“Why do we lust for lists?” Sandra M. Gilbert may not have an answer, but she does have a response to all those “100 Best American Novels” lists (and a list of her own). The Millions has a few lists too, of course – be sure to check out Janet Potter‘s “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To.”
Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
Humans have been covering paintings, windows, and mirrors after the passing of loved ones for generations. Why do we feel the need to close off our connection to the outside world when we are grieving? Colin Dickey writes about the social, literary, and religious connotations of grief and memory at Hazlitt. At The Millions, Lidia Yuknavitch writes about channeling her grief into art.
It’s a common saying among actors that the script does most of the work. Which raises an interesting question: is it possible for a great writer to make art out of a bad story? At The Kenyon Review’s blog, Amit Majmudar says it is, using Shakespeare as proof. Related: five experts on the Bard’s greatest plays.
Our own Bill Morris (the man Michiko Kakutani once compared favorably to John Updike) is hitting the road in support of his novel Motor City Burning, and you can catch him now as he swings through the South before heading to the Midwest. Elsewhere, see what Detroit’s hometown paper learned from Bill about a novel that mines the city’s fractious history.
Neil Gaiman’s newest graphic novel isn’t even out yet, but it already has a movie deal. His update on the Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel with illustrations by Lorenzo Mattotti comes out on October 28, and Juliet Blake is developing a live action version. Hopefully, it’s better than Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.