In Karen Russell‘s Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. “It held a cargo of books,” Ava Bigtree explains, “In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors.” Now something similar has moored in England’s canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that “Anton Chekhov’s “Sakhalin Island“, his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century.” Pair Sharma’s argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung‘s “I Heart Checkov” essay.