Whether or not you’re an avid collector of NYRB Classics like Stoner, you’ll enjoy this profile of series publisher Edwin Frank, conducted by Millions contributor and Oyster Editorial Director Kevin Nguyen. In the profile, Frank delves into the mindset that guides his choices, tying the rise of the American publishing series to the passage of the GI bill. Sample quote: “Someone seeing a book he or she always loved next to a book he or she had never heard about would say, ‘Wait that’s the book I always loved and it’s back in print, maybe I should buy this one too.’”
“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.
Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant star in an eight-hour dramatization of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Completed in 1960, and centered around the bloody battle of Stalingrad, the novel was deemed so dangerous by the KGB that the book itself was arrested. BBC’s excited, and all the episodes are available to download.
“I am not at all sure—convinced, certain, persuaded—that creative-writing courses are a good idea unless they prevent people from writing sentences like this one, where adjectives—useful, helpful, intensely descriptive words—are stacked upon one another as Pelion used to be piled upon Ossa.” Alexander McCall Smith on the dangers of overwriting.
East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.
The saying goes that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” but at Beyond the Margins Robin Black makes the opposite argument. “I want you to love adverbs,” she begins, but “more than that, I want you to believe, as I do, that adverbs are the part of speech that best captures the human condition.”
“It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a great artist creative” but The Atlantic makes a strong attempt and cites the story behind Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein as an example of what can happen “when experience, openness, and the right neurology come together.”