“Wearily, moving his feet because he had nothing else to do, Christopher went on down the road, hating the trees that moved slowly against his progress, hating the dust beneath his feet, hating the sky, hating this road, all roads, everywhere. He had been walking since morning, and all day the day before that, and the day before that, and days before that, back into the numberless line of walking days that dissolved, seemingly years ago, into the place he had left, once, before he started walking.”—The New Yorker has published another recently discovered Shirley Jackson short story “The Man in the Woods," a fairy tale that takes on some classic mythology. According to her son, it’s one of many new stories found in her archives, and we can expect a new collection next year. "What was surprising to us was not that she was so prolific and had left behind so much unseen work but, rather, the quality of that work," Laurence Jackson Hyman said.
“What has changed in 450 years of performing, reading, writing Shakespeare? The history of women interacting with Shakespeare’s plays is also the history of women’s rights, suffrage, and of the feminist movement. It is a history of women being silenced and of finding ways to speak out anyway. Shakespeare has been, and is, an uneasy ally in this history. He complicates but also enriches our idea of what a woman is. Too often we are still Katherinas, forced to compromise our dignity in order to retain our voice, or else our insistence on speaking is blamed for our tragedies, like Juliet. But the reason why we still read Shakespeare’s women, is that they are women. Goneril, Juliet, and Katherina are finally not ciphers. Whatever else they may be, they are true women, and they have true voices.”—Stefanie Peters,”450 Years of Juliets: On Women Making Shakespeare”
“Well, continuing with my policy of baring my soul, Dwight Garner said something like, the book was like one of those satellite photos of North Korea when I talked about the second marriage. I obviously had very little access to Updike from ‘77 on, really. And I cheated a bit by using Ian McEwan as my spy in the Updike household. First of all, Updike definitely did pull up the drawbridge and retire into his castle and I thought, in a sense, that this should be respected. He had decided on his persona, at that point—the highly professional man of letters. And I thought, why not let him go out with that persona intact?”—At The Awl, Elon Greentalks with Adam Begley about his new biography of John Updike.
“Good fiction can be a form of good works. As a Catholic, I recognize that life is a story of continuous revision, of failure and unexpected grace, and of dogged hope. I am comfortable with the white space of ambiguity and mystery. I have faith, not certainty.”—Nick Ripatrazone, “Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest”
“Often she is very funny. This is the full text of ‘Idea for a Short Documentary Film’: ‘Representatives of different food products manufacturers try to open their own packaging.’ But what knocks you for six is how much emotion Davis is able to draw from her pedantic scrutiny of language. ‘Grammar Questions’, composed during her father’s terminal illness, begins: ‘Now, during the time he is dying, can I say, ‘This is where he lives’?’”—Recommended Reading: Anthony CumminsonLydia Davis’snew book.
“It is precisely because she does believe [translation] to be so crucial that she wants it to be taken seriously. Her concerns lie with a notion of world literature that erases difference or sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption. In this way world literature mimics a free-market fantasy of the endless, frictionless circulation of goods and information. In this McDonaldisation of the written word there is no room for difficulty or opacity.”—We tend to take it for granted that the world needs more translated works. The dictates of common wisdom state that reading translated works help us understand the reality of foreign cultures. But what if translation, which erases at least some nuance from works of literature, instead “sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption”? In TheIrish Times, Michael Croninreviews a recent book by NYU professor Emily Apter.
