At the Paris Review, Valerie Stivers takes on a literary baking challenge: crafting pies inspired by the works of Italo Calvino, using ingredients culled from his books and family history. “I must have been high on his genius, creativity, and playfulness when I attempted to climb into the trees myself,” she writes, “and invent a series of Calvino-inspired pies, interlocking like the chapters of If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and utilizing tree fruits and tree nuts from The Baron in the Trees. My plan also drew on a biographical note of Calvino’s: his parents were botanists, and his father pioneered the cultivation of exotic tree fruits in Italy, which made me feel that any tree fruit or nut was fair game. These high-concept pies would use new-to-me techniques such as chiffon, Italian meringue, chilled custard filling, blind-baked crusts, and pudding layers.”
“It just goes to show you: it’s not just luck you need to have a successful literary career. It’s luck, piled on luck, piled on luck again, and around the corner, you need another sprinkling of it” says Michelle Dean, after investigating Stephen King’s rise in response partly to Dwight Allen’s “Snob Notes” on the author. Colin Dickey and Sarah Langan have both previously weighed on on Allen’s essay and King’s particular strengths.