ICYMI, J.J. Abrams (of Lost and Star Trek fame) will release a novel — conceived by Abrams and written by Doug Dorst — in October with the enigmatic title of S. Last month, he released the first half of a teaser trailer; this week, he released the second half.
Calling a book “the spiritual prequel to The Road” is a great way to signal its command of dystopian tropes. It’s what Gabe Durham wrote about Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s recent YA novel Echo of the Boom. At The Rumpus, Durham interviews Neely-Cohen, who describes how he tried to give a metafictional bent to the novel. Related: we asked high school students to pick their favorite YA books of 2013.
If you didn’t like Elif Batuman‘s gut-punch to MFA writing (“Get A Real Degree”) in this issue of the London Review of Books, might I suggest Jenny Diski’s cudgeling of self-help lit in the LRB’s Diary essay?
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.