“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.
Out this week: Marlena by Julie Buntin; American War by Omar El Akkad; What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah; Kingdom of the Young by Edie Meidav; No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts; and Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Another day, another LARB piece about reading Russian fiction in conjunction with the Winter Olympics. (One particularly interesting earlier installment is over here.) Meanwhile, I offer a compendium of passages from the Russian masters, and use my favorite #SochiFails to illustrate them.
Tolstoy has a new book out. No, not that Tolstoy -- Sofiya Tolstoy, wife of Leo Nikolayevich. Her long-lost novella, which languished for years in the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, has finally been published, as part of an expanded edition of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata. At Slate, Ron Rosenbaum praises her story, calling it “graceful, emotionally intuitive and heartbreaking.” Related: 8 experts on whether Leo Tolstoy is better than Dostoevsky.
"[T]he term was first recorded in 2012, but its use increased significantly during the federal election this year, especially with the popularity of several websites set up to help voters find polling stations with sausage sizzles." Australia's word of the year is "democracy sausage," reports The Canberra Times. Other national choices, according to Mental Floss: postfaktisch, or "post-truth" in Germany, and the 52-letter-long Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung, or “postponement of the repeat runoff of the presidential election” in Austria.