Both Mark and I had noticed at poetry readings that whenever food was mentioned in a poem—and that didn’t happen very often—blissful smiles would break out on the faces of people in the audience. Thus, we reasoned, in a country where most people hate poetry and everyone is eating and snacking constantly, poems ought to mention food more frequently.
Camden County, New Jersey could become the newest location for a tool library. These libraries aren’t filled with books—instead, their contents include hand tools, like The West Philly Tool Library, a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 tools for loan. There are about 20 tool libraries around the US and a few more in Canada....more
Some of the things that people think are invented are actually true. It’s also this thing that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about with “The Danger of a Single Story,” where we think one person is the sum total of one thing.
Powerful writing might be just as moving for the writer as for the reader. New research is demonstrating that the old advice about writing through your problems might actually be based in science. Researchers in various studies are gauging how writing about situations can help improve them, like students writing essays about the difficulty adjusting to college....more
Monday 1/26: Chad Sweeney and Jennifer K. Sweeney read from their new respective works. 4:30 p.m. at the Ide Room at USC.
The Altar Collective release party for Volume VII. Featuring readings by Katelin Wagner, Kris Kidd, Franki Elliot, Christina Schmidt, Jackson Burgess, August Luhrs, Ruth Madievsky, and more....more
First, Grant Snider’s “Inferiority Complex” explores the inner recesses of consciousness.
Then, Louise Fabiani reviews Scarlett Johansson’s scary sci-fi film, Under the Skin, which “weasels its way into your reptilian brain from its first baffling frames.” Director Jonathan Glazer does a nice job of getting the audience on Johansson’s side, even as she beckons unwitting men to their deaths....more
The Guardian profiles Alex Malarkey, co-author of the bestseller The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. After admitting that, among other things, he’s never actually been there, his publisher looks to backtrack, evangelists work at damage-control, and the Malarkeys try to find their way back to an even keel....more
While the firemen were carrying me on a wheeled office chair out of the conference room, I found myself floating over the bodies of my dead colleagues, Bernard, Tignous, Cabu, Georges, bodies that my rescuers were stepping over or around, and suddenly, my God, they were no longer laughing.
The question for the day is, why are ants so much better at managing traffic than us?
Checking in on the art of Christian Marclay after The Clock.
Important news: the strepsiptera is a gross and upsetting insect....more
You know all those movies in which a character is shot in the chest, only to be miraculously saved by a pocket Bible, and everyone in the audience rolls their eyes? Well, it turns out that books actually are bulletproof—to a certain extent....more
Austin-based indie publisher A Strange Object unleashed a new digital magazine this week called Covered with Fur. The site is an elegant lesson in design, sleek and simple with just two large rectangles to choose from for its weekly offerings, labeled “Fiction” and “Not.” According to their Submissions page, which is currently open, the “Not” category includes nonfiction writings in the form of microessays, essays, or columns about objects including “treatments of found things, repurposings, archival encounters… [also] writing on design or attachment or loss.”...more
It’s very hard to imagine a president getting up and talking about how damaging the fear of terrorism has been to us, culturally and politically, and how much it’s horribly undermined us. Looking at torture and all the other things that have been done in the name of counterterrorism, it’s really quite disturbing what we’ve done in the name of our own fear.
Friday 1/23: Seminary Co-op hosts a panel discussion about diversity in children’s books, 6:30 p.m.
Shermin Nahid Kruse discusses her new novel, Butterfly Stitching, at The Book Cellar. 7 p.m., free....more
He dearly yearns for Harriot as his mistress: “Shall we not,” he asks her, “obey the dictates of nature, rather than confine ourselves to the forced, unnatural rules of—and—and shall the halcyon days of youth slip through our fingers unenjoyed?” (Actually, Harrington says all of this with “the language of the eyes.” Early Americans excelled, you see, at conducting complicated conversations using only their peepers.)
The Paris Review examines The Power of Sympathy: or, the Triumph of Nature, a 226-year-old sentimental book widely considered to be the first American novel....more
Using W.H. Auden and his predecessor, Rabelais, Nina Martyris discusses in the Los Angeles Review of Books how irony is being implemented to confront the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo:
So how should one respond? Anger and grief are appropriate enough.
After Racket Teen, the First Look Media startup for which he was working, failed, Alex Pareene joined Gawker, where he holds the “amusingly vague title of ‘Special Projects Editor.’” Here’s his idea, in Spy Magazine-like tradition:
Over the next few weeks, I plan to work closely with site leads, editors and reporters from all the Gawker Media sites to identify the perfect targets — the most obnoxious puffed-up blowhards, sanctimonious poobahs, corrupt gatekeepers, venal officials, and credulous watchdogs in each site’s respective fields — and dream up entertaining ways to embarrass or expose them.
I think often in my work the things that people are doing, just to get by, I think of as their art. It ends up looking almost a little bit like my art, even though in the context of the story it’s not art at all, and they’re not artists — because I think that’s how I look at the world often.
The genre known as “afrobeat” has a long history, thanks mostly to the visionary multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. When the Nigerian composer first came up with the name for his unique sound in the early ’70s, his music was moving thematically from the topic of love to more socially-conscious issues....more
A profile on Arthur Goldhammer, who has translated over 100 books from French to English.
As a translator, Goldhammer tries to find a pragmatic middle-ground between literalism and freestyle. The goal is to be faithful to the contents of a book but also find a style for it that works in English.