Football Book Club is back from its relaxing bye week -- and in preparation of the impending Environmental End Times, these truly decent, patriotic human beings are reading The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. So pick up your copy today, read along, and learn how we're fucking up the planet in ways you never even imagined possible. Also: if this week's book is making you feel slightly depressed and/or down in the dumps and/or bummed, check back with FBC all week for essays on Speak by Louisa Hall.
"I bet you can relate. Always another crisis, always more costs to keep down. It’s hard to find time for yourself, you know? But the president of the United States should be able to read a book when he wants to. Or at least look at one. Maybe I could just look at this book for a while."
Following Sarah Hepola's devastating New York Times Magazine profile of Cat Marnell with empathy and queer theory, Jane Hu's piece on what it means to read Marnell, to follow her and crave her work even as her work destroys her, merits reading and rereading.
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions' own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
Looks like our robot overlord is going to be a 13-year-old boy: the Turing Test has been passed for the first time by a bot simulating a preteen, making history for artificial intelligence research and teenagers alike. "Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn't know everything," researchers explained.
Tom Wolfe’s next book will be a “nonfiction account of the animal/human speech divide,” reports Sarah Weinman. Presumably this effort – entitled The Kingdom of Speech – will be based on the author’s “Human Beast” lecture from 2006. (A lecture he went on to explicate in a 2008 interview with SF Gate.) Hopefully the Great White Suit’s return to straight nonfiction will prove more successful than his attempt at fictionalizing Miami last year.