Writers and Failure, Designing a Book Cover, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

“A writer, above all else, has to cultivate a stubborn, impenetrable tenacity that listens to no earthly reason.” Marie-Helene Bertino—who received her first rejection at age ten and has been turned down by the top MFA programs, and whose debut novel, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas, was published this week—writes about failure in Tin House.

Scrabble has added 5,000 new words to its dictionary, including “bling,” “chillax,” “dubstep,” “frenemy,” “selfie,” and “webzine.” (Telegraph)

Former Faber & Faber art director Charlotte Strick—who has designed dozens of books for major publishers and now codirects her own design firm focusing on the arts—discusses her design process, and shares a handful of rejected covers, for Lydia Davis’s latest short story collection, Can’t and Won’t. (Huffington Post)

As some scholars have long suspected, new evidence suggests that James Joyce—who suffered from crippling attacks throughout his life, often leaving him unable to read or write—most likely had syphilis. (Harper’s Blog)

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has been ordered by a U.S. appeals court to pay more than $30,000 in legal fees to author and Sherlock Holmes scholar Leslie Klinger, who successfully challenged the estate’s copyright claiming ownership of the Holmes character and stories. The court called the estate's claim "a form of extortion," ruling that all Holmes stories written before 1923 are public domain. (NPR)

Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting was discovered in an 1854 book on race in an Illinois library. The book, Types of Mankind, was written by proponents of slavery; James Cornelius, the curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, says that Lincoln would likely have read the book to strengthen his case against slavery. (AP)

Chicago creative nonfiction writer Annette Gendler will be spending a year writing in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s home in Oak Park, Illinois, thanks to a new residency program. (Hyde Park Herald)

Author Rick Perlstein’s new 856-page book on the rise of Ronald Reagan, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, which came out yesterday from Simon & Schuster, has drawn both favorable reviews from book critics and pointed criticism from scholars, including author Craig Shirley, a fellow Reagan historian who accused Perlstein of plagiarism and has called for the book to be destroyed. (New York Times)