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.
Over-confident people enter into our lives in many forms: military planners, Wall Street investors, that chick shouting *NSYNC into the mic at the back of the bar. Daniel Kahneman's new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, deals with this phenomenon of human nature. Read an excerpt here.
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.
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)