Now that they’ve announced the impending publication of The Best American Infographics, it might be prudent to revisit Reif Larsen’s classic Millions article, “This Chart Is a Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros of the Infographic.”
“I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning. Life is still good, and it is worth living on a May morning - I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! … In a word, there are many thorns, but the roses are there too.” These excerpts from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s letters are just gorgeous.
A recent survey of 19th century British literature uncovered advertising subtly placed within classic texts by authors like Dickens, Austen, and Thackeray. From Vanity Fair, for example: “‘My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons' eggs,’ George said, laughing. ‘How they must set off her complexion! Surely she avails herself of Madame A.T. Rowley's Toilet Mask (or Face Gloves)...’” (via Book Bench)
Recommended listening: Radio Open Source has been broadcasting Anton Chekhov's short stories, with voices including Chekhov translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett, author Andre Dubus of House of Sand and Fog, and numerous other writers, actors, and scholars. "Chekhov makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to live a better life." (Unpersuaded? Consider our essays on why reading Chekhov, unlike booze or smokes, will make you a better person in 2014.)
The Omnivore has announced the shortlist for its the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, honoring "the author of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months." Worthy candidates all, though we note that our review, written by Holloway McCandless, of Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall is perhaps even more trenchant than (and was published over a month before) Adam Mars-Jones' shortlisted review, which, like ours, found Cunningham's endless references to the literary canon tiresome.
"America has always been built—and continues to be built—by those the establishment keeps invisible." Public Books runs the sixth installment of its "An Engineer Reads a Novel" series, this time taking on Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad and John Henry Days. We also recently reviewed the former, which has been blessed by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.
Landays are traditional two-line folk poems, and they are particularly popular among Afghan women these days. Recently Poetry magazine dedicated an issue to the short verses, and Dowser has a behind-the-scenes look at how the issue was put together. Previously, New York Times Magazine caught up with some members of Mirman Baheerm, a women’s literary society based in Kabul.
At Flavorwire Jonathan Sturgeon considers what we've learned from Dubliners in the hundred years since it was first published and argues that "when it comes to realism, Dubliners, more than even Chekhov’s short fiction, is the model we routinely fail to live up to." Sturgeon's reflections on Joyce's free indirect discourse pair well with Jonathan Russell Clark's Millions essay on close writing, and his essay isn't completely without hope: he concludes with a few books that, "on the surface, look nothing like Dubliners, but, in spirit... show that Joyce’s book still lives 100 years on."