Our recommended reading for the weekend ahead: Dylan spars with Cohen, Sylvia gets sassy with the BBC, Guillermo del Toro talks vampires, and more.
- The Nobel Academy still hasn’t been able to get hold of the notoriously reclusive Bob Dylan, despite just awarding him the Nobel Prize in Literature. Surprisingly, the laureate was happy to speak at length about Canadian song-writer Leonard Cohen in a recent New Yorker profile. The two are old friends and share a deep mutual respect – Cohen fondly remembers a drive with Bob Dylan where they debated the all-time greats of songwriting. Bob turned to him and said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero’ · New Yorker
- This week is Sylvia Plath’s birthday. Listen to her sassy interview with the BBC from 1962: Plath is about to turn 30, has split up with her husband Ted Hughes and is experiencing a period of unprecedented productivity – dashing off the stark, shocking poems which will form her seminal collection Ariel. In less than a year’s time, she will commit suicide · BBC
- ‘A Virginia Werewoolf amongst the séance-fiction writers,’ TIME wrote of Shirley Jackson, in 1962. ‘Perhaps the only contemporary writer who is a practicing witch,’ read the book cover for her first novel. For this year’s Shirley Jackson centennial, Joyce Carol Oates reviews the authors’ life and writing. Mid-century America struggled to cohere Jackson’s image as both committed housewife and horror writer of uncanny skill, and that marriage of the mundane and the horrific is the subject of her infamous ‘The Lottery’ – listen to A.M. Homes read and discuss the story · NYRB and New Yorker
- Our obsession with zombies, ghosts and vampires extends far beyond the boundaries of Halloween. Monsters dominate popular culture, from Twilight to Shaun of the Dead – symbols of humanity’s fixations and anxieties. Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth, argues that the vampire represents humanity’s repressed history as cannibalistic primates, while Michael Hampton deconstructs the zombie as ‘a convenient, faceless type of otherness’ · New York Times and 3:AM
- ‘When people tell me ghosts don’t exist,’ says poet Dorothea Lasky, ‘I just get bored.’ Lasky draws a connection between ghosts and poetry, channelling ghostly visitations through history via Kierkegaard, Dickinson, Keats and Kubrick. Remembering her first encounter with a ghost, she recalls, ‘we got very scared and ran into the house, clutching our fashion-forward neon purses to our chests’ · JSTOR
- In 1980, Granta published an early version of Angela Carter’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ – which later featured in Carter’s dazzling Black Venus collection, and forms part of her famous ‘wolf quartet’. Kelly Link sees the ‘subversive pleasure’ of Carter’s fiction in her routine upending of mythic conventions – here, the traditionally masculine wolf-figure is given a devastating female power. As a special Halloween treat, you can read the story in our archive, or listen to a reading on our podcast · Granta
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