Before she published My Brilliant Friend
, the first volume of her much-celebrated Neapolitan series, in 2011, Elena Ferrante was known for three short, violent novels about women on the outer boundary of sanity. Although their stories are unrelated, the books form a thematic trilogy. Each is narrated by a woman who embodies a different aspect of female experience—in Troubling Love
, a daughter; in Days of Abandonment
, a wife; in The Lost Daughter
, a mother—and each is concerned with how these
Atticus Lish is
seeking a state of flow—what the "positive psychologist" Mihlay Csikszentmihalyi calls the opposite of psychic entropy: negentropy
. It can only be achieved while in pursuit of a task for the sake of the task. The good doctor also claims it is the secret to happiness.
Atticus Lish, surely right now, is sitting in his chair in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, humming in his routine: two thousand words per day on the next book. He has a system: spit it out, systematically revise, sweep it
IN THE WORK
of the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, the shortest distances are often also the greatest: The space between self and other can be maddeningly difficult to traverse. Full of magical transformations, ritual sacrifices, and turbulent prophetic dreams, Cortázar’s writing abounds with troubled pairings, unlikely and uneasy doppelgängers who come apart even as—especially as—they converge. In one of his stories, “The Distances,” a wealthy Argentine woman dreams repeatedly of
A key figure in the New American Cinema of the 1960s, Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928-1992) made ambitious films starting in the late ’40s, complex psychodramas and romantic meditations that used symbolic color and rapid montage. In 1966, he began to construct short portrait films in-camera, running a single roll of film stock back and forth so that groups of frames were exposed or re-exposed at predetermined points. But he became increasingly disgusted with the conditions and economies of screening
St. Petersburg used to be a familiar place for Russians and non-Russians alike. It is so recognizable—even clichéd—as a setting for the high drama and intrigue of nineteenth-century Russian literary classics that one recent Russian novel features a first-person shooter videogame called Dostoevsky’s Petersburg.
As Petrograd, we know it as the cradle of the Revolution, the backdrop for Eisenstein; as Leningrad, the tale of its suffering during the murderous Siege of Leningrad by Nazi and Finnish