Chris Adrian‘s pedigree is impressive: former Harvard Divinity student; Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate; current fellow in UCSF’s pediatric hematology/oncology department; lifelong fan of Shakespeare. He’s also found time to appear in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and McSweeney’s. Great Night, his latest novel, imaginatively reboots A Midsummer Night’s Dream by setting it in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park. Here’s some footage of him reading an excerpt at last month’s FSG Reading Series.
“Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.” Here is Mary Gaitskill on Anna Karenina for The Atlantic’s By Heart series, in which writers reflect on some of their favorite passages in all of literature. We’ve brought you a bit on By Heart here, here, and here.
New this week: Craig Thompson’s long-awated follow up to Blankets is here. Stay tuned for our review of Habibi later this week. Also new: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, Aravind Adiga’s Last Man in Tower, Joe McGinniss’s much leaked exposé The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, and a new, posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein’s poetry and drawings, Every Thing On It.
In a new ten-part Believer series, Sheila Heti is interviewing ten of her “favorite people on Twitter” so they can “talk about what they do on Twitter and why – their Twitter philosophies, their do’s and don’ts, and what they make of the medium in general.” Kicking off the series, we have Heti’s interview with Kimmy Walters, who you may know better as @arealliveghost. (You can bookmark this link if you want to keep track of all of the updates.)
Francine Prose has a new novel out this week, while Elizabeth McCracken has a new story collection on shelves. Also out: Chestnut Street by the late Maeve Binchy; In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman; Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy; The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan; and new paperback editions of The Color Master by Aimee Bender and The Infatuations by Javier Marias.
Slate has translated famous first lines of literature into emojis, and they’re surprisingly coherent. Pair with Jonathan Russell Clark‘s essay on opening sentences.
As the holiday shopping wars heat up, Amazon has announced a surprise offer of free one-day shipping through December 22 on thousands of items, but not, as best as I can tell, books. Of course, in Amazon’s eyes, all those ebooks already ship instantaneously.
“No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself.” Over at The New Yorker‘s Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley’s slim output “is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk.” Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.