In the NY Review of Books, Janet Malcolm digs into Anna Karenina and explains how Tolstoy casts a spell of effortless narration on his readers. This relates to an idea I had when reading the novel a few years ago, namely, that realist fiction should be understood as a genre filled artifice (and I do not disparage it for that quality — it’s high praise). It does not throw up a mirror to life and merely describes what is seen. It casts the illusion that what you are reading is real. Tolstoy is one of our grand wizards in that regard.