Isotropic Films has begun filming a “fresh, modern horror [film] version” of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. At The New York Review of Books, Mark Harman offers a new translation of the late author’s “A Message From the Emperor,” which Harman calls “hauntingly oblique.” Further away still, Elif Batuman recognizes some Kafkaesque street signage in Turkey.
“So much of the way books get classified has to do with marketing decisions. I think it’s more useful to think of literary books and sci-fi/fantasy books as existing on a continuum. To oppose them, to suggest that one category excludes the other, always feels bogus to me.” Talking with Karen Russell.
“Each imaginary book is a demonstration of fiction’s magic, as an author deposits into a fictional world yet another fictional world, like one universe bubbling out of another.” On Borges and other authors’ fictional texts and his library of imaginary books. Jeff Peer introduces us to Borges as a professor in his review of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature.
"Because what [narcissists] have inside is empty space, they have had to make a study of the selves of others in order to invent something that looks and sounds like one. Narcissists are imitators par excellence. And they do not copy the small, boring parts of selves. They take what they think are the biggest, most impressive parts of other selves, and devise a hologram of self that seems superpowered. Let’s call it 'selfiness,' this simulacrum of a superpowered self." Go enjoy this excerpt from Kristin Dombek's new book The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism.
“This is a tricky novel to review. I'm not even sure it is a novel. And I'm not certain as to whether its fragmentary nature belies an organic structure of astutely sewn intention or is merely a disingenuous device to conceal a let's-get-something-out cobbling together of unpublished material lying around the writer's desk. What I can tell you is this: I was powerfully engaged and richly entertained by Sergio De La Pava’s Personae.” (Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote a profile of De La Pava.)
“That to me was the rub. A writer freed from the need to calibrate with reality, or even be internally consistent, could put a washing machine into the sky along with a rainbow. So why not put a rhinoceros up there too?” On negative literary influences.
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.