, and memorabilia that Levy and his wife recently donated to Wesleyan University.

J. R. R. Tolkien

“I thought all the trees were whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language…”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Fantasy or reality? Building on existing scientific research, new studies by forest ecologist Suzanne Simard suggest that trees form something akin to social communities, and might be capable of communication.

More information:

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“Much to cast down, much to build, much to restore.”

— T.S. Eliot, The Rock

“[A] walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells.”

— Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros

“Cisneros’s work allowed me to see the power in my culture’s storytelling tradition, and the power within myself.”

Kali Fajardo-Anstine and other Latinx writers
on the influence of Sandra Cisneros’s poetic coming-of-age novel,
The House on Mango Street.

bustle.com/p/how-sandra-cisneross-house-on-mango-street-influenced-5-latinx-authors-18713476

“It’s the start of 2016, and Smith’s friend Pearlman—a producer and rock critic—has been hospitalized after a brain hemorrhage. As he lies in a coma, Smith recounts the tumultuous year that follows—the loss of friends (Sam Shepard is nearly bedridden), the horror of the imminent election and rise of nationalism, and the impending climate crisis. A reflection on mortality, the book retains Smith’s characteristically flat tone as she wanders through stretches of Arizona, California, Virginia, and Kentucky, stopping at diners for black coffee and onion omelets and conversations with strangers. She hitchhikes from San Francisco to San Diego and back, travels as far as Lisbon, and returns home to the quiet of her Rockaway bungalow to stare at the flowers. All the while, she describes the mundane details of life with incredible vividness…”

Camille Jacobson on
Year of the Monkey,
a new memoir from Patti Smith.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/11/staff-picks-monsters-monkeys-and-maladies/

Olga Tokarczuk
Olga Tokarczuk

“Olga’s work is crystal clear: her characters live on the page and speak for themselves… I’m ecstatic that so many more readers will now discover the entire trove of literature Olga has created over the course of her thirty-year career. Olga is the Nobel laureate. She’s the one the prize was made for.”

Jennifer Croft on Olga Tokarczuk,
who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/10/the-nobel-prize-was-made-for-olga-tokarczuk/

Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter

In these dark times
we look for the light.

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“I felt very strongly that the communal suffering, and our ability to transcend it, was the thing that held us together. This was not some pessimistic worldview, quite the opposite really. It became clear that as human beings we have enormous capabilities that allow us to rise above our suffering – that we are hardwired for transcendence. […] [W]hether the lyric writing has changed, I would say that it has shifted fundamentally. I have found a way to write beyond the trauma […]. I found with some practise the imagination could propel itself beyond the personal into a state of wonder.”

Nick Cave

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Marguerite Duras

“Writing is to write for oneself.”

Marguerite Duras, Me & Other Writing:
A new collection of non-fiction essays, translated for the first time into English by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan.
Introduction by Dan Gunn.

dorothyproject.com/book/me-other-writing/