The Facebook IPO was this week’s biggest story. The social media giant, which boasts 800 million members, is seeking a $75-$100 billion market valuation. But hold your horses, investors. A lot of that optimism could be empty hype. After all, look at the site’s requested valuation as a percentage of its 2011 revenue, and compare it to other tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Also, contrary to Mark Zuckerberg’s claim, most of the world does not, in fact, “have access to the internet or mobile phones.”
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym 'GAN,' which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
Believing that high quality TV dramas have supplanted silver screen blockbusters, and now rival novels as "the best way of widely communicating ideas and stories," Salman Rushdie is set to pen a science fiction series for Showtