Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
Everyone’s favorite scrappy San Fransisco literary web site, The Rumpus, has relaunched with a major redesign. Go over and poke around why don’t you? If you’re looking for a place to start, why not Roxane Gay’s recent essay on the New York Times Book Review section’s dismal numbers when it comes to reviewing books written by people of color?
The Orient Express began service on this day in 1883—Paris to Istanbul in 83.5 hours. Agatha Christie may be the most famous writer to have capitalized on the train’s romantic allure, but the list of books begins decades before her (Dracula, for example) and goes for decades after.
If you’re bored with the typical sexy firefighter holiday calendar, the Rhode Island Library Association can help. The Tattooed Librarians of the Ocean State 2014 calendar features Rhode Island librarians and their ink. “We’re trying to give a voice to the up-and-coming generation of librarians. We’re not your grandmother’s library,” librarian and association president Jenifer Bond said. You can buy your calendar at the site for $12-15.