In January, I wrote about the release of William Styron’s letters, which reveal, among other things, that Styron requested a book on Nat Turner after visiting “the most enormous house [he’d] ever seen” in Cornwall. At the Times Literary Supplement, you can read more.
Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
Recommended listening: Radio Open Source has been broadcasting Anton Chekhov‘s short stories, with voices including Chekhov translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett, author Andre Dubus of House of Sand and Fog, and numerous other writers, actors, and scholars. “Chekhov makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to live a better life.” (Unpersuaded? Consider our essays on why reading Chekhov, unlike booze or smokes, will make you a better person in 2014.)
“Every one of these books is a herd of animals.” The Atlantic reports that a group of archaeologists and geneticists in the UK have used mere crumbs of parchment to study the DNA of several thousand-year-old illuminated manuscripts, the pages of which were made of cow and sheep skins.