Those of you with more than a passing familiarity with the Brothers Grimm will know that classic fairy tales were often dark and macabre. They’re considerably more frightening than the sanitized versions we read to our children today. At Salon, Maria Tatar talks to Laura Miller about her translation of The Turnip Princess, a new collection of previously undiscovered fairy tales. Sample quote: “There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms.” You could also read Kirsty Logan on the trouble with fairy tales.
With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.
The Smithsonian has a good reminder about the links between design and history, about how time can seemingly erode the politics behind an aesthetic movement, about the relationships between images and texts, about how Italian futurism may still look cool but came from a group of sexist and at least partially fascist men.
The annual Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference wrapped up earlier this week, but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can relive the magic: Transcripts and videos of notable speeches are available on the conference’s website, including the concluding talk on the future of the novel by China Mieville.
Over at the Story Prize blog, Year in Reading alumnus Colum McCann shares a letter of advice to writers starting their career. As he puts it, “A story begins long before its first word. It ends long after its last… [it] reveal[s] a truth that isn’t yet there.”
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
New in fiction this week: Benediction by Kent Haruf and Ten White Geese by past IMPAC winner Gerbrand Bakker. In non-fiction: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss’s food industry exposé excerpted in the recent Times Magazine. From the other side of the food spectrum is Issue 6 of Lucky Peach. And it’s a big day for baseball fans: the 2013 Baseball Prospectus is here.