Russian literature. The very phrase implies indisputable greatness. So enshrined are the works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov in the iconostasis of world literature that non-Russian audiences often forget that there is a Russian literature devoid of samovars, counts, and love letters. And how would they know? More than two decades after the Soviet state ceased to be every Russian writer’s de-facto agent, only about a dozen literary agents represent Russian authors abroad. (via Anna Starobinets - The Morning News)

The Morning News is launching a new series of Russian Literature, with six stories in six months. Get it.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of fed up with realism. After all, there’s enough reality already; why make more of it? Why not leave realism for the memoirs of drug addicts, the histories of salt, the biographies of porn stars? Why must we continue to read about the travails of divorced people or mildly depressed Canadians when we could be contemplating the shopping habits of zombies, or the difficulties that ensue when living and dead people marry each other? We should be demanding more stories about faery handbags and pyjamas inscribed with the diaries of strange women. We should not rest until someone writes about a television show that features the Free People’s World-Tree Library, with its elaborate waterfalls and Forbidden Books and Pirate-Magicians. We should be pining for a house haunted by rabbits.” - Kelly Link

Planning for Love

"When I was 17, I fell in love for the first time. His name was Dylan. I had first noticed him when he performed the Elvis Costello song ‘Alison’ in the Beaver Country Day School Talent Show. His voice was thin and cracked in places during the song, but something about him up on stage playing the guitar with his eyes shut and his head thrown back got to me in a way nothing ever had before. He rocked along as he played, spastically dancing in a mustard-colored suit that he wore with a skinny black tie. He looked goofy and exposed and I felt like he was singing to me. I approached him afterward and told him I thought he should have won instead of the girl who twirled batons to the Star Wars theme. In a few days, we were going out. And a few months later, I was ready to have sex for the first time.

I drove to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near my home in Belmont. In the waiting room there were a few middle-aged women and some young couples who were holding hands, some married and some not. I took a chair next to a hugely pregnant, crying girl who was a few years younger than me. Her mother sat with her, frowning sternly and ignoring the girl’s whimpering. I wondered what my mother would do if she knew I was here.

My mother wasn’t like other mothers. She didn’t bake cookies or go to PTA meetings; she wore a mink coat and always had a lit Dunhill plugged into her cigarette holder. She had slept with too many men, and some women, and she didn’t like dogs or children. The last time I had confided in her about romance, I’d told her I thought the boy who mowed our lawn was cute. She’d delivered a lecture on ‘hot-blooded Latin types’ and the next week seduced the lawn boy in our backyard pup tent. He never came back.

Despite my mother’s long history of promiscuity, I had very little actual knowledge of what happened between men and women, and I was grateful to have access to someone who could help me. When I heard my name called, I followed the nurse down the hallway to a small examination room.

I sat on the padded table in a paper dress waiting for the doctor to come in. I had left my socks on because I was cold. I stared at the brightly colored oven mitts with a kitty-cat pattern on them that covered the stirrups at the opposite end of the table. I wondered if the oven mitts were meant to keep the stirrups warm or to help catch a flying baby. On one wall was a large medical drawing of the female reproductive system with everything labeled in large red letters, as if issuing a warning: Danger, Uterus Ahead! On the other wall was a travel poster advertising the Swiss Alps. I pondered the possible connection between the vagina and all that snow and ice. Would losing my virginity be exciting like being transported to the top of the highest mountain, or would I be frigid, feel nothing, and wish I’d stayed home? There were no magazines to look at in the room, so I bit my fingernails while I worried and waited.”

Read the rest of Wendy Lawless’s original essay on the Powell’s Blog.

“That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack. That concentrating on anything is very hard work.”


- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

"A young woman came up to me at Emerald City Comicon and told me she’s in the navy and that Captain Marvel inspired her to apply for flight school.

That was such an extraordinary moment for me. I don’t know what to do with it. My throat gets tight just thinking about it.”

Read our Q&A with Kelly Sue DeConnick, who writes the Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel, and Ghost comic books: http://powells.us/10WaQaX