Sam Jordison asks us how Heller’s Catch-22 became a bestseller. “Yossarian’s kept a lasting grip on our collective psyche; he’s the ultimate moral rebel. To object to him would be to put yourself on the side of stuffed shirts, those who kill for profit and in the name of absurd patriotism.”
After earning herself a “test run” writer’s residency aboard an Amtrak train, Jessica Gross reflects on the virtues and benefits of writing by railcar. Meanwhile, Alexander Chee announces he’ll be writing on the rails from New York City to Portland this Spring. You can read some more information about the program over here.
Russian movie producer Svetlana Migunova-Dali is working with U.S. producer Grace Loh, who produced Hot Tub Time Machine, to adapt Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita for the big screen. They say they’re working with a feature film budget of up to $100 million, and they want A-list actors to fill out the cast.
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: “What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day – with a toothache that she can’t afford to fix . . . – but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?” . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: “At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language.” . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: “I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist.”