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Book News: John Hollander, Master Of Poetic Forms, Dies At 83

John Hollander (right) inducts George Plimpton into the American Academy of Arts and Letters at a 2002 ceremony in New York.
Ed Bailey
John Hollander (right) inducts George Plimpton into the American Academy of Arts and Letters at a 2002 ceremony in New York.

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

  • The poet John Hollander died on Saturday from pulmonary congestion, his daughter told The New York Times. He was 83. A professor at Yale and the author of over a dozen collections of poetry, Hollander had a deep reverence for what he called, in an interview with The Paris Review, "the alchemy of syntax, the temples and sacred precincts of verse." A highly formal poet, he wrote in everything from saphhics to haikus. His playful and masterful book Rhyme's Reason defined various verses in poems written in that verse — i.e., a sestina about sestinas or a villanelle about villanelles. The poet J. D. McClatchy told the Times, "It is said of a man like John Hollander that when he dies it is like the burning of the library at Alexandria."
  • NPR's Petra Mayer reports from a weekend retreat for fans of the novelist Debbie Macomber: "Go to your nearest paperback rack, and odds are, you'll see two or three, or four, or — well, a lot of books by Debbie Macomber, an author The Sacramento Bee has dubbed 'the reigning queen of women's fiction.' "
  • The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Marisha Pessl's Night Film is as lurid and sinister as the horror movies at the center of the novel. A disgraced journalist investigates the death of the daughter of Ashley Cordova, who is the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, director of hellish "night films." It's cinematic, full of foreboding emblems — a blood red coat, a painted eye. Read an exclusive excerpt here.
  • NPR's Barrie Hardymon wrote of The Good Lord Bird: "You may know the story of John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride's retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you'll race to the finish." Hear McBride speak to NPR's Scott Simon in an interview for Weekend Edition.
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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.