At a party thrown by Tom Stoppard in 1972, Kingsley Amis bumped into Roald Dahl, and was encouraged by the Matilda author to write a children’s book in order to make a quick buck. “The little bastards’d swallow it,” Dahl said.
What do you do if you’re Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you’re Tolstoy, you’ll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite,” usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: “Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice).” And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions‘s perennially popular “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater.”
“Independent bookstores are intellectual centers of a city.” Our own Bill Morris, who’s currently on tour for his latest book, Motor City Burning, writes for The Daily Beast about the importance and continued relevance of bookstores in the age of Amazon.
This month the Super Precious Gallery is displaying their “20th Century American Authors” exhibit, and it consists of thirteen pieces inspired by authors from the 1900s. Ten artists produced tributes to the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Doris Lessing, Thomas Pynchon and—this being Tumblr—Charles Bukowski.
In The Atlantic Adrienne Green reviews the growing number of Young Adult novels tackling racial injustice and how this increase on the topic is no coincidence. “Coming out of the crucible of the past few years—during which young people have been integral to pushing conversations about the unjustified killings of black men to the forefront—the novels capture the many ways that teens of color cope with prejudice, whether through activism or personal accountability or protest.”
“It is so chic to be an author. To be known for one’s writing is to be truly known, do you not think?” Mindy Kaling states in the beginning of B.J. Novak’s French New Wave satire book trailer. Novak isn’t just Ryan from The Office, he also writes fiction. His short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, will be out February 4th, but in the meantime, you can read an excerpt at NPR.