Tonight at Columbia: A conversation with Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and most recently Super Sad True Love Story. Moderated by McKenzie Wark, professor of media and cultural studies at The New School and author of Gamer Theory. “Rewiring the Real” at 6:30 P.M.
“They’re pictures, not images; displays, not shots; illustrations, not compositions. They are respectful displays of performance—of the demonstrative theatrical antics into which Anderson lets his performers lapse.” Richard Brody on the film version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.
"Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone? Dystopia, situated in a dangerous no-man’s-land between the pulpit of the preacher and the safe sniper post of the satirist." Future futurists, take note: the New York Review of Books reviews Chang-Rae Lee's addition to your dystopic shelf, On Such a Full Sea, and ponders the virtues of the dystopic endeavor itself. (Bonus: Lee writes about his own 2013 Year in Reading here at The Millions.)
Why do articles go viral? At The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova traces what makes a popular story all the way back to Aristotle, but today's clickbait has two features: a positive message or an ability to excite the reader emotionally. This probably explains why we love those articles about puppies. Pair with: Our piece on if book titles were written for clicks.
"It’s really strange to have the success of a poem be so directly tied to people processing grief. It’s a strange thing, because it’s a blessing and a curse." The Rumpus interviews poet Maggie Smith about her new collection, Good Bones, her viral poem that shares its name, and her craft. From our archives: Smith's collection was featured in our round-up of October's Must-Read Poetry.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries -- many of them relating to their own personal traumas -- in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.