“Every evening we spent an hour and a half in the drawing-room, and, as far back as I can remember, he found some way of amusing us himself…many of the great English poems now seem to me inseparable from my father; I hear in them not only his voice, but in some sort his teaching and belief,” Virginia Woolf wrote of her father for his biographer, but who was Leslie Stephen, exactly?
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story "River So Close": “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.
At Bookforum, Alexander Benaim reads the latest novel by Jess Row, which I wrote about as part of our most recent book preview. The novel poses a charged, intriguing question: what would happen if it were possible to change your race? (It might also be a good time to read the author’s Year in Reading entry along with our own Mark O'Connell's review of the novel at Slate.)
Those of you with brothers or sisters will not be surprised to learn that siblings who are both writers tend to be a wee bit competitive. In a piece for the Poetry Foundation, Casey N. Cep runs through a few famous examples, among them the Bröntes, the Wordsworths and Charles and Mary Lamb. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
The New York Review of Books gets into the blog game with...well, it's not a blog, exactly, but then I guess neither are we these days. With The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post also clamoring for the attention of bookish web-surfers, there's more book-focused content online than ever. So why do I find most of it gives me a headache?
Though the world may never know whether reading the greats makes you a better person, according to a recent study, those who take an active interest in the arts are more likely to be altruistic.
Who’s ready for a trip to Tokyo? Sadie Stein at The Paris Review breaks the lid on a veritable Shangri-La for book lovers, a quasi-bunkhouse known as Book and Bed. Book and Bed is a bunkhouse-slash-bookstore that doesn’t actually sell books. Instead, they have a number of rather spartan beds built inside row after row of bookshelves. Their noble goal is also a simple one; to offer “an experience shared by everyone at least once: the blissful instant of falling asleep while reading.”
If Fantasy Football is football for people who don't like dirt or concussions, here's a Fantasy Football for people who don't like football. Book Riot has the details, which involve tracking your favorite authors' career highlights much like an athlete's: "publishes a book," sure, but also "appears in another author’s book trailer," "fatwa issued against author," and "dies." Our own Edan Lepucki makes the Rookies bracket, but, please--no fatwas just to win.