“How do you keep going back and back and back in conditions that are really awful? It’s the people that keep you going back; it’s these deep engagements with these people that you’re learning a great deal from. … It really is a respect and a love for these people that has nothing to do with your own virtue. It has to do with their claim on your heart. Then the trick is how do you get that onto the page so that people in New York, 8,000 miles away from their community, will be able to engage with their dilemmas?”—Katherine Boo in conversation with Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
“What’s great about [triple plays] isn’t really their scarcity but the fact that they beautifully illustrate the invisible force that hovers about each pitch and play and inning and game in this pausing, staccato, and inexorably accruing pastime: the laws of chance.”—Roger Angell
“Deborah Yanover, the owner of Bueno Aires’s Librería Norte, told me that his father—the late Héctor Yanover, the bookshop’s founder and another former director of the library—often received offers of first editions and manuscripts, stolen from the library of which he was the director.”—Graciela Mochkofsky
“There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment. Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”—Christian Wiman
“Trafficking in cultural property, including rare books and manuscripts, is a six-billion-dollar-a-year industry, second only to arms and drugs, according to estimates often cited in international conferences.”—Graciela Mochkofsky
“This might not be the thing one wants to hear before embarking on a 1,500 page quest, but the trilogy is marked by a narrative desultoriness that applies to both its human and political dramas. The novels are in a some ways about widespread distraction and inaction in the face of an impending catastrophe.”—Matt Seidel, “Transylvanians Gone Wild: On Miklós Bánffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy”
“Seventeen years ago I wrote a book, which you can find on Amazon and Google and elsewhere online. This is unusual only because my book was never published. It’s called “Goths,” fitting for a title that has left its traces on the Internet but does not exist. The traces themselves are ghostly. Other than the title, Amazon lists only the publisher (Random House Trade), language (English) and ISBNs (one with 10 digits, the other with 13). Google goes further by giving the publication date (March 1, 1998) and promising a cover image — but it turns out to be a placeholder. And unlike Amazon, Google neglects to mention that the book is a hardcover. Google admits, “We haven’t found any reviews in the usual places,” which in this case would be the planet Earth. “Be the first to review this item,” Amazon encourages, but has as yet found no takers.”—It’s always disappointing when your novel fails to get published, but what if that novel were still lurking online? At The New York Times, Jason K. Friedmanwrites about finding the Amazon and Google links for his novel that never made it to print. Pair with: Our own Edan Lepucki’sessay on how to cope with not selling your novel.
“Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)”—If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrickused the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’spiece on commercial grammar.
“A few years ago, when I first starting reading and writing about Dovlatov, I focused on the wickedly humorous side of Dovlatov’s deadpan. But a few years later, and a few more books into his body of work, I find myself more interested in that earnestness and regret — in Dovlatov the evolving man and artist, who crafted and, yes, honed a version of himself in his fiction that was just distorted enough to be true.”—Sonya Chung, “Sergei Dovlatov: Gravity, Levity, and Love”
“But I think, you know, sometimes, there’s a tendency — I think there’s a great temptation to sort of resist what it is you do naturally. And I think that in a way, because we all want to expand, we all want to grow, we all want to do as much as we can. But at the same time, I think we have to have some faith in what we can do, too. Because I think there’s a certain amount of value in what’s closest to you intuitively and what style and what, not so much material, but in terms of what vantage and what voice and what way of looking at the world is natural has some value as well.”— Mona Simpson in an interview with Claire Luchette, “A Narrow Vantage: The Millions Interviews Mona Simpson”
“New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around. Rome says: enjoy me. London: survive me. New York: gimme all you got. What a thrilling proposition! The chance to be “all that you might be.” Such a thrill—until it becomes a burden. To put a face on—to put a self on—this had once been, for Miss Adele, pure delight. And part of the pleasure had been precisely this: the buying of things. She used to love buying things! Lived for it! Now it felt like effort, now if she never bought another damn thing again she wouldn’t even—”—Recommended Reading: The Paris Review has put its Zadie Smith short story “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets" online. "New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around.”
"This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on." John Jeremiah Sullivaninvestigates more mysterious musicians in The New York Times Magazine. Bonus: You can listen to their music as you read. For more of Sullivan’s music journalism, read his piece on the origins of ska.
My first serious relationship: I was only there for 3 months before another store wooed me away with the promise of something more serious — and we got serious really fast. I was hired as the assistant events director, but before long I was writing the newsletter, creating the window displays, and redesigning web pages. My life became inseparable from the bookstore. When my shift was over I would stay for upwards of an hour just talking to my coworkers, I was always there on my day off, and outside of my roommate my entire social life was the bookstore.
Those were the golden years of my bookseller life. I eventually left to start grad school in Ireland, but a part of me always wonders if I should have stayed, if I didn’t realize how good I had it. Isn’t your first serious relationship always also the one that got away?