Bonnie Nadzam asks us what should fiction do? “An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice.”
For the most part, Tolstoy is known as a realist, despite his work’s occasional dips into fancy. Yet the plotlines of his great novels featured long and important dream sequences. In The New York Review of Books, Janet Malcolm argued that Tolstoy was a master of dreams, using Anna Karenina as proof.
On the occasion of Scribner's publication of the "Restored Edition" of A Moveable Feast, Gioia Diliberto, biographer of Ernest Hemingway's wife Hadley, writes of her discovery of the Hadley Hemingway tapes.Sarah Schmelling's McSweeney's piece "Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition)" has spawned a book Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook, the canon retold in social networking parlance.Speaking of the canon, The Second Pass plays devil's advocate and tells us which of history's most praised books are best avoided. (We will pass over in silence the inclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.)Mark Athitakis writes about the National Book Award in 1980, "an interesting time for the prize." The previous year, publishers pulled out of the awards, contending according to an NYT article, "the awards favored little-read books." (This criticism resurfaced in 2004.) After 1980, the festivities ballooned to eight fiction categories before eventually being scaled back in subsequent years. (via Maud)In Slate, Nathaniel Rich wonders why "the most peaceful people on earth [Scandinavians] write the greatest homicide thrillers."The "Significant Objects project," in which worthless trinkets are sold on eBay along with original fiction written about said worthless trinkets, has launched. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld, Lydia Millet, Matthew Sharpe, Sam Lipsyte, and a few dozen others. The eBay auctions can be found here.
● ● ●
The August issue of Open Letters is available. Nestled amidst the literary fare are early Oscar nominations from Sarah Hudson and a piece on the video game The Sims by Phillip A. Lobo.Electric Literature teamed up with animator Jonathan Ashley and musician Nick DeWitt to produce an animated trailer for Jim Shepard's "Your Fate Hurtles Down at You," a story which appeared in the literary magazine's first issue.BOMB Magazine has a conversation between poker buddies Nam Le and Charles D'Ambrosio.Years ago, we wrote about La Porte, Indiana, a nifty book with a connection to Found Magazine chronicling a cache of found photographs from a small town. Now the book is being made into a documentary.Nicholson Baker has written the funniest piece yet about the Kindle. Ed initially takes umbrage (and gets comments from Baker and recants somewhat). YPTR weighs in as well.Spoiler Alert: neojapansme, a provider (along with our own Ben Dooley) of quite a bit of insight into Murakami's new (and untranslated) novel 1Q84 has published a review of the book.Millions Fans: The Millions Facebook group now has over 400 members. We'll be asking group members to help us with some upcoming special features, so join up (if you're into that sort of thing.)Shatner... Palin... Twitter... bongos... need we say more?
Instead of capitalizing on his newfound momentum by hitting the campaign trail hard, Herman Cain this week opted to spend most of his time promoting his book, This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, which just arrived in retail stores this week.
Emily Harnett writes about Elena Ferrante’s bad book covers and how it embraces “women’s fiction” as a genre. As she puts it, “In a literary marketplace where the very image of a woman is seen as antithetical to literature, Ferrante’s covers take an important stand.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.