Writers have long been attracted to duels, if only because, for the most part, they offer an easy way to ramp up the conflict in a story. At Page-Turner, James Guida takes a look at their enduring relevance, with reference to the history of the duel in Europe. Pair with: our own Nick Moran on duels in Russian literature.
Book Three of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle is out this week, as is a new novel by Millions contributor Emma Straub. Also out: The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner; The Untold by Courtney Collins; Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird; Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; and a new volume of the Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
It takes a certain skill to link Taipei by Tao Lin, My Struggle Part I and Part II by Karl Ove Knausgaard and an old book on Italian painting in a single essay, but Zadie Smith is (naturally) the writer for the job. In a new piece for The NY Review of Books, she asks the reader to “imagine [a drawing of a corpse] represents an absolute certainty about you, namely, that you will one day be a corpse.”
"Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff." Over at McSweeney's, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
“The peace may be holding, but the process is faltering,” writes Colum McCann, forty years after the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, in his evaluation of Ireland’s present relationship with the “Troubles.” “It is, of course, naïve to expect total reconciliation,” he continues. “Some grievances are so deep that the people who suffered them will never be satisfied. But the point is not satisfaction — the point is that the present is superior to the past, and it has to be cultivated as such.”
“There is a wide range of art in the world, but there is an urgent need for art that pushes us and makes us uncomfortable because it forces us to think, to question, to give into it, to resist.” Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay writes on Internet censorship and Dennis Cooper’s now deleted blog.