What’s a Wordsworth scholar to do when nature offers him no epiphanies?
You’ve probably heard it before: never end a story with the phrase “it was all a dream.” Unfortunately for the person who taught you this rule, many classic stories (including Anna Karenina) take place at least partially in dreams. In the NYRB, Francine Prose investigates the trope in fiction.
Qiu Miaojin was a Taiwanese novelist and lesbian activist, and her short life has had a profound impact on queer literature since her suicide in 1995. Recently Bonnie Huie received a PEN translation grant so she could bring Miaojin’s best-known work, Notes of a Crocodile, to an English-speaking audience. You can read an excerpt of Huie’s translation on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop online publishing platform, The Margins.
Forget the Dos Equis guy. John Fairfax was truly “the most interesting man in the world” and, if you don’t believe me, read this series of lines from his actual obituary: “At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle. At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate.”
Remember when Little Red Riding Hood was eaten by a hyena? Wait, that’s not the folktale we know. Whether or not Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten depends on where you hear the famous folktale, but anthropologist Jamie Tehrani discovered the origins of the scarlet-hooded girl — Belgium.
Out this week: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami; The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively; Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane; House of Names by Colm Toibin; and Woman No. 17 by our own Edan Lepucki. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
When asked about his tenure as a professor of creative writing, Harry Crews used to say, “I may be at the university, but I damn sure ain’t of the university.” But in talking to his former students, Crews’s biographer, Ted Geltner, found that in spite of the writer’s efforts to distance himself from academia, he really was a passionate, memorable teacher. (Bonus: Yours truly named one Crews work his “most representative” Florida book.)