Are you lover or writer of florid longwinded codswollop? The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest might be for you.
Pankaj Mishra caught up with Orhan Pamuk in the midst of Turkey’s Gezi Park turmoil, and though the Nobel laureate was at first “reluctant to speak of the protests,” he occasionally let down his guard. In those instances, writes Mishra, Pamuk “revealed a shrewd political mind and a confidence about the new social consciousness the demonstrators represent.”
Robert Krulwich takes on two very different types of “nothing.” As he illustrates through the invocation of Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, and outer space, “nothing” is a lot more complicated than you might initially believe.
What do you do if you’re Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you’re Tolstoy, you’ll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite,” usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: “Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice).” And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions‘s perennially popular “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater.”
Patti Smith’s M Train was released this Tuesday. Geoffrey O’Brien reviews her memoir at The New York Review of Books: “Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication.” Need more music? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.