My latest book review is up at PopMatters. The Dark Interval is a collection of 23 letters written by Rilke to friends and acquaintances who were suffering from the losses of loved ones. There's no pithy condolence or mystical ideology here. These letters are filled with beautiful language and intense insights about how grief, death, and loss can actually make us whole and even transform us. If you've read his Letters to a Young Poet, you will be moved by this collection too. The excellent translation is by Ulrich Baer, a Rilke scholar at NYU. There's a bit more about the translation at the end of the review.
[A gentle request: If you enjoy the literary works I share, please do pass on to other reader/writer friends. Every bit helps us fledgling writers grow. And please stop by to share comments as I always reply. Thank you.] Letters between writers and editors are an interesting sub-genre. My all-time favorite is the book-length collection of letters between Sylvia Townsend Warner, a British writer, and William Maxwell, her American editor. Read an excerpt here. I recently wrote a piece for Scroll sharing three very different letters between writers and editors. In one, Henry David Thoreau is upset about a sentence being cut from an essay without his agreement. In another, Virginia Woolf writes to complain about an awful sexist book by a famous male writer. And, in the third, Hunter S Thompson swears black and blue at a writer for not turning in promised work.
Last month, I began this series to share various books I have found helpful for my own writing practice. As I wrote in that first post, these are not necessarily all traditional writing how-to books. However, they do all deal with the art and craft of writing in some way or another. This month, I am sharing three letter collections: Chekhov, Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell, and Vincent Van Gogh. If you have followed my blog over the years, you will know that I am a big fan of letter collections, especially those by writers and artists. It is, of course, a dying art nowadays, where social media has replaced both letters and emails.