“Her characters sleepwalk to their certain fates through artificial pocket universes, each one seemingly constructed to satisfy the curiosity of an inhumane, omniscient narrator. Few writers have been so consistently and brilliantly unkind.” On Muriel Spark’s The Bachelors.
There are many flavors of noir, but the one that may be the most relevant to our lives today, Julia Ingalls argues, is corporate noir, which often takes the form of science fiction. At the LARB, she writes about several examples of the genre, including Alan Glynn’s Graveland and Natsuo Kirino’s Out.
“The company has forged a chain uncommon in mainstream publishing: an unbroken line of black women, from the novel’s protagonist, via the author, to the editor, to the art director who created the cover art (featuring a black woman).” Meet the trio of Black women at Kensington Publishing who are changing (modernizing) the traditional lily white romance genre.
Francis Spufford’s fictionalized book Red Plenty looks to the 1950s-1960s “cybernetics” initiative to answer one of the main questions about the USSR: “Could the Soviet project to build communism have succeeded, or was it doomed to failure from the start?” In his review for The Hoover Institution, Marshall Poe contends the latter.
“I would argue that decent books coverage in a daily newspaper — especially when it’s presented in such a way that readers are likely to stumble over it and discover titles they might not otherwise have heard of — is more supportive of writers in the long run than a scholarship program.” At Salon, Laura Miller explores literary culture and the downsides of the MFA, which include teaching high school.
The Mississippi was integral to Mark Twain’s fiction, so David Carkeet traced Twain’s path on the river in the new issue of Smithsonian. “What would Samuel Clemens have made of the Riverwalk? He was a grown child who readily took a God’s-eye view of life on earth. He would have loved it.” Pair with: Our essay on Twain’s travel writing.
Tolstoy has a new book out. No, not that Tolstoy — Sofiya Tolstoy, wife of Leo Nikolayevich. Her long-lost novella, which languished for years in the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, has finally been published, as part of an expanded edition of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata. At Slate, Ron Rosenbaum praises her story, calling it “graceful, emotionally intuitive and heartbreaking.” Related: 8 experts on whether Leo Tolstoy is better than Dostoevsky.