Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
Forget “Gangnam Style.” The next Korean musical craze should involve the sijo (pronounced “shee-jo”), a type of poem dating back to the 1300s, and, “up until the 20th century … was mostly composed and sung, not written and published.” You can listen to a performance of Yi Cho’nyön’s “Moonlight Pear Blossoms” over here.
“As much as there is an evergreen fascination for Christie’s stories, there’s also an alluring air of mystery surrounding the woman herself.” Broadly explores the enduring nature of Agatha Christie‘s stories, the recent surge in adaptations (including Murder on the Orient Express), and the mysterious 11-day disappearance of the writer herself. From our archives: an essay on the sometimes inherent predictability of the mystery genre.