“At first blush, bringing an eight-year-old to one of William Shakespeare’s quirkier plays in an effort to help her see herself, an Asian American girl, in popular culture did seem a rather odd decision.” Nicole Chung for Hazlitt on The Winter’s Tale, representation, and parenting in the age of Trump. And wouldn’t you know it, we have a piece specifically about that very play – “three/fifths wintry tragedy, two/fifths vernal comedy, and wholly a masterwork” – right here.
Has the drudgery of submitting poems, stories, and manuscripts ever gotten you down? Marlon James, author of the Booker Prize winner A Brief History of Seven Killings, had his first novel rejected by nearly eighty publishing houses. Here’s a take on self-publishing from The Millions if all of this has got you down.
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Check out a new essay from Zadie Smith in NYRB on the uncanny, Schopenhauer, and Anomalisa. “That we believe ourselves to be separate from each other, and separate from the apparent objects of our desire, was, for Schopenhauer, the root of our suffering.” For more on Smith, read our review of NW.
Sam Sacks takes a look at the “two major acts” in the life of Vasily Grossman, the Jewish-Russian author perhaps best known for his monumental account of the Stalingrad siege, Life and Fate. (Bonus: Life and Fate was picked by Stephen Dodson as his Year in Reading pick back in 2011.)
"Driving hundreds of miles at a time... uncorked the forgotten joys of my undergraduate years—chief among them the fantasy that simply buying a book guarantees that it will get read." Ted Trautman on going on a book-buying binge during a cross-country road-trip.