Jenn Shapland had the pleasure of cataloguing the archives of Carson McCullers, Gertrude Stein, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Their possessions left her with a few lingering questions. Pair with Shapland’s piece on cataloguing David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he'd never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers'. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Happy first birthday to Emily Books! The Observer ran a little recap of the book club-slash-store's lascivious first anniversary party, where Kate Zambreno and Tamara Faith Berger both read from their recent novels. Here's the Million's interview with Zambreno, and here's a #LitBeat from one of Berger's previous readings from her steamy wonder of a novel, Maidenhead.
“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. Don’t let this dissuade you from revising again and again, which can really improve a piece of writing.” Albert Camus, creative writing instructor.