The Weird Week in Writing: The strange tale of a subway station in honor of Dostoevsky (plus, a weekend prompt)

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of
writing this week (followed, as always, by a prompt). Happy weekend!

Dostoevsky continues to do what he does best: Impress and, to some, depress. Psychologists fear that Moscow’s new Dostoevskaya subway station, which features cool but heavy murals of scenes from such novels as Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, just might make commuters afraid to ride the subway, violent, or even suicidal.

Michael Cunningham—“Yet another gimmick man, yet another shtick peddler”: Check out the HuffPo’s saucy “15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers” article that’s been causing a stir in the literary-net-o-sphere this week.

The Future of Reading? By now you might have heard that e-books are outselling print books on Amazon. So what is everyone poring over? Curiously, as eBookNewser revealed, the highest spots on Amazon’s Top 100 Free list at one point this week were not Dostoevsky’s dark tomes or any of the many complementary classics available, but, rather, video games.

A Tale By Two Descendants: Poet—and J.R.R. Tolkien descendant—Michael G.R. Tolkien found a new audiobook reader: Gerald Dickens, descendant of Charles Dickens. Tolkien said the partnership’s odd lineage connection happened by chance … but I don’t think that necessarily means we should all geek out over it any less. Or refrain from envisioning other great literary ancestor collaborations. (How about Vonnegut’s son + Hunter S. Thompson’s?)

* * *

WRITING PROMPT: You Had Your Reasons
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

The hotel was $19.99 for a reason. And you were there for reasons of your own … but not the kind everyone might think.

Want more writing prompts and exercises? Brian Kiteley has packed more than 200 wildly original ones into his 3 A.M. Epiphany. Check it out here.


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4 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: The strange tale of a subway station in honor of Dostoevsky (plus, a weekend prompt)

  1. Elizabeth Johnson

    Deadlines. That’s what her life was all about. Deadlines for work, for picking up the kids, for getting the laundry done and the house cleaned. Deadlines for checking in with her parents, for responding to emails and phone calls. Deadlines for paying bills.

    And now yet another one fell into her life: deadlines for her book. She hadn’t realized when she started writing the memoir that she would be so crunched for time. She thought it would be a way to relax, to sit back and reflect on her life. She didn’t know how the project would take off, how attractive her story would be to a publisher, how quickly she would be pushed to get it written.

    So here she was. Taking a weekend away from the kids, the house, the grocery shopping and bill paying, just to write. In a way it was nice, like a present to herself. Never mind the fact that all she could afford was this run-down flea-infested hovel with shabby decor (if it could be called that), a window that was bolted shut, and a suggestion of cigarettes lingering in the non-smoking room. But she was here, away from all the day-to-day distractions and to-do lists, and she could write to her heart’s content.

    It was her own little writer’s retreat, albeit one that was less than inspiring to the senses. But she had thought ahead. She pulled out her scented candles, her ipod and headphones, and imagined herself in some little coffee shop somewhere. She lined up her thesaurus and dictionary on the wobbly table, positioned a picture of her childhood home and one of her family from last Christmas, opened her notebook and started to write.

    This was one deadline she wouldn’t mind having to meet.

  2. Mandy

    Thanks for the link to the HuffPo article. Interesting…..

    You get what you pay for. She had always bristled when those words fell from her father’s disapproving lips, but as usual the sentiment was apt. Just because it’s trite doesn’t mean it’s not true. These couch cushions were a testament to that. Looking around at the solitude that twenty bucks had bought her, she wondered, not for the first time, what she was doing here. In this hotel room, in this town, in this life. All of it was so simple and straightforward that it took her breath. Snatched it right from the place by her heart where it was supposed to stay and sustain her.

    Pretty is as pretty does. Her mother’s voice this time, speaking the words that seemed to come more frequently as she had made her way towards adulthood. Because pretty she was, anyone could see that, but on the inside? That was a bit harder to see. Who knew what lie behind the sparkling eyes and the easy laugh? Of course, no one knew, she had seen to that, but if anyone had an inkling it was her mother. Mothers were like that. They knew things, but everyone else was in the dark. That’s why she spent $2o on one afternoon a month to sit alone in a hotel room while the kids were at church. She didn’t even stay the night, just a few hours was enough. It had to be. By the time her husband got home from work, she would have picked up the kids and settled herself carefully back into her life. Her real life.

    She had her reasons, but they were some of the only things that were still hers.