William Faulkner was a terrible postman • Friends and fellow authors pay tribute to Newark native Philip Roth • 5 new biographies about Mary Shelley • Friedrich Nietzsche’s descent into madness • 48 Years In the Making, Orson Welles’s Last Film Is Finally Released • 58 Jazz Giants in Art Kane‘s One Immortal Image • Patti Smith on Little Women • How to write the perfect sentence Storyboard for Tarkovsky‘s Andrei Rublev • Haruki Murakami Introduces The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories  Twenty Questions with Esi Edugyan The 50 Biggest Books of Autumn 2018

sam-shephard
Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard‘s final work, Spy of the First Person, has been published this week by Knopf. In an early review for USA TodayJocelyn McClurg describes it as “an autobiographical work of fiction” with a “fragmentary, disjointed narrative”. McClurg goes on to offer a pithy summary suggesting a debt to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, calling Shepard’s novel “Waiting for Godot in the desert.” (more…)

patti-smithOpen Culture has shared a list of American writer, musician, and photographer Patti Smith‘s favourite books. Included among the 2008 list are titles by Mikhail BulgakovHermann HesseJoseph ConradCharlotte Brontë, Nikolai Gogol, André Breton, Albert Camus and Virginia Woolf. Smith also lists a number of titles associated with the Beat Generation and other post-war American literature, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack KerouacWilliam S. Burroughs, and J. D. Salinger. Mike Springer reproduces the complete list, with brief commentary, over at the Open Culture website.

“She has said that she learned to write during the years she spent at home raising her children, working at it every day and publishing nothing. That long apprenticeship has paid off; M Train is certainly literature rather than a celebrity memoir. There is no conventional storyline, but the narrative is subtly controlled and compelling. Motifs bubble up – the detective shows, objects getting lost, dreams, a black coat – then disappear and resurface, to mesmerising effect.”

— Alice O’Keeffe, The Guardian

sam-shepard-patti-smith

“In the winter of 2012, we met up in Dublin, where he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Trinity College. He was often embarrassed by accolades but embraced this one, coming from the same institution where Samuel Beckett walked and studied. He loved Beckett, and had a few pieces of writing, in Beckett’s own hand, framed in the kitchen, along with pictures of his kids. That day, we saw the typewriter of John Millington Synge and James Joyce’s spectacles, and, in the night, we joined musicians at Sam’s favorite local pub, the Cobblestone, on the other side of the river. As we playfully staggered across the bridge, he recited reams of Beckett off the top of his head”

— Source: My Buddy: Patti Smith Remembers Sam Shepard | The New Yorker

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George Monbiot
George Monbiot

I spent some time this morning preparing a lecture on William Gibson‘s Burning Chrome, a collection of short stories that ushered in the science-fiction aesthetic we now think of as ‘cyberpunk’. Since Prime Minister May began the process of the UK leaving the European Union, I have reinvested in these sticky postmodern narratives of chance and possibility. I have also been distracting myself with rarely-seen photographs of filmmakers and literary figures. Among today’s treasures was an image of Leo Tolstoy emerging from a lake on his estate, and a candid photograph of Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray on the set of Lost in Translation c. 2003. I read that Patti Smith has purchased the home of French poet Arthur Rimbaud, located in the “sleep French town of Roche”. And, finally, I enjoyed looking over George Monbiot‘s career advice for those seeking to pursue life as a journalist. Among his tips? Live as cheaply as possible: “This is a good discipline for any freelancer, however well you’re doing.”