RSS Curiosities

View All
  • “I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air…  But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • This week in book-related infographics, round 2: Lapham’s Quarterly takes a look at the day jobs of famous authors, among them T.S. Eliot, who was responsible for processing reports on German debt, and Charlotte Bronte, who had laundry fees deducted from her pay. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s essay on “Working the Double Shift” and “all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel.”


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Recommended listening: David Naimon interviews Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star, about “anorexia and astronomy, stars and bodies.” Pair with Alex Norcia‘s Millions review of Gerard’s novel here.


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “How is it possible that a smallish army of discerning readers agree that Jim Harrison is one of the few truly great living American writers, yet he has not gotten the wider audience—or the widespread praise—he so plainly deserves?” Our own Bill Morris has some theories.


    1    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “It’s the marriage of one kind of darkness to another… the black storm cloud of Neel’s pen is well suited to Dostoyevsky’s questions of God, reason, and doubt.” On Alice Neel‘s illustrations for The Brothers Karamazov, from The Paris Review.  Pair with our own Kevin Hartnett’s much lighter take on the novel, “Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One.”


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • This week in book-related infographics: “A Plotting of Fiction Genres” from Electric Lit.


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine.  Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • “Be patient – even with chaos.” Advice for the upcoming writer from Lydia Davis.


    0    
    ~Kaulie Lewis
  • Over the past fifteen years, Mohsin Hamid has moved from New York, to London, and to Lahore, Pakistan, with stints in Italy and Greece. His new book, which came out yesterday, is a series of essays about his odyssey across the world, chronicling his observations and experiences that led him to move. At Bookforum, a review by Jake Lamar.


    0    
    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Recommended Reading: Willy Blackmore talking to Matthew J.X. Malady about the time he tried to be a literary agent.


    0    
    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Edith Pearlman has been writing stories for a long time, but it’s only recently that she’s received widespread attention for them, as evidenced by this New Yorker piece on the author by James Wood. In it, Wood writes about the ways in which Pearlman is “a fabulist in realist’s clothing,” among other things. Pair with: Josh Cook on Pearlman’s book Honeydew.


    0    
    ~Thomas Beckwith
  • Chekhov never published an autobiography, but he did once write a letter in which, in Chekhovian fashion, he summed up his life in a paragraph. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the Constance Garnett translation of this letter in full. You could also check out Brendan Mathews on reading Chekhov for self-improvement.


    0    
    ~Thomas Beckwith