“Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.” Here is Mary Gaitskill on Anna Karenina for The Atlantic’s By Heart series, in which writers reflect on some of their favorite passages in all of literature. We’ve brought you a bit on By Heart here, here, and here.
A very thoughtful essay by Millions contributor Patrick at his home base, the Vromans bookstore blog. The nut of the piece is the idea that publishers can and should create stronger brand identities. Patrick points out some publishers that are already doing this, and there’s some great stuff in the comments as well. The piece is a reaction to an equally interesting essay from if:book.
The work of Elvio Gandolfo, whose novel Cada vez más cerca (“Each Time Closer”) won Argentina’s equivalent of the Pulitzer in 2013, is rarely published in English. So it’s a special treat to find his magical story about a whale falling out of the sky, newly translated for the anthology A Thousand Forests in One Acorn, available free at Ninth Letter.
Next week, the folks at Literary Death Match are bringing literature into the third dimension by staging “LDM TV: The Pilot.” Two shows consisting of four readers apiece will take place in Los Angeles, and performances will be judged by a killer lineup including such notables as Susan Orlean, Michael C. Hall, Moby and Tig Notaro. Full event details can be found here. For what it’s worth, I still rank Matt Gajewski’s LDM performance as my all-time favorite, so Beau Sia, Simon Rich, Daniel Alarcón and company have their work cut out for them.
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.