“It has been said of the Beatles that there is not a clunker of a song in their oeuvre because they simply never let the bad stuff get released. The same might be said of Nabokov—for ‘Camera Obscura’ shows that he was indeed capable of writing a second-rate novel. (He knew it, and rewrote it.)” John Colapinto looks at Nabokov‘s retranslation of Laughter in the Dark for The New Yorker.
Another day, another LARB piece about reading Russian fiction in conjunction with the Winter Olympics. (One particularly interesting earlier installment is over here.) Meanwhile, I offer a compendium of passages from the Russian masters, and use my favorite #SochiFails to illustrate them.
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story's insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
"Independent bookstores are intellectual centers of a city." Our own Bill Morris, who's currently on tour for his latest book, Motor City Burning, writes for The Daily Beast about the importance and continued relevance of bookstores in the age of Amazon.