In response to the news that Nintendo and Netflix may be developing a Legend of Zelda TV series, Ted Trautman at the Paris Review blog examines the character development and narrative structure (or lack thereof) of video games and wonders if it’s possible for a video game to tell a good story....more
They featured characters having hallucinations and apparitions; super-strength robots throwing cars on a destructive rampage; jealous gorillas who are furious they didn’t end up with the girl; a thieving woman stealing a piglet under the cover of nighttime; and circus murder mysteries.
The gamer story. Regardless of its iteration—D&D, Commodore 64, Nintendo, X Box, LARP—there is the hero, and there is the rest of the gang, subjugated as sidekicks and underlings. The gamer story has a long tradition of tropes and structures, arcs and character elements, at the center of which has always been the hero telling the story and in world more like ours, the person role-playing that hero....more
The system for determining worth and value strikes me as terribly strange, and it occurs to me that it just might require a suspension of disbelief. Luckily for me, I know something about that.
For Salon, Rachel Basch writes about the humiliation of refinancing her mortgage as a writer, freelance editor, and adjunct....more
In the New Yorker, Carmen Maria Machado writes about the poor adjunct situation throughout American universities....more
While in one sense the propensity in mainstream discourse to describe racial conflict with words like “tolerance” and “hate”—rather than “power” or “oppression”—has made it possible for greater numbers of people to conceive of how racism affects individuals on a psychological level, a more unsettling consequence of this turn has been that diversity has largely replaced equality as the ultimate goal for many educational and workplace settings, including the book publishing world.
A library is rarely ever just a library, often evolving alongside the community it serves. The Lacuna Project is taking this idea literally by building a library made entirely of books for this year’s Bay Area Book Festival. Festival-goers will be able to remove (and keep) books without damaging the structure, whose lighting and acoustics will change in response to their collective impact....more
Paul Lisicky writes about those moments in our lives when we find ourselves in between:
Some people carve X’s into the skin behind their knees after a breakup. Some curse at random strangers, or fall in love with escorts or junkies or petty criminals, people as far as possible from the loved ones they’d left.
Road trip songs occupy a plush seat in the American canon—right underneath the fuzzy dice. They are often harbingers of summer, and “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” is no exception. This prototypical Tribe Called Quest track from their first album features a playful and engaging narrative from standout MC, Q-Tip....more
So where does this leave us? I think back to “The Woman Question.” I have (most days) not felt the need to leave my husband and children in order to safeguard my sanity, so that is progress of a sort, I concede.
Reviewing W. Joseph Campbell’s 1995: The Year the Future Began, Louis Menand explores, among other things, the different conceptions and strategies for recording history....more
Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth shares a fantastic long form piece on the rise of the Harlequin romance novel, and how the brand became synonymous with a wildly lucrative if critically dismissed genre. From the original formula for woman-centered, alpha-male page turners to Harlequin’s relentless advertising tactics to the question of exactly how much sex sells best, Faircloth presents a sociological study....more
Over at the New Yorker, a journalist returns to what was almost the last town he ever reported on....more
(adj.); intended to teach; related to teaching or education
“How did it come to be … that ‘those of us for whom English is a line of work are also called upon to love literature and ensue that others do so, too’?”
–Dora Zhang, “Love, Loot, and Lit.”
“We don’t expect,” writes Dora Zhang, “a molecular biologist to love bacteria in the way we expect an English professor to love Jane Austen.” It’s a valid point: when we talk about literature, it’s usually with undertones of awe, adoration and admiration for the craft of the writing, the words themselves....more
The world’s first museum dedicated to the life and work of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is set to open in his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts as soon as 2016. The venture will be a welcome addition to the museum circuit of western Mass, already home to the Art Picture Book Museum, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Yiddish Book Center, and will be a lively center for education programs as well as cultural artifacts....more
Wednesday 3/25: The University of San Francisco presents Day 2 of their annual Emerging Writers Festival, featuring Stegner Fellow Shara Lessley and the winner of the 2012 American Short(er) Fiction Award, Ryan MacDonald. Free, 7:45 p.m., University of San Francisco, Marschi Room, Fromm Hall....more
What comes to mind when you hear the name Monica Lewinsky? The blue dress? A beret? Or maybe some rap songs? If so, you’re far from alone. But that all changed for several of us, including me, when she walked onto the TED stage Thursday....more
For a poet as anthologized as Elizabeth Bishop, it’s fair to say there’s a certain lack of serious criticism—or perhaps, critics thinking seriously—about her work, compared to the Modernists against whose influence she was writing. Eavan Boland reviews a new volume by Colm Tóibín that aims to begin closing the gulf....more