The latest short by James W. Griffiths, We Were Wanderers On a Prehistoric Earth, is an “ode to the incredible flora and fauna of Malaysia.” The film is accompanied by a passage from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and it’s clear that the author’s description of the Congo applies to Southeast Asia quite easily.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego." (For a taste of the Harper's essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann's connection to the Unabomber.)
You’re probably up to your neck in World Cup coverage, but here are some gems well worth your attention no matter what: Teju Cole created a “Copa do Mundo do Brasil” playlist to set the mood; Pablo Torre’s one-sentence-long summation of Day One in São Paulo; an excerpt from Aleksandar Hemon's The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer; The New Republic’s round-up of “eleven writers and intellectuals on the World Cup’s most compelling characters"; and, of course, Shaj Mathew's recent Millions review of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil.
"To read something before it is accessible to all is both a privilege and an unfair advantage." Je Banach's notes on keeping the secrets of the books she writes about (e.g., Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) are thoughtful, poignant, and tantalizingly spoiler-free.
“I took a ride (on an elephant); but it was by request—I did not ask for it, and didn’t want it; but I took it, because otherwise they would have thought I was afraid, which I was.” Mark Twain, the consummate American, travelled the world in style–despite having almost no money. Allow me to direct your attention to this complementary Millions piece on Twain and the art of travel writing.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature's Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. "I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world," she said. The winners are Andrew Winer's review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe's review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green's Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.