“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. Don’t let this dissuade you from revising again and again, which can really improve a piece of writing.” Albert Camus, creative writing instructor.
Since 2010, Russian publishing professionals estimate that “as many as 20% of [all] Russian book stores have closed.” Each year, they fear, the number of “dedicated readers in Russia declines by 2%.” To remedy these trends, the Russian government has recently approved a $100 million stimulus package for the nation’s book industry – running the gamut from investment in new bookstores, to tax incentives for small presses, and also to more international book fairs – to be dispersed through 2018. Recently, Emily Parker noted in The New York Times that Russia’s literary problems might be blamed on its lack of “good protest literature.”
D.T. Max, author of Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, the recently released biography on David Foster Wallace, discusses writing his much-anticipated look at the late author's life. Further whet your appetite for DFW's biography with our exclusive look at the book's opening paragraphs.
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.
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a "Serial in Documentary Uncertainty" masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features "a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion," and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though "the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis."
Is just me, or has The New Yorker been resurgent the last few weeks? In addition to the David Grann piece mentioned below, we've gotten: Bloomberg, diving, James Wood's most cogent essay to date on atheism and belief, and a F-B-P triple play. (That's Friend to Bilger to Paumgarten, for those keeping score at home.) And I read the fiction for five issues in a row - a personal best. I know they assemble these things far in advance, but it still feels like the Ian Frazier "Siberia" two-parter, eight years in the making, started some kind of conflagration of awesomeness. Thoughts?