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For Literary Novelists the Past Is Pressing

For the past two decades, the novels celebrated for defining our time have almost always been books set within our time, from Jonathan Franzen’s voluminous social comedies to Sally Rooney’s smartly self-knowing novels and the seam of contemporary autofiction that has run between them. Historical fiction, by contrast, has not been in fashion. Or, rather, it has been seen as its own fusty fashion, relentlessly uncontemporary and easy to caricature, filled with mothballed characters who wear costumes rather than clothes, use words like “Prithee!” while having modern-day thoughts, and occasionally encounter villains immediately recognizable by their yellow teeth or suspicious smell. Read more

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Opening a Small-Town Bookstore During the Pandemic Was the Craziest Thing We Ever Did

It’s every book lover’s fantasy. Yet nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of starting any business, even under normal conditions. Certainly, few dreamers think to prepare for the nightmare of a global pandemic that shutters most brick-and-mortar retail, disrupts supply chains, and kills hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens. Read more