Giles Harvey discusses the ways in which Anton Chekhov’s characters — as dramatized in his stories and a new stage production — “long to express their innermost desires … but instead they find themselves saying things like, ‘Why did I go out to lunch?’ “
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.
“How can we trust ourselves? Trust that our skills will return? Trust that this blank document—this one, right now—won’t be our undoing? The previous essay I wrote won’t save me when the blank document stares, and the deadline looms, and the editor lurks, and the readers wait.” Mensah Demary on writing and forgetting.
“In this here place, we flesh; … Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it.” Toni Morrison‘s Beloved as featured in a powerful essay by Allyson Hobbs for The Root about black life, Philando Castile, “and the trauma that remains.” See also: a consideration of parallels between Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic and The Odyssey.
Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.