“I would have been an abject failure in a writing program. I am not unteachable, but I am probably the only person who can teach myself. I don’t learn extremely well, formally. I wouldn’t even consider myself a very good reader. Maybe a slightly above average reader.” At The Morning News, Robert Birnbaum sits down with Charles Yu.
If you run into trouble in Iceland, blame the elves. 54.4 percent of Icelanders believe in the invisible creatures, and elves cause environmental protest today. “Beliefs in misfortune befalling those who dare to build in elf territory is so widespread and frequent that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has created a five-page ‘standard reply’ for press inquiries about elves,” Ryan Jacobs writes for The Atlantic. Pair with: our essay on Icelandic writer Sjón.
“But reading Finnegans Wake is more than a matter of collecting one’s favorite quotations – even if there is a huge pleasure in that, especially if you admire truly terrible jokes.” Michael Wood writes an essay on James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and the origins of clever wordplay for the London Review of Books.
In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.