“Chekhov’s contemporaries wondered: What sort of Russian writer was he? He had no solution to the ultimate questions. With no ‘general idea’ to teach, wasn’t he more like a talented Frenchman or Englishman born in the wrong place?” (And our own Sonya Chung argues that personal character was in fact his “general idea.”)
Literary Twitter has been on fire with #ManlyBookClubNames since The New York Times style section reported that apparently men have book clubs, too. “Perhaps because participation in reading groups is perceived as a female activity, some all-male book clubs have an outsize need to proclaim the endeavor’s masculinity.” If you’re looking for a book club, consider joining Adam Boretz’s Football Book Club.
As Alden Jones puts it, a “sex-death-art trifecta” is the core of The Small Backs of Children, the new book by Lidia Yuknavitch. At The Rumpus, he talks with the author about the novel, which centers on a war photographer who takes an iconic photo in Eastern Europe. You could also read the author’s Millions essay from last week.
“How earnest, ironic, condescending, moralistic and simply funny a Tolstoy should the translator inhabit? Perhaps the only way to render Tolstoy’s variable voice is to continue producing ever-varying translations.” Masha Gessen looks at the latest English translations of Anna Karenina and breaks down their nuances of word choice and accumulated meaning for The New York Times Book Review, and along the way she questions the novel’s most famous line: just how alike are happy families? How can we know?