Sam Sacks takes a look at the “two major acts” in the life of Vasily Grossman, the Jewish-Russian author perhaps best known for his monumental account of the Stalingrad siege, Life and Fate. (Bonus: Life and Fate was picked by Stephen Dodson as his Year in Reading pick back in 2011.)
Our own Kevin Hartnett has an interesting theory as to how Charles Dickens came up with the idea for A Christmas Carol. At The Boston Globe, he looks at the evidence that Dickens got inspiration from the amateur writings of millworkers in Massachusetts.
While calling for the preservation of the wonderful St. Marks Bookshop, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains that “magazines like The Paris Review need good bookstores, where the staff knows how to spread the word about good writing, face to face, hand to hand.”
David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: “It’s a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird.” The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.
Growing up in California, our own Michael Bourne didn’t have a full sense of his own privilege until 1981, when a chance encounter with a group of teenagers dressed up as skeletons woke him up to the realities of segregation in America. In a long essay for Orange Coast Review, he goes over the meaning of that incident, complete with meditations on Marin County, his abandoned early novel and his family’s history in Danville, Virginia. Pair with: Michael’s piece for The Millions on Tess Taylor’s The Forage House.