Margaret Wise Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon has influenced generations of bedtime readers, as seen recently in Eric Betts’s take on the book’s world-building. For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Brian Goedde takes a closer look at the characters within the book, particularly the bunny at the center of the tale. “Children don’t buy their own books, after all,” Goedde writes. “We parents, grandparents, nannies, family friends, babysitters, quiet-old-lady caregivers of every kind continue to read this book because we need to know: while we want our little bunnies to separate-individuate themselves, once they do, what becomes of us?”
“The last line of Saul Bellow’s ‘A Single Dish’ is nothing like poetry. I can’t tell you what any single one of those words means. Imagine you’re a lexicographer and you have to define the word that, or how. And on top of this, there’s none of Bellow’s typical play with rhythm and language—it’s almost a non-sentence. And yet, when I get to it in the story, I weep.” Ethan Canin at The Atlantic on how Saul Bellow packs so much emotion into a single sentence. Here are a couple Bellow-related Millions links for your perusing pleasure.
New this week: The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon; A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson; The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato; The Love Object by Edna O’Brien; The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz; Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes; Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed; Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley; and Scavenger Loop by David Baker. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 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)