For the most part, Tolstoy is known as a realist, despite his work’s occasional dips into fancy. Yet the plotlines of his great novels featured long and important dream sequences. In The New York Review of Books, Janet Malcolm argued that Tolstoy was a master of dreams, using Anna Karenina as proof.
Alice Driver writes for Vela about growing up in Arkansas and becoming an artist. As she explains it, “Because I have no debt, I have been able to pursue writing and have had the opportunity to fail time and again.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.
This list of the ten best weather events in fiction history includes, among other things, the mud in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and the fraught weather forecast from Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Let’s talk a little bit more about weather with this review from The Millions.
New this week stateside is buzzed-about Booker shortlister Room by Emma Donoghue. Also out: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, a new collection by "20 Under 40" lister Yiyun Li; Sigrid Nunez's post-apocalyptic Salvation City; and a McSweeney's-published memoir Half a Life by Chang and Eng author Darin Strauss.
“It turned out that the most successful Christmas records tended to have two common qualities: catchy, upbeat melodies and imagined unlikely scenarios for anthropomorphized yuletide characters.” Move over, Frosty! It’s beginning to look a lot like … an unseasonably warm December. Here is a brief history of Christmas songs and of their often-surprising rise from corny kitsch to global sensation.
Franz Kafka liked to drink milk as he wrote. Walt Whitman liked a breakfast of cold meat and oysters. Marcel Proust was an espresso addict. This info graphic from The New York Times raises the question: what do you snack on as you write? You might also want to snack as you read that article, so check out our own Lydia Kiesling's piece from last April.
Who’s ready for a trip to Tokyo? Sadie Stein at The Paris Review breaks the lid on a veritable Shangri-La for book lovers, a quasi-bunkhouse known as Book and Bed. Book and Bed is a bunkhouse-slash-bookstore that doesn’t actually sell books. Instead, they have a number of rather spartan beds built inside row after row of bookshelves. Their noble goal is also a simple one; to offer “an experience shared by everyone at least once: the blissful instant of falling asleep while reading.”