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Book News: Slam Poet Maggie Estep Dies

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

  • The slam poet and novelist Maggie Estep died Wednesday, days after having a heart attack, The New York Timesreports. She was 50. Estep helped to popularize slam poetry through appearances on MTV and HBO in the 1990s. The Timeswrites, "Ms. Estep's poetry was characterized by gritty honesty, black humor and a post-punk brand of feminism. ... Her poems, which she delivered relentlessly, were a cascade of images, often tinged with absurdity, violence and innuendo." Estep dropped out of high school and at age 17 moved to New York, where she became a go-go dancer. (In a Feb. 7 blog post, she noted, "I'd say at least half, maybe more, of the really smart, hot, successful women I've known have, at some point, tried stripping.") "I'm not a normal girl," she said in one poem. "I'm an angry, sweaty girl, so bite me."
  • A portrait of Hilary Mantel will be the first of a living author to be displayed at the British Library. Mantel said of the painting by artist Nick Lord, "I wanted it to have a bit of force behind it. I didn't want to look as if I was just sitting, contemplating the daffodils, but as though I might have an impact in the world."
  • Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, has created an "Are You A Romantic?" quiz. Your score is based on whether you mark certain statements as true or false, such as, "Abraham Lincoln probably would have found you fascinating and maybe even attractive," and "A passionate embrace on a deserted beach will never result in sand in your crevices."
  • Charles McGrath writes about the many papers in the Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: "The very randomness of this material — a telegram from Archibald MacLeish congratulating Hemingway on "For Whom the Bell Tolls" turns up with Mary Hemingway's carefully typed hamburger recipes — turns out to be part of its appeal, its reminder that this is how lives are lived, haphazardly."
  • At The Millions,Edan Lepucki interviews her copyeditor, Susan Bradanini Betz. Betz says, "I think I've always read like a copyeditor, even way back before I knew what a copyeditor was. One of my favorite authors is Proust, and when I was young I would read some of his sentences over and over trying to make sure I understood how every word related to the other words and just to make sure I understood what he was saying."
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    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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