For Angelenos: Elif Batuman will be reading from The Possessed tonight at 7:00 at the LAPL Central Library. A conversation with LA Times Books Editor David Ulin follows the reading. More information and reservations here (tickets are free).
Following a recent essay on the value of ambivalence, our own Mark O’Connell explores the nature of confidence in this week’s New York Times Magazine. Perhaps not surprisingly, he writes that this year’s Web Summit convinced him that tech moguls are congenitally more confident than writers.
Why aren’t more people reading Italian literature? Is it due to an English “mistrust of ‘abroad’?” “Linguistic incompetence?” Or is it that “Italy’s not produced much that’s exciting or innovative … for a few hundred years?” Peter Hainsworth, author of Italian Literature: A Very Sort Introduction, investigates.
Need some inspiration? These quotes from Joan Didion are sure to make your day. Picked by noted Ayn Rand scholar Mallory Ortberg, they include such gems as “I’m from Sacramento, but it’s honestly not a big deal” and “California doesn’t remind me of the apocalypse at all.”
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.