Alice Bolin writes for The Believer about Joan Didion, Los Angeles, and Play It As It Lays. The novel was also listed as one of The Millions‘s “Burnt-out Summer Reads,” so if there’s ever a time to read it, it’s probably now.
Chekhov never published an autobiography, but he did once write a letter in which, in Chekhovian fashion, he summed up his life in a paragraph. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the Constance Garnett translation of this letter in full. You could also check out Brendan Mathews on reading Chekhov for self-improvement.
“I always think, ‘What if I can’t?’ Then I always think, ‘Oh shit, don’t think that.’ Because thinking about it can make it happen. Not like it’s happened that often. But I get scared about it. We all do. Anybody that tells you they don’t they’re full of it. They’re always scared it might happen.” There’s a lot of really bad writing about sex. This is a piece about some of the good stuff.
Simon DeDeo writes for AGNI about the first line of Paradise Lost, John Milton’s first disobedience. As he explains it, “The line is a syllable too much. In Milton’s blank verse epic—iambic pentameter, five sets of two-syllable feet—the opening has eleven syllables, not ten.”