If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
“[Ludmilla] Petrushevskaya doesn’t write about isolated acts of depravity; she writes about universal ones,” says Michael Robbins in his review of There Once Lived a Girl. “What’s scary about her narratives is their implication that only the thinnest film, which might rip at any time, separates us from the chaos and breakdown they describe.” Our own Janet Potter also reviewed Petrushevskaya’s work this week, and she focused on the romantic hopes of its characters. “What’s remarkable,” Potter writes, “is not the love they find, but the fact that they’re looking for it.”
The latest installment in The Believer’s “What Would Twitter Do?” series (which we’ve mentioned before) features London Review of Books editor Christian Lorentzen, whose Twitter feed, Sheila Heti writes, “seem[s] like what someone who only expresse[s] himself as a fiction writer within the universe of twitter might come up with.” Meanwhile, Heti has a review of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman in (where else?) the LRB.
Recently, we featured five writers’ reminisces about the novels they ultimately shelved. Here a sixth, Elmo Keep, explains what led her to throw away her first novel, quite outside considerations of craft:”I could not resolve the conflict of a story that was not mine.”
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at “By The Book” on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: “I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, ‘It was worth it.’ If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome.”