At the New York Times, Elif Batuman has a long and absorbing article on the trial over Kafka’s manuscripts: “It’s impressive that [Kafka’s] sisters had between them four lawyers, although, to put things in perspective, Josef K. at one point meets a defendant who has six.”
“I’ve come to understand that I’ll rarely experience that first rush of discovery again, and perhaps that’s the problem with re-reading. It reminds us both of where we’ve been and where we can’t go again.” Sarah Seltzer wonders why do we reread books as children but not as adults? Pair with Lisa Levy‘s essay on “The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading.”
Recommended Listening: an interview with David Foster Wallace recorded the year Infinite Jest was published. Pair with these interviews and thoughts about what we mean when we talk about “rare” recordings.
“Storytelling is an indispensable human preoccupation, as important to us all—almost—as breathing. From the mythical campfire tale to its explosion in the post-television age, it dominates our lives. It behooves us then to try and understand it.” On the inherent sameness of stories with John Yorke from The Atlantic.
A mom sat her six-year-old daughter down in front of some classic books and asked her to guess the story based on the cover. The results are both charming and eerily accurate. I’m glad we at least now know what lies in the liminal space between Lev Grossman and kittens inspired by kittens.
Can’t wait for Haruki Murakami’s new novel? You’re in luck: Slate just published an exclusive excerpt from the book. Sample quote: “No matter how quiet and conformist a person’s life seems, there’s always a time in the past when they reached an impasse. A time when they went a little crazy. I guess people need that sort of stage in their lives.” (You could also read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84.)
“No novel gets uniformly enthusiastic reviews, but the polarized responses to The Goldfinch lead to the long-debated questions: What makes a work literature, and who gets to decide?” Vanity Fair has big questions and lots of opinions about Donna Tartt‘s latest novel, which we’ve covered pretty extensively ourselves.