Eliot’s Unseen Letters, a Mormon Hollywood, and the Booker Prize Winners
Harold Bloom has died. He was 89.
The Booker Prize has been awarded to two writers for the first time in 30 years—Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo. I’m not familiar with Evaristo’s work, but Atwood’s The Testamentswas terrible.
T. S. Eliot wrote over 1,000 letters to Emily Hale over nearly 30 years. Only a handful have been seen. That will change this week. “Hale delivered the letters to Princeton’s librarian, William Dix, in November 1956, and the following month the letters were sealed in 12 boxes in the archives of Firestone Library. Valerie Eliot, the poet’s second wife, asked to see them, but the terms of the bequest, forbidding all eyes, did not allow this. They were not to be opened until 50 years after the death of the survivor of the correspondence. Eliot died on Jan 4 1965; Hale nearly five years later, on Oct 12 1969, 50 years ago today. This week, the steel security bands will be cut, and this treasure will be unsealed. The curator Don Skemer will take two to three months to sort the letters, and then release them to readers in January 2020.”
Eliud Kipchoge becomes the first person to run a marathon in under two hours. How did he do it? With the help of 42 other world-class runners, among other things, though that doesn’t make the feat any less impressive: “The pacers worked in teams, rotating in twice during each of the course’s 9.6-km (6-mile) laps. An electric car preceded the runners, projecting a system of lasers to show where the pacers should run.”
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) is a mess. What’s going on? “In March 2018, after nearly 30 years of service, executive director David Fenza was fired in a hotel lobby in Tampa, at the conclusion of the organization’s annual conference, in full view of many of his peers. He was given no reason for his termination, and the board offered no explanation for his release. Subsequent to a public outcry from AWP members, an article appeared in Publishers Weekly with the provocative headline ‘Was a hostile work environment behind the firing of AWP’s David Fenza?’ A few months later, after voicing concerns about management decisions at AWP, Conference Director Christian Teresi left the organization as well. Everyone’s confused about what happened there (including the leadership at AWP). Mr. Teresi was surprised to learn that he was no longer in AWP’s employ after reading an article in Publishers Weekly, which never bothered to confirm this news with Teresi himself, who remained on AWP’s payroll for several months following the article’s publication. When confronted with this paradox, both David Haynes and Interim Director Chloe Schwenke claimed they could not comment on personnel matters, even though both were cited as sources . . . Schwenke restructured the staff, dissolved the organization’s most important institutional relationship, eliminated much of AWP’s institutional memory, and oversaw a staff exodus—one that did not end with Christian Teresi. The staff was then expanded dramatically, and large, ongoing expenses were added to AWP’s budget.”
Mark Zuckerberg has been having private dinners with conservative pundits since July. “Each dinner has been hosted at one of Zuckerberg’s homes in California, and at least one lasted around two-and-a-half to three hours. The conversations center around ‘free expression, unfair treatment of conservatives, the appeals process for real or perceived unfair treatment, fact checking, partnerships, and privacy,’ the source familiar with the meetings said.”
Essay of the Day:
In The New York Times, Elizabeth A. Harris writes about the mini-Hollywood outside Goshen, Utah, where BYU and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will produce 25 TV shows this year:
“In the heavy quiet of the Utah desert, past fields of alfalfa and fruit trees, past the Goshen trailer park and a big, sprawling dairy farm, the domes of Jerusalem rise up from the patchy grass.
“Set way back from the road, this maze of open-air passageways and courtyards is about the size of two football fields, an unusual vision of limestone bumping up against the Utah Rockies. It has played host to Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist and Jesus — as well as Lehi, Amulek and Alma the Younger.
“This is the Motion Picture Studio South Campus, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Jerusalem set, near Goshen, Utah, is part of the church’s substantial film and media production arm, which includes full time producers, editors and animators, and a fully equipped studio in Provo, complete with sound stages, editing bays and a clutch of 19th-century Americana houses constructed on a backlot.”
Photo: Val di Funes
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