Spotted on the streets of New York: a casting call for a “10-13 year old Caucasian male” to play protagonist Oskar Schell in Stephen Daldry‘s upcoming film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Notable Goyim Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are attached to the project, as Oskar’s parents.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
What do you do if you’re Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you’re Tolstoy, you’ll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite,” usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: “Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice).” And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions‘s perennially popular “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater.”
In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
Sam Lipsyte’s new collection The Fun Parts is out this week. Also out are Red Doc> by Anne Carson, Mary Coin by Marisa Silver, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid, Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller, The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, and The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver.