You’ve probably heard it before: never end a story with the phrase “it was all a dream.” Unfortunately for the person who taught you this rule, many classic stories (including Anna Karenina) take place at least partially in dreams. In the NYRB, Francine Prose investigates the trope in fiction.
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
The Big Friendly Giant is coming to the big screen. Steven Spielberg will direct a live adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG about a little girl and a friendly giant trying to stop his friends from eating children. If you had any doubt that Spielberg could bring sympathy to a mythical creature, he’ll be pairing up with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison again.
Apropos of our popular “Open Letter to Kanye West,” may we recommend the “Shouts & Murmurs in this week’s New Yorker? “I have more than a million [Facebook] fans,” writes a certain unnamed narrator. “Do you know how many fans Books have? Twenty-five thousand seven hundred and sixty-four.”