What’s it like to win the Literary Review‘s Bad Sex award? As 2010 “winner” Rowan Somerville reports, “It’s a hard pill to swallow … Despite the magazine’s assertion that ‘it’s only a bit of fun’ there’s an atmosphere of bullying peculiar to public schools about the whole thing.”
“Should we understand a photographic document as being first and foremost an artifact of memory, a light-written ghost? Or is it more important to stress its status as a material thing created from pigment, silver, emulsion, paper, plastic, glass, silicon sensors, pulses of electricity? Or is the photograph primarily an opportunity to take or make, an arena for a special type of action?” On Polaroids, instantaneous photography, and memory over at The Nation.
Are you still not following Pentametron, even after I urged you to do so last week? (And even after New York Magazine added it to its Approval Matrix?) Well, if that’s the case, I shouldn’t even share Earwickr with you. You don’t deserve to read Finnegans Wake spelled out on your Twitter timeline, 140 characters at a time. (Bonus: Michael Chabon reviews James Joyce’s final work for The New York Review of Books.)
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Some amateur biologists are at work replacing lamps with bio-luminescent trees and flowers, reports Andrew Pollack for The New York Times. Meanwhile South Korean scientists have barking up an entirely different tree for the past two years. (I’m sorry for the pun; here’s an image of a glowing beagle to make amends.)
“Tracing the journey of a mediocre actor and Holocaust survivor ‘touched by some mysterious higher design’ as he forges and impersonates his way through the war and then back to the city of his birth, the story is part Samuel Beckett and part Isaac Bashevis Singer, with a sudden final bolt of O. Henry. It has the flavour of a morality tale, but what’s most fascinating to me is how difficult it is to derive a moral from it, or rather how easy it is to derive more than one and how openly they stand in conflict with each other.” Kevin Brockmeier extols the fiction of Leandro Sarmatz.