The Toast is nearing the end of its long, hilarious run. Hurry up and check out the new pieces while you still can — like this helpful guide as to whether or not you are in a Regency-era novel written after the end of the Regency, full of dead giveaways like: “There is lace at your throat and wrists and disdain in your eyes and heart.”
More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.
“Russia's most celebrated writers - including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn and Mandelstam - are often depicted as solitary geniuses. But many of their works were the fruits of creative partnerships with their wives. Far from being passive typists, they served as editors, researchers, translators, publishers and more.”
"I will tell them one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest story of all — the story of good and evil, of strength and weakness, of love and hate, of beauty and ugliness. I shall try to demonstrate to them how these doubles are inseparable — how neither can exist without the other and how out of their groupings creativeness is born." John Steinbeck, American literary titan and author of The Grapes of Wrath, certainly knew a thing or two about creativity.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way "the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us." Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against "relatability," but it's something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Sometimes the most important issues are the most difficult to discuss. While a conversation about diversity in literature has started, The New Republic asks us why socioeconomic status is often left out of the conversation. Our essay on the rise and fall of the creative class pairs nicely.
“Too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual’s desires, it’s a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly.” The Guardian reviews Year in Reading Alumnus Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus. Compare and contrast with our review of the novel.