“In 1865, Karl Marx confessed that he considered his chief characteristic ‘singleness of purpose,’ and that his favorite occupation was ‘bookworming.’ Five years later, Oscar Wilde wrote in an album called ‘Mental Photographs, an Album for Confessions of Tastes, Habits, and Convictions’ that his distinguishing feature was ‘inordinate self-esteem.'” Over at The New Yorker, take a look at how Marcel Proust’s questionnaires inspired a generation of question-by-by-question introspection.
If you don’t have a New Yorker subscription and can’t read Dana Goodyear’s wonderful profile of Lydia Davis, then you can at the very least check out the Can’t and Won’t author’s interview with Quarterly Conversation. Or, of course, you could just go straight to the source and mainline some of her short fiction directly.
The University of Texas at Austin has recently acquired Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive. The collection reveals early drafts, a pulp Western novel that Ishiguro thought had been lost, and his early attempts at songwriting. “For many years,” he said, “I’ve been in the habit of keeping a large cardboard box under my desk into which I throw, more or less indiscriminately, all papers produced during my writing that I don’t want to file neatly and take into the next stage of composition: earlier drafts of chapters, rejected pages, scraps of paper with scribbled thoughts, repeated attempts at the same paragraph, etc.”
Out this week: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti; Compass by Mathias Enard; The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck; Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews; and the Later Essays of Susan Sontag. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“When you go to Narnia, your worries come with you. Narnia just becomes the place where you work them out and try to resolve them.” Lev Grossman writes for The Atlantic about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and why fantasy isn’t escapism. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s review of Grossman’s latest novel, The Magician’s Land.