Edith Wharton is known as a novelist but she was also a wonderful hostess, whose guests (including Henry James) remember her as “kindness and hospitality incarnate.” Kate Bolick has turned Wharton’s life-long attempt to master “the complex art of civilized living” into an entertaining guide, “The Guesthouse of Mirth,” just in time for those last few summer parties. Pair with Roxana Robinson‘s reflections on Wharton’s life and works, including the original The House of Mirth.
"Chekhov’s contemporaries wondered: What sort of Russian writer was he? He had no solution to the ultimate questions. With no 'general idea' to teach, wasn’t he more like a talented Frenchman or Englishman born in the wrong place?" (And our own Sonya Chung argues that personal character was in fact his "general idea.")
We recently ran a piece called "Where We Write," in which our staff writers posted photographs of their work spaces. Apartment Therapy has taken it a step further and revealed where some famous and not-so-well-known writers slept. Turns out a bedroom, like a work space, speaks volumes about a writer. But one question remains: What the hell is Patti Smith doing on William S. Burroughs's bed?
We cover a decent number of literary awards here at The Millions, but we, like most magazines, have a tendency to focus on the present. At the LARB, Andrew Nicholls makes up for this by recounting the very first book awards, in which Mooluu’s “The Beast Attacked” goes head-to-head with Kurtan the Elder’s “Why Half My Face is Missing.” You could also read our own Mark O’Connell on why we care about literary prizes to begin with.
“By running two lives that started from the same point off along divergent tracks, they throw up questions about our uniqueness, and the chances and choices that make us who we are.” On identical twins in literature, from Stephen King to Shakespeare. Also check out Ramona Ausubel’s essay on first children and first novels.