“[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.”
"Loss isn’t science; it’s a human reckoning." The New York Times posts an e-mail conversation between Joyce Carol Oates and Meghan O'Rourke on why we write about grief, following the release of Oates' memoir A Widow's Story and in anticipation of O'Rourke's own memoir of loss, The Long Goodbye.
My essay on Zadie Foster Franzenides and the current state of literary aesthetics is in this weekend's New York Times Magazine.
Stephen J. Gertz shows off some of Bukowski's artwork; Sketches of F. Scott drawn by Zelda Fitzgerald and a portrait of their relationship by Anne Margaret Daniel; An interview with three of the more than 130 artists involved with The Graphic Canon, a series of illustrated literary classics.