Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
“We have a customer who eats Bibles. She’s very nice, but she will walk up to a section, rip out a page, and eat it. She much prefers Catholic versions—she won’t touch King James Bibles.” This interview with the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston illustrates the peculiar idiosyncrasies of daily bookstore life. For all you romantics out there, here is a love letter to the brick-and-mortar bookstore.
Qiu Miaojin was a Taiwanese novelist and lesbian activist, and her short life has had a profound impact on queer literature since her suicide in 1995. Recently Bonnie Huie received a PEN translation grant so she could bring Miaojin’s best-known work, Notes of a Crocodile, to an English-speaking audience. You can read an excerpt of Huie’s translation on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop online publishing platform, The Margins.
Some of the most revered literary novels that have appeared in recent years will be adapted for television. Jonathon Sturgeon writes for Flavorwire, “What do we call this new relationship between prestige and streaming TV and the literary novel? The two now shape each other in peculiar, formal ways—like lovers who share an apartment, they’ve started speaking and looking alike.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary magazines in film and TV.
"A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity." LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.
Recommended viewing: Open Culture has tracked down two animated adaptations of Dostoevksy's work. There's one of his short story "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" "in full-on existentialist mode," and slightly more ambitious (though dramatically abridged) short film of Crime and Punishment.