Lots of diet books among the new releases these days (in preparation for the post-holiday food guilt one assumes), but readers will also find a vibrant new “biography-in-collage” out this week, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss.
Vladimir Nabokov spent twenty years translating “the first and fundamental Russian novel,” Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. His battle with the text sparked an intellectual debate with his former friend, Edmund Wilson. The Paris Review has his notes. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s thoughts on Lolita.
If you’re struggling with your writing, turn to biographies of famous authors. This is Tom Perrotta’s cure for writer’s block. “It’s inspiring to read about a flawed human being who struggled with his or her demons and afflictions, experienced paralyzing episodes of failure or self-doubt, but somehow managed to do the work anyway, and produce something that enriched the world. That’s my version of self-help,” he said in a New York Times “By the Book” interview.
Aspiring writers who’ve long dreamed of critical acclaim will no doubt be slightly miffed at Tana French’s admission that her writing “happened by accident.” As the former actress explains to The Guardian, writing In the Woods was a subconscious, almost involuntary experience: “I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter.”
For the most part, Tolstoy is known as a realist, despite his work’s occasional dips into fancy. Yet the plotlines of his great novels featured long and important dream sequences. In The New York Review of Books, Janet Malcolm argued that Tolstoy was a master of dreams, using Anna Karenina as proof.