Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
The second issue of Little Brother Magazine (edited by Millions emerita and Toronto resident Emily Keeler) features excellent fiction about scandal-plagued mayor Rob Ford. At The Atlantic Cities, Mark Byrne talks with Emily, who describes herself as “addicted” to the drama surrounding the mayor.
What does Jonathan Franzen think of the cover for Freedom? What about Charlotte Strick, the book’s designer? Or the photographers that took photos of those trees, of that blue warbler? Talking Covers has collected their thoughts, and plays host to other cover-related conversations besides. Check out this one The Flame Alphabet.
“Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.” Here is Mary Gaitskill on Anna Karenina for The Atlantic’s By Heart series, in which writers reflect on some of their favorite passages in all of literature. We’ve brought you a bit on By Heart here, here, and here.
Amazon has just dropped the price on the Kindle yet again, but it comes with a big caveat. The Kindle can now be had for $114 if you select a version of the device that peppers you with special offers (Examples: $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card; $6 for 6 Audible Books; etc). Before the purists out there go too crazy, it may be some consolation that these offers appear only on the home screen and screensaver; they don’t interrupt reading.