“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”
“But reading Finnegans Wake is more than a matter of collecting one’s favorite quotations – even if there is a huge pleasure in that, especially if you admire truly terrible jokes.” Michael Wood writes an essay on James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, and the origins of clever wordplay for the London Review of Books.
Here is a helpful User’s Guide to John Irving from the good people over at Hazlitt–it should be all you need in order to tackle Irving’s newest novel, Avenue of Mysteries. This slightly disheartened take on what it’s like to re-read Irving is worth a look.
“When author Kamila Shamsie challenged the book industry to publish only women in 2018 to help address a gender imbalance in literature, just one publisher took up the challenge.” And Other Stories, an English publisher who publish translations and English language books, has decided to only publish women writers in 2018, according to the BBC. Pair with: an essay by our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee about the visibility and privacy of women writers.
In part because I loved Sam Anderson’s riff on Barthes in this weekend’s NYT Magazine so much, I was thrilled to see Maud Newton tweet this link this 2010 article on Barthes’s handwriting, featuring a slideshow of note cards Barthes used to compose his Mourning Diary.