“Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.” Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.
Get your Bloomsday fix with our James Joyce quiz. Or you can celebrate with Emily M. Keeler, The Atlantic, a BBC dramatization, and Colm Tóibín. You can also read an excerpt from Ulysses over at Berfrois. Plus there’s a ‘Ulysses Seen‘ smartphone app (which is viewable online).
Believing that high quality TV dramas have supplanted silver screen blockbusters, and now rival novels as “the best way of widely communicating ideas and stories,” Salman Rushdie is set to pen a science fiction series for Showtime. The show will be called “The Next People.” Yet while he’s cited “The Wire” as a source of inspiration, the novelist also backhandedly referred to it as “just a police series.” (A stance he defended on Twitter.) Controversial? Perhaps. But still nothing compared to him calling “Game of Thrones” “very addictive garbage.” Later on, when asked by Vulture to list some of his favorite TV shows, Rushdie curiously counted “Entourage” among them.
Read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s acceptance speech for the Welt Literaturpreis, an annual prize awarded by the German newspaper Die Welt, at The New Yorker. He writes, “The difference between engaging with a real neighbor and one in a novel is that the former occurs in the social sphere, within the boundaries of its rules and practical constraints, whereas the latter occurs outside of it, in the reader’s own most private, intimate sphere, where the rules that govern our social interaction do not apply and its practical constraints do not exist.” You could also check out Knausgaard’s book excerpt at The Millions.
It’s notoriously difficult to figure out how to make a living as a freelance writer. The process forces the writer to learn the finer points of negotiation. At the Ploughshares blog, Steph Auteri writes about the “abstract mathematics” of her freelance career, presenting a list of everything she considers before taking on an assignment. Pair with: our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching the business of creative writing.
“It’s rough out there for artists and writers right now, I know. There are days when you just want to throw in the towel, say fuck it, fake your own death, give insurance fraud a go, and live out of a Winnebago somewhere in remote Ontario. That’s a good plan—that’s a really good plan—but remember, you’ve got options.” The Paris Review considers the life of artist Reuben Kadish, who bought a disused dairy farm, made it a viable business in a decade’s time, and changed his medium from painting to sculpture in the process.
For those of us who refuse to trade in the typewriter, however, there’s always our popular piece on how to write a novel.
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.