“[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.”
Our staff writer Nick Ripatrazone has published two books in the last year – the short story collection Good People and the novella We Will Listen For You – and both have recently been reviewed in New Jersey papers, which agree that the books are “an invitation to look beyond the stone walls of churches and gape in wonder at the world and the unknowable vistas beyond.” Pair with Nick’s ever-relevant essays on teaching English and becoming a writer, not a priest.
New this week are Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt, Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse by Denis Johnson, Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays by Siri Hustvedt, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Team Cul de Sac, a book done in tribute to the great comic done by Richard Thompson and to raise money for research into Parkinson’s, which Thompson was diagnosed with in 2009.
On February 17th, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program will launch a free digital course open to everybody with an internet connection. The course is entitled “Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself,” and registration is now open. The course will “take a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic.”
John Cage–renowned composer, music theorist, writer, artist, and Zen enthusiast–is a a veritable treasure trove of Curiosities. Here’s a video from 1973 of Cage performing his most famous piece, 4’33”, in Harvard Square. It’s hard for even the man himself to top the genius of this inspired performance, however.