Depending on your perspective, this is either the best or the worst pairing of speaker to content there is: Benedict Cumberbatch reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis for the BBC. As always with Cumberbatch, the reading is a nice complement to our own Elizabeth Minkel on Sherlock.
“All poems of public grief are private poems first,” writes Mark Doty in his evaluation of Wisława Szymborska’s poem, “Photograph from September 11th.” Indeed, what Doty learned “over the course of those dozen years, was that the words one hammers out in private, in order to attempt some kind of sense, may end up being used by people in ways you could have never anticipated.”
Jeff Vandermeer writes for the Los Angeles Times about autobiographical influence in fantasy and sci-fi and argues that “there’s little or no difference in process or results compared to “normal” fiction, except that sometimes you end up with a dragon in your story and sometimes you don’t.” Pair with Alex Trivilino‘s account of “binge-reading” Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.
“We are here to take creative risks and to do the sort of work that commercial broadcasters might be more reluctant to do. But we also have a real responsibility and a requirement to reflect a range of British communities.” Bestill our hearts, the BBC is adapting Vikram Seth‘s A Suitable Boy as its first period drama with a non-white cast, reports The Telegraph. Our own Lydia Kiesling described Seth’s epic as “a spectacularly romantic novel, weddings all over,” but noted sadly that “it portends falling in love with the man you can marry, in lieu of the one that you can’t.”
“Book reviews are another matter, because a bad review has the potential to be far more adversarial: one writer spending years on a book, one reviewer spending days reading it, and a lasting relationship being created between the two in print. Or, perhaps, a history between the two that lends the review a particular piquancy.” An exegesis of the good bad review.
Probably the biggest literary debut the week is Arthur Phillips’ The Tragedy of Arthur, a faux memoir about the surfacing of a long-lost Shakespeare play. Also out this week is the first book from former Soft Skull head Richard Nash’s new venture Red Lemonade: Lynne Tillman’s Someday This Will Be Funny. And, finally, now out in paperback is Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. (Our two reviews)
When The Beatles made Rubber Soul, the band probably didn’t realize it would inspire some of the greatest contemporary fiction. First, Haruki Murakami named his novel Norwegian Wood. Now, “Drive My Car” inspired his new short story. Bungeishunju published the story today, but English readers are still waiting on the translation. Until then, we can always listen to the album. Pair with: Our essay on the soundtracks behind books.