As the wind howls and the snow drifts, winter is the perfect time for those giant, chunky books you've been hoarding all year, right? I'm actually on my second 1,000-plus-page novel since November (The Instructions, and now Gone With The Wind), and also just finished the first book in the 1,500-plus-page Millennium series. So, this month's literary links features some articles related to these oversized books/series. Enjoy!
Adam Levin's The Instructions and the Cult of the Child — With examples like Oskar Shell, from Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Gurion from Levin's fantastic novel, this Millions article takes a look at the child genius trope in American literature. The main thrust of the piece, though, is a review of The Instructions. The verdict: "But The Instructions turns out to be, for better and for worse, something like the Only Kid Genius Novel You’ll Ever Need. That is, it simultaneously makes good on the subgenre’s promise and exposes its limitations." I loved the novel, but whole-heartedly agree with that assessment.
2. Man of Mystery — Beginning with a brief bio and overview of the estate controversy, this New Yorker story attempts to explain why Steig Larsson's (mostly mediocre, according to the NYer) Millennium Trilogy has struck such a cord with readers. It's an interesting read that provides a lot of depth and background to the hugely successful series. The Reading Ape also provided his own take on why the novels are successful — an equally good read.
3. For Tolstoy and Russia, Still No Happy Ending — This NY Times piece explains why Leo Tolstoy doesn't get his deserved due in his native land (hint: It's religion related). Though Russians' blasé attitude toward their greatest writer is a relatively recent phenomenon, the piece says, it's a rather strange one, given what a celebrity Tolstoy was when he was alive.
4. Gone With The Wind: A Literary Pilgrimage — Connie at The Blue Bookcase discusses her recent trip to Margaret Mitchell's house in Atlanta. I loved the fact that she over-paid for a copy of the book in the house that it was written. That's exactly what I would've done too.
5. NBCC Award Finalists and the 2011 Tournament of Book Finalists — The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle award look about what I expected the finalists for the National Book Award to look like, and vice versa. Also, the Sweet 16 for the 2011 Tournament of Books has few surprises. More great analysis by The Reading Ape here. I've only read six of the finalists, and am rooting for Bloodroot or Kapitoil, but they're long-shots. Who's your choice?