Love Sex Death And Words, Suprising Tales From A Year In Literature by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender arrived as a complimentary advance copy today. Calendrical in form it uncovers a true surprising literary tale for each day of the year. Like the tree lights in the not so supermarket it’s due for Christmas sales.
I predictably turn to today September 19th. The book works on that level. In 2001 on this day Amiri Baraka, the poet Laureate of New Jersey read a poem about 9/11 entitled “Somebody Blew Up America” at a poetry festival. Without telling the tale, because I wouldn’t want to spoil it, I can tell you the result. “In the annals of literature he is the only poet to have been de-laureated.”
The surprising tale is delivered. Love Sex Death and Words is drawn from the knowledge – moreso the research capabilities – of two academics who have “one hundred years scholarship between them”. It’s due out in October. The inside cover reads “love sex death boredom ecstacy existential angst, political upheaval – the history of literature offers a rich and varied exploration of the human condition across the centuries.”
So how’s it possible in 2010 that of the chosen three hundred and sixty five “surprising tales” only twenty one, less than ten percent, concern women writers?