Christopher Hitchens writes both movingly and caustically about Philip Larkin’s long-running relationship with Monica Jones: “[Larkin] once described the sexual act as a futile attempt to get ‘someone else to blow your own nose for you.’ These collected letters reflect his contribution to a distraught and barren four-decade relationship with Monica Jones, an evidently insufferable yet gifted woman who was a constant friend and intermittent partner (one can barely rise to saying mistress, let alone lover) until Larkin’s death in 1985.” . . . And Martin Amis writes an appreciation of his friend Hitchens that reads disconcertingly (if understandably) like an advance eulogy. . . . Christian Lorentzen cheekily considers Martin Amis’ impending move to Brooklyn, and the saturation of writers already there. (”They’re like bedbugs with bylines, and there’ll soon be a new bug in town, who might just be the biggest bug of all.”) . . . Here’s the type of contest that doesn’t come along every day: “Design the Polish edition of your favorite book.” . . . I haven’t even listened to this myself yet, but how could it not be worth sharing? Werner Herzog and Cormac McCarthy on the same panel about the connections between science and art. I only thought those two would ever join forces to announce the apocalypse on national television. . . . Robert Lane Greene writes about his role as his office’s unofficial language nerd: “When someone asks me, ‘Is such-and-such a verb?’ My answer is usually, ‘Well, a lot of people are using it as one, including in professionally edited writing, so yes.’ Still nervous, they might ask, ‘But is it in the dictionary?’ The answer is probably ‘not yet,’ but that doesn’t mean much.” . . . Ian McEwan talks to The Browser about the books that have “helped shape” his own.
Thursday April 28th, 2011