In his review of Ben Marcus‘s The Flame Alphabet for the LARB, Lee Konstantinou suggests that we have now moved well beyond the death of the author: “In an era where everyone has a novel waiting to come out, authors are legion; it’s the reader who seems, well, dead.” When we interviewed Marcus earlier this year he did not seem particularly mournful. We also reviewed the novel.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.
“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”
“Everywhere in the language of this collection is the deliberate and sustained glorification of the human. Long after his 11 months in what he calls the Lager (Auschwitz III), as a survivor, Primo Levi understands evil as not only banal but unworthy of our insight – even of our intelligence, for it reveals nothing interesting or compelling about itself.” Toni Morrison on The Complete Works of Primo Levi in The Guardian.
“I’m interested in character. I’m especially interested in how language—story, memory, names, word choice—reflects and reveals character. The language of the Catholic Church—the liturgy, the prayer, the gospels—was in many ways my first poetry. ” Year in Reading alumna Alice McDermott discusses her short story, “These Short, Dark Days,” published in the latest The New Yorker.