Three thousand Russians volunteered to proofread “forty-six thousand eight hundred pages” of Leo Tolstoy’s writings over the course of fourteen days. Soon their efforts will be available online for all to see. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed is catching some heat for enlisting the services of unpaid Duolingo students in order to translate site content for Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese readers.
A new Margaret Atwood novel is out this week, as is a new book by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee. Also out: The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell, At the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick and Duplex by Kathryn Davis. For more on these and other upcoming releases, check out our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.
NPR's Maureen Corrigan applauds Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna for "single-handedly keeping consumer zest alive for the literary novel," as "the only literary novel caught in the cross hairs" of the price wars waged by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target against booksellers (the others being genre novels). As for the book itself: "I wish I could say she also deserves kudos for writing a spectacular work of fiction..."
The Austen Project, launched last year, asks prominent contemporary writers to reimagine Jane Austen's classics in modern times. (Thus far, we've seen Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility and Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey.) In perhaps the most significant adaptation yet, Curtis Sittenfeld has announced that her Pride and Prejudice will feature a 39-year-old Jane Bennet. After all, Jane (23 in the original novel), is "pretty much teetering on the edge of spinsterhood."
"Every culture has its monsters," and Jason Diamond writes about the Headless Horseman and one of the oldest American horror stories for Electric Literature.
What do you do if you're Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you're Tolstoy, you'll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite," usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: "Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice)." And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions's perennially popular "Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who's Greater."
“The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. And on almost equal terms; for it is one of the qualities of this kind of writing that the thing that makes people read it never goes out of style.” Raymond Chandler’s 1950 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder” is a real gem.