Essayist and Russian literature scholar Elif Batuman in an interview with the Boston Globe on how the Russians get the combination of “funny and sad” better than the Germans, the English, or the French.
The biggest release of the week is, of course, the launch of the first Millions Original, Epic Fail (here’s our excerpt), by our own Mark O’Connell (We may be a bit biased there). Also out, Sam Roberts’s Grand Central, about the iconic train station, and, now available for the first time in a single, massive paperback volume, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.
“The American poem was not in a grave at that time; not by any measure. There was achievement, experiment, excitement. But there was also confinement. It could be felt in the air, in an ethos of conditional acceptance. A young woman poet was not yet a familiar sight. When Auden remarked about [Adrienne] Rich’s poems, after choosing her as a Yale Younger Poet, that they were ‘neatly and modestly dressed,’ it sounded more like a counsel for the nursery than acclaim for a new writer.” At The New Republic, Eavan Boland reflects on the legacy of the poet, whose posthumous collection, Later Poems, came out last week.
Our friends at Electric Literature are Kickstarting Papercuts, “a party game for the rude and well-read.” We would’ve pledged anyway, but this pitch sealed the deal: “It’s what Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, and Virginia Woolf would play if they were alive, locked in a room together, and forced to play a card game.” This Cards Against Humanity for the literary set will be delivered in time for Christmas, so keep it in mind for your erudite stocking stuffer needs.
“I war-gamed out everything. My biggest fear was that somebody tries to play out my book and finds out it won’t work.” At The New York Times, Alexandra Alter writes about the new Minecraft novel by Max Brooks, author of World War Z: “In the process, he may have also created a strange new entertainment category, one that hovers somewhere between fan fiction, role-playing games and literature — a novel set in a game, that can itself be played within the game.” And while we’re on the topic of games, let’s also talk about geekdom and race.