Curiosities

Hollywood Calls

"Bestselling self-published authors attract producers because they have a proven track record if they stay on Amazon sales charts over time." The Guardian considers the Hollywood success of writers such as Andy Weir, E. L. James, and Mark Dawson. And just last year our own Bill Morris wondered why literature was enjoying such a good run out in LaLa Land: "Four novels as source material for Oscar-nominated screenplays? What happened? Did some pixie slip a vial of smart powder into the L.A. drinking water?"
Curiosities

I Am Not A Pre-Existing Condition

"The worst days I’ve ever known could be my future under the American Health Care Act." For Catapult, Liz Lazzara writes about her history with mental illness and what might happen if the new healthcare legislation passes the Senate. Pair with Gila Lyons in our pages about madness, medication, and the creative instinct.
Curiosities

Too Crazy to Believe

"Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison." Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump's presidency. "My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea," writes Altman, "and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best."
Curiosities

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

"[L]et’s not pull punches — misogyny has disfigured how Dickinson’s story is told. We’re missing out on a fierce mind when we reduce her to a spinster perseverating alone in her room writing poems to the ether." A new Emily Dickinson exhibition proves the poet wasn't nearly as much of a recluse as we've been led to think, writes Daniel Larkin for Hyperallergic. Pair with this piece on Paul Legault’s English-to-English translations of her poetry, which "transports Dickinson into mostly fortune-cookie length snippets of contemporary English, a dialect spoken widely in urban pockets like Brooklyn, where increasing numbers of the highly educated and literary classes live, procreate, keep each other amused, and make their own cheese."
Curiosities

Black Bodies Online

"I couldn’t help but feel that technology had circled back to some of its earliest purposes: broadcasting anti-black violence as widely as possible, as both entertainment and warning." Our own Ismail Muhammad writes for Real Life about the tension between bearing witness and perpetuating paradigms of white supremacy while on the web. And if you haven't yet read it, do spend some time with this review of Nate Marshall's Wild Hundreds, which provides some fortification.
Curiosities

Immortal Life IRL

"I became completely obsessed." At the 92nd Street Y, Rebecca Skloot shares the story behind her bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, joined by members of the Lacks family and actress Rose Byrne, who plays Skloot in the forthcoming film adaptation of her book. Skloot also discusses how the subject of the book is intimately linked to her own father's health crisis, which Amy Halloran wrote about in our own pages a few years back.
Curiosities

More XX at the C-Level, Please

"Are things getting worse for women in publishing?" The Guardian asks, and while the article focuses on the UK, it also touches on the state of affairs in the U.S. What both situations share is a lack of female representation at the executive level, based partly on "a generation of women retiring and the amalgamation of publishing houses, which has left fewer c-circle jobs to compete for." Oh, and sexism.
Curiosities

Force Feeding

"I am uncomfortable in my role as witness." Nehal El-Hadi writes for The New Inquiry about the online spectacle of black death, exploring what "Black thanatosensitive" user experience design might look like. And ICYMI: our own Ismail Muhammad on Frank Ocean and depictions of the black male body.
Curiosities

Torching Alexandria

"This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon." Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google's audacious plan to digitize all the world's books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
Curiosities

You Already Know This Because You Read

"[L]overs of more experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives but it was comedy fans who scored the highest for relating to others." A new study suggests that people who read books are nicer, reports The Independent. In our recent interview with author John Vaillant he wholly agreed. "Empathy is what gives you the access," he told us. "I see the writer (fiction or nonfiction) as a kind of permeable membrane through which the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others can pass and manifest."