Last year Russians wrestled over Tolstoy much as they did when he was alive. The New York Times documents Russian statesman Sergei V. Stepashin’s difficult journey to rehabilitate Tolstoy’s reputation.
“I think the key to social media for authors is remembering this: its main purpose is really to show that you are a real human being who lives in this world.” Year in Reading alums (respectively) Celeste Ng, Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, and Adam M. Grant talk to LitHub about how to be a writer on the internet.
Recommended Reading: Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel on why jihadists write poetry.
What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
Saul Bellow met Jack Ludwig at Bard College in the fifties. The two became friends, and founded a magazine together, called The Noble Savage. Then, not long after the magazine began running, Ludwig started an affair with Bellow’s wife. Here’s the letter Bellow sent him when he found out. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel on Bellow’s novel The Bellarosa Connection.
“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.