“[Ludmilla] Petrushevskaya doesn’t write about isolated acts of depravity; she writes about universal ones,” says Michael Robbins in his review of There Once Lived a Girl. “What’s scary about her narratives is their implication that only the thinnest film, which might rip at any time, separates us from the chaos and breakdown they describe.” Our own Janet Potter also reviewed Petrushevskaya’s work this week, and she focused on the romantic hopes of its characters. “What’s remarkable,” Potter writes, “is not the love they find, but the fact that they’re looking for it.”
Moist-haters, unite: why do some people despise the sound of certain words?
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: "What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day - with a toothache that she can't afford to fix . . . - but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?" . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: "At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language." . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: "I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist."
Why do great books we read as children have a more profound effect on us than great books we read as adults? It’s hard to say, but YA novelist Anne Cardi comes up with a number of reasons, among them the ability of children’s books to permanently change our viewpoints. (FYI, we asked a bunch of teenagers to recommend last year’s best YA novels.)
Polish filmmaker Piotr Dumala spent three years working on his half-hour-long expressionistic adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and the result is a “destructive animation” that’s at once unnerving and beautiful. However in case you’re more pressed for time, you can also get your animated Russian literature fix by checking out Natalia Berezovaya and Svetlana Petrova’s two-minute-long animation for Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.