“Wallace’s status has rapidly evolved from marginal writer, noted for long, experimental work, to indispensable reference point for people writing about almost anything—from college football to WikiLeaks.” On the powerful afterlife of David Foster Wallace.
In Case You Missed It: This email exchange between playwright Sarah Ruhl and the late Max Ritvo, whose Four Reincarnations is out next week: “I think my mind is a set of lapis lazuli steps falling apart, and all I want is to be told ‘it’s alright, we rebuild it every day’ But what is the it? What is it? And if I was vaporized by a ray gun but was then replaced instantly by an identical person with an identical filigree of nerves shot through with identical sparks cased in an identical skull—would it still be me? I don’t think so. I don’t know if even a perfect Reincarnation would be a Reincarnation to me, in my heart. I’m starting to feel like Theseus and I just want my fucking ship out of the dry-dock and back on the water.”
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a “Serial in Documentary Uncertainty” masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features “a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion,” and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though “the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis.”
With the help of the folks at Ploughshares and Medium, Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman is publishing a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure literary short story. To participate, read the first chapter (as well as the introduction) online, then tweet Bergman to tell her where the story should go from there.
“As a speaker of a small language, it can be alarming to hear the rapidly increasing influx of new words from a dominant force. Back in 2000, linguistics researcher Sylfest Lomheim caused upheaval by claiming the Norwegian language wouldn’t survive the next century. Is this the beginning of the end?” On the Anglicization of Norwegian.
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren’t enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.