Scaachi Koul’s childhood friend introduced her to Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books candidly: “You’d probably like them,” she said. “They’re really depressing.” Now, in a piece for Buzzfeed, Koul explains how the works have helped her into adulthood. (Bonus: Koul’s forthcoming essay collection, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, made our Great 2017 Book Preview.)
“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson‘s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
This year’s Tournament of Books comes to an end today, after nearly a month of analyses, debates and thoughtful arguments. In the final round, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life squares off with James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, both of which are, in Héctor Tobar’s words, “unorthodox, historical novels.” Now that the verdicts are in, the only question is: who won? (You could also read the quarterfinal judged by our own Lydia Kiesling.)
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.