Mourning the death of the Waldenbooks at the mall. “But in a way I’m glad, as this means that yet another supposed agent of publishing’s ever-imminent death is now biting the dust itself.”
The Times has announced its long-awaited (and -feared) digital subscription plan: “Under the plan, which begins on March 28, visitors to NYTimes.com will be able to read 20 articles a month free. The most frequent users will pay $15 a month; print subscribers will have unlimited access.” A letter to readers about the plan from Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.
For its spring issue, the Paris Review will be publishing Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich—its first serialized novel in forty years—with original illustrations by Leanne Shapton. It’s a chance to discover Bolaño’s famous lost novel almost a year before it appears in book form.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
When The New York Times tried to ask Jhumpa Lahiri what immigrant fiction inspired her, she smacked the question down by saying there is no such thing as immigrant fiction. “If certain books are to be termed immigrant fiction, what do we call the rest? Native fiction? Puritan fiction? This distinction doesn’t agree with me. Given the history of the United States, all American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction.”
If you read Lydia Kiesling’s recent piece about Granta’s Young British Novelists and thought to yourself, “That John Freeman guy sounds like a grand ol’ chap, but I think I could do his job better,” then I have two things to say: 1) That’s kind of a rude thing to think to yourself. And 2) You’re in luck, I guess, because he’s in need of a replacement.