What can we learn from anachronisms? That mistakes are "ultimately unavoidable – the best you can hope for is to keep them to a minimum and noticeable only by a tiny coterie of demanding experts" - and that if those mistakes are big enough, they can eventually turn into "enduring ideological constructs."
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.
"A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity." LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.
“Raymond Chandler did not invent the private eye — Dashiell Hammett and a few others got there first. But his vision is the one that caught the public eye and stuck most indelibly in the imagination, like — in one of his aromatic metaphors — ‘a tarantula on a slice of angel food.’” On a new biography of the man behind Phillip Marlowe.
A pair of debuts are making waves this week. Amy Waldman's The Submission ponders an alternate present in which a Muslim man is the anonymous winner of the search for a design to build the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. Ernest Kline's Player One is a "genre-busting," pop culture-infused take on the virtual reality future that awaits us.