Jonathan Franzen isn’t the only writer opposing technology and digitization. Jennifer Egan, in a panel discussion last week, compared Facebook to a “huge Soviet apartment block.”
Over at The Paris Review, Wei Tchou travels to Flannery O’Connor’s farm in Georgia. As she writes, “The charm of Andalusia lies in gestures like this, the ones that urge you into feeling as though you belong. The place isn’t a fossil, it’s a home.” Pair with Nick Rapatrazone’s Millions essay on teaching and learning from “the greatest American writer ever to load up a typewriter.”
“The joy of reading about the meals of others shows that, in many ways, we are simple creatures: by merely looking upon someone else eating we can feel better fed.” In the New Yorker, Bee Wilson considers the “Pleasures of the Literary Meal,” something Seth Sawyers wrote about for the Millions last year.
Recommended Reading: A fascinating interview from The Rumpus with Susan Shapiro. Shapiro’s newest novel, What’s Never Said, is out now from Heliotrope Books. You may also be interested in Beth Kephart‘s essay for The Millions about the utility of the outward-looking memoir and its crossover with other genres.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling‘s elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let’s say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”
“Aspiring journalists tend to worship at the altar of Joan Didion,” writes Heather Havrilesky (who some of you may know as Polly) in the latest issue of Bookforum. The fact that so many writers look up to Didion as an example necessitates that the lit world find at least one offbeat alternative. In Havrilesky’s eyes, that alternative is obvious: the late Nora Ephron was the anti-Didion, she argues.