The War and Peace Newbies Tag

July is officially go time for the War and Peace Readlong at Reading in Bed, but Laura has a few questions in advance before we all abandon our friends and families for 12 weeks.

It’s the War and Peace Newbies tag, in reference to the fact that everyone doing Laura’s readalong will be a W&P virgin.

Hot, right?

Here we go.


Have your read (or attempted to read) War and Peace?

Not even a little bit. I’m not a big classics guy, to be honest. But for whatever reason, I was one of the people who pressed Laura into reading War and Peace for her readalong this year (she does one every summer).

Despite the fact that I essentially haven’t read any of it, Russian literature is fascinating to me. The grandiosity is nothing if not commendable, and these guys–Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov–tackled some pretty big themes. War, death, existence, God, family, love, hate, etc.

In short, these guys didn’t fuck around.

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A Novel for the Judd Apatow Generation

It’s something of a paradox, but the thing that first intrigued me about Domestic Violets—its cover—is the one thing I’d change after reading it. I mean, look at that thing: it’s bright, it’s simple, it has commercial fiction written all over it. It suggests a lighthearted rom-com full of domestic friction. When I read it I was looking for something light, the literary equivalent of a Paul Rudd movie. Which is what Harper Collins wanted me to think I was getting.

However, like the best romantic comedies, Matthew Norman’s debut novel has a lot going on under the surface, so much that its cover actually does it a disservice. This is more than just a fluffy piece of entertainment. Domestic Violets is smart and insightful, and paints a wonderfully muddy picture of love and passion in the 21st century.

This is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.

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The Burden of Childhood Friendships

For the past fifteen years I’ve been saddled with a disturbingly incessant childhood friendship. Despite my best (or, rather, worst) efforts, I cannot seem to shake it. We’re now in our thirties, live drastically different lives, and have not a single unifying hobby. Yet, this person persists. She will not let things go. Whether I like it or not, I am bound to her forever.

Oh, I should mention I cannot stand this person.

For reasons that escape me, she is blissfully unaware of my utter indifference towards her. I am checked out of every conversation. I make no effort to see her. Her husband is one of the most annoying people I have ever met and have said this to her face. Still, she remains.

As when faced with an undying lich, my only means of survival is avoidance. The game, then, is to stay away as long as possible. In the end, I always lose.

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