Wikipedia Find of the Week: List of unusual deaths. For example, “Draco, Athenian law-maker, was smothered to death by gifts of cloaks showered upon him by appreciative citizens at a theatre on Aegina.”
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. "The reason that the Oracle works is that it's always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it's not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It's a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has."
Veterans of writing workshops will know that a good story has a heavy dose of conflict. One can add it to a story in many ways, but one of the best and most reliable is to add a predator, either in the form of a threatening organisation or an animal or person with malicious intent. At the Ploughshares blog, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman reflects on predatory literature.
According to Gilles Deleuze, "the lives of philosophers are rarely interesting." This may have come as a surprise to Jacques Derrida, who once spent a couple days in jail after cops in the Prague airport tried to frame him for smuggling weed. (This incident gets ample coverage in a new biography of the scholar).
A new Hemingway App promises to trim the fat from your writing in a way that the Great Bearded One would’ve approved. The app uses various color codes to highlight writing written in the passive voice, writing that’s too hard to read, and also unnecessary adverbs or complex phrases. Sounds interesting enough, no? Well, the problem is that someone ran the Hemingway App on some actual Ernest Hemingway writing, and it turns out that Papa himself didn’t even write to the app’s standard.