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Book News: Unfinished Tennessee Williams Play Found

Playwright Tennessee Williams, shown in New York on Nov. 11, 1940.
Dan Grossi
Playwright Tennessee Williams, shown in New York on Nov. 11, 1940.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The first 10 pages of an unpublished and untitled Tennessee Williams play about D. H. Lawrence; his wife, Frieda; Katherine Mansfield (spelled Katharine in the draft); and her husband, John Middleton Murr, were found in an archive by scholar Gerri Kimber. Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Kimber says that aside from a listing in a Williams bibliography and a mention in one scholarly footnote, "the play seems never to have been discussed by scholars until now." The first act, called "The Night of the Zeppelin," has the four characters in a London apartment during an air raid, which prompts a soliloquy from Mansfield: "A woman isn't really lonely, I mean terribly lonely, until she falls in love. — (And then she's alone on the desert — completely, completely alone!)" The whole draft will be published in Katherine Mansfield Studies in 2015.
  • Amazon has announced a new self-publishing service for children's books that helps to create illustrated e-books and sell them through the Kindle store. "Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids," Amazon executive Russ Grandinetti said in a statement. "Kindle Kids' Book Creator makes it easy. In addition to helping authors craft their books, we're helping customers find them with things like age and grade range filters."
  • Poet Daniel Johnson wrote a poem for his friend James Foley, one of two U.S. journalists beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video released last month. The poem, "In the Absence of Sparrows," reads, in part:
  • "Don't get me wrong; we expect you back. Skinny, feral,

    coffee eyes sunken but alive, you've always come back, from Iraq,

    Syria, Afghanistan, even Libya after Gaddafi's forces

    captured and held you for 44 days. You tracked time scratching

    marks with your zipper on prison walls, scrawling notes on cigarette

    boxes, reciting the Koran with other prisoners. Then, you called."

  • The Center for Fiction has announced the seven-novel shortlist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. Finalists include Josh Weil's The Great Glass Sea, Tiphanie Yanique's Land of Love and Drowning, and Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves. The winner will be announced on Dec. 9. See the full shortlist here.
  • George W. Bush's biography of his father, George H.W. Bush, will be called 41: A Portrait of My Father.
  • Edith Grossman, who translated the works of Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes (among others), talks to Newsweek about her process for a feature on literary translation: "I really liked the puzzle of reading a statement in Spanish and figuring out how it would sound in English. What level of discourse would you use? What kind of language would you use? Would you use elevated language? Would you use colloquial language? Is it street Spanish? Is it academic Spanish? And what level of English matches it?"
  • Dean Rader has a poem, "Relational Self Portrait" in the new issue of The Kenyon Review.It ends:
  • "The ship of this life will sail

    until its stern snaps beneath the stretched swell

    at the end of the end. We find out then

    the universe has not been built to scale

    and that our want expands like wind not sail."

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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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