* The short story "Homage to Hemingway" by Julian Barnes from the July 4 issue was very thought-provoking. A combination of fiction, literary criticism, playful meta-textuality... good stuff, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hemingway's death. And I loved this little passage:
He told them his theory of writers and cooking. Novelists, who were in it for the long haul, were temperamentally equipped for stewing and braising, for the slow mixing together of many ingredients, whereas poets ought to be good at stir-fry. And short story writers? someone asked. Steak and chips. Dramatists? Ah, dramatists – they, the lucky sods, were basically mere orchestrators of the talents of others, and would be satisfied to shake a leisurely cocktail while the kitchen staff rustled up the grub.Bonus link: Julian Barnes reads Hemingway's "Homage to Switzerland," which inspired "Homage to Hemingway."
* Paul Muldoon, the magazine's Poetry Editor, gave the commencement speech for the Bennington College writers' program -- in terza rima. Actually, this poem is a meta-textual homage too, to W. H. Auden's poem for the 1946 Harvard commencement, "Under Which Lyre". I'm not sure Muldoon's poem will endure as long as Auden's (there might be too many snarky pop-culture references in it), but I enjoyed several passages from it, especially this one:
The challenge is how to kick-startand the concluding advice:
ourselves and name some grand ambition shining there
at which we may, albeit briefly, set our caps
before throwing those same caps in the capricious air.
think outside the frame
unless you’re a photographer; be frugal
in everything but praise; never jump a small claim;
always write “some pig” of the least porker
in the barnyard; remember those who fly far look like fair game;
refuse to pay corkage; make every line a corker;
let your main tactic be tact
and—one constant, if I may—read The New Yorker.