“He is now even upon the point of marrying—shall I proceed!—of marrying his Sister! I fly to prevent incest!” Dan Piepenbring writes about reading The Power of Sympathy, America’s first novel, for The Paris Review.
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher’s run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I’ve had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I’m co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)
Read Russia 2012 aims to celebrate contemporary Russian literature and book culture, and they’ve scheduled a bunch of events in the NYC area to coincide with next week’s BEA. You should certainly check them out, as well as NYRB Classics’ ongoing coverage of their own Russian literature highlights. (You can get even more information over here, too.)
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
Buying a hawk isn’t the most common grief-coping mechanism, but it worked for Helen Macdonald, who purchased a predatory bird not long after her father passed away. Her new book, H is for Hawk, deals with the experience, in addition to being a falconry manual of sorts. At The Globe and Mail, an interview with the author.