Free e-book bibliophiles rejoice, you now have yet another place to download public domain e-books. The Digital Reader reports on Standard Ebooks, a volunteer-based project to “produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks.” Pair with our post from a decade back about Project Gutenberg’s pubbing of “2 B R 0 2 B,” a “lost” story by Kurt Vonnegut.
The best longread you’re likely to find this afternoon: Martin Amis talks to David Wallace-Wells about his latest novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, America’s decline, politics, porn, post-modernism and more. Amis even dodges another attempt to bring up that book he wrote about videogames that nobody will let him live down.
Name a famous person, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with. If you answered “Henry Miller,” you can watch Dinner With Henry, a rare, 30-minute documentary about Henry Miller, that is exactly what its title implies: footage of Miller having dinner. (via @maudnewton)
Out this week: Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn; Another Great Day at Sea by Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer; Funny Once by Antonya Nelson; Black Lake by Johanna Lane; Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell; Decompression by the German writer Juli Zeh; and J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, published now for the first time. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
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)