“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.
Some corners of the literary world were confused last week when news hit about the passing of Beatles producer George Martin, forcing Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to make this statement: “While it is strangely moving to realize that so many people around the world care so deeply about my life and death, I have to go with Mark Twain and insist that the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. It was Sir George Martin, of Beatles fame, who has passed away. Not me.”
In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)
The New Yorker has launched an online-only series dedicated to the novella, featuring longer works of fiction the magazine isn’t able to fit into print. “The novella is not, usually, an expanded story. Rather, it is a contracted novel, in which the omissions cover much ground. It is more ambitious than a story, denser and more gemlike than a novel.” Callan Wink’s In Hindsight launches the series, with an interview with the author.
Lots of publications — The Millions included — have tackled the differences between reading e-books and physical books. It’s hard to know just what these differences mean for the future of literature. In the Chicago Tribune, John Warner proposes a novel argument (registration required) for why physical books will live on.