Mavis Gallant, who passed away a year ago this February, published a total of a hundred and sixteen short stories in The New Yorker, which puts her on par with short story factories like John Cheever and John Updike. Yet by the time she died, she was penniless and alone, a fact which worried the few people in Paris who knew her well. In The Walrus, David MacFarlane examines what her writing meant to him. Pair with: Laurel Berger on her own fascination with the author.
If his new novel Against the Country is any indication, Ben Metcalf gets his best inspiration from the worst of rural America. In the book, which features a panoply of awful crimes and obscenities, Metcalf rides roughshod over the notion of the rural idyll. In Bookforum, onetime Millions staffer Emily Colette Wilkinson reviews the novel, calling it “a gut-busting knee slapper” in spite of its glut of macabre scenes.
“I suspect ‘chess rage’ and ‘road rage’ are neighboring neural impulses.” Tom Russell at Guernica Magazine has written a fascinating essay on a summer spent playing chess in Bryant Park and the unexpected artistic beauty of the game. Here’s a cursorily-related review of The Chess Machine, a book which features an unbeatable chess-playing automaton controlled by a dwarf.
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of those rare few classic novels that translates well to the big screen. To some extent, this was intentional — Nabokov often wrote fiction with an eye to selling film rights. John Colapinto writes about the author’s relationship with the cinema over at Page-Turner. You could also read our own Lydia Kiesling’s Modern Library Revue of Lolita.
Isotropic Films has begun filming a “fresh, modern horror [film] version” of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. At The New York Review of Books, Mark Harman offers a new translation of the late author’s “A Message From the Emperor,” which Harman calls “hauntingly oblique.” Further away still, Elif Batuman recognizes some Kafkaesque street signage in Turkey.