“[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place.” Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, Ruchama King Feuerman—featured at Bloom in January—will go on tour to read & discuss her novel In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist. The tour kicks off today at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Book & Arts Fair in Houston; check NYRB’s event page for more upcoming appearances.
The VQR‘s last issue, “The Soviet Ghost,” was one of the most heart-wrenching reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. Now it’s got a series of video interviews with Chernobyl workers to seriously depress (and also greatly inform) you all over again.
“That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. … What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic.” Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki‘s essay on likability in fiction.
“I fought the urge to throw up in my hands as I asked myself, ‘How the fuck did I get here?’” When you’re a jewel mule, as Kayli Stollak describes in this piece for The Establishment (via Narratively), going through customs can be a little stressful. For more lurid tales of crime and aristocratic extravagance, see our own Matt Seidel‘s review of Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle.