“My sense, though, was that he was a very complicated man. He could enter a room and be the organizer of games and magic tricks and funny stories and a brilliant mimic and holding forth and entertaining and holding the center. But he was also incredibly controlling; he was domineering.” Ralph Fiennes on playing Charles Dickens.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Debut short story writer Matthew Vollmer gets some love.For those left baffled by descriptions of “the Purdie shuffle” in last week’s New Yorker and New York Times, the mighty Bernard “Pretty” Purdie offers a demonstration.At the International Edible Book Festival, you can chase down your Remembrance of Things Pasta with some Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Bread (via The Book Bench)Despite (or because of?) its compassionate ecumenicalism, Sana Krasikov’s One More Year wins the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize.A 1979 cover letter from then-unknown Kazuo Ishiguro, re: the story “Getting Poisoned.” Bonus features: Hemingwavian brevity, grease stains.The New York Times Magazine’s editor ponders the fate of long-form journalism……while Vanity Fair questions the Times’ relentless interactivity.Stephen King, once thought to be considering retirement, has been as prolific as ever, now announcing the November publication of a 1,120-page novel, Under the Dome, about a town that has been sealed off by an invisible force field.The Complete Review turns 10!30 Poets/30 Days: a celebration of children’s poetry”Notes and Errata” on D. T. Max’s profile of David Foster Wallace “The Unfinished.” (via kottke)Kassia Krozser says “Enough With The Smell of Books, Okay?” about the olfactory argument in the ebooks debate.William Zinsser on writing On Writing Well and keeping it up-to-date for 35 years.Google poses a literary stumper.
“[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others.” A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. “Empathy is what gives you the access,” he told us. “I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest.”