Comics fans will know that a new Marvel storyline may — just possibly — reunite Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. This has, understandably, produced a range of reactions, not least of which is this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who argues that the two embody a healthy marriage. “[Their] marriage was a rejection of the macho ideal of romance—which reigns even among nerds—and it mirrored and confirmed my own budding sense of what love was at a very young age,” he writes. You could also read Paul Morton on the character of Peter Parker.
In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.
Amber Sparks investigates why short stories are overlooked. She writes, “Most people really don’t like short stories. And that includes lots of critics, who often seem to regard short story collections as a warm-up for the real thing.” Pair with Paul Vidich’s Millions piece about the future of the short story.
Reif Larsen’s “The Crying of Page 45” appears in this month’s issue of The Believer. This clever, inventive essay is excerpted from the book I co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. You can get a taste of the piece at The Believer website, but the full essay in all its illustrated glory is available in the print magazine as well as in, of course, the book.
“My scant respect for the trade to which I belong (from the most ancient of academicians to the most youthful of libelists) derives from a childhood home in which I grew used to mistreating and misusing almost all the seminal texts from the history of culture.” Javier Marias on the dangers of growing up with too many books.