What do you do if you’re Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you’re Tolstoy, you’ll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite,” usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: “Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice).” And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions‘s perennially popular “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater.”
How does a writer keep their work fresh? What’s the goal of a successful artist? What is it like to adapt someone else’s writing for the screen? The Atlantic interviews Nick Hornby about his latest book, Funny Girl, and these are some of the questions that come up. Pair with this Millions review of Hornby’s A Long Way Down.
Tranquility by Attila Bartis is named winner of the inaugural Best Translated Book Award. Scott rounds up some reviews and background on the book.Video: Tom Perrotta on the state of American literary culture.”Art History books are full of errors.” This one is about La Raie Vert [the Green Stripe] from 1905 by Henri Matisse.Perfect for the cubicle: Five Chapters serialized John Cheever’s short story, “Of Love: A Testimony,” in bite-sized portions.Mark Sarvas (re)launches the Three-Minute-Interview series, starting with Plimpton Prize winner Jesse Ball. We reviewed Ball’s debut Samedi the Deafness last year. Ball’s new book is The Way Through Doors.Meanwhile, Sheila Heti chats up Mary Gaitskill.Yearbook photos of politicians: Mike Huckabee, How YOU doin’?Norman Mailer and William Styron conduct an epistolary friendship.The Nation revisits the ever-popular subject of Kafka and his critics.Wyatt Mason and friends parse Joseph O’Neill to within an inch of his life.Reif Larsen is this year’s Million Dollar Baby.And, from the Department of Dead Horses and Guys Kicked While Down, we bring you this…
This week, Granta redesigned its website, which now boasts a spiffy black-and-white aesthetic. If you’re looking for an excuse to check it out, you could do worse than reading Year in Reading alum Hari Kunzru’s “Drone,” a story which appears in their India issue. (They’re also highlighting great pieces from their archives, among them the story “Night” by Alice Munro.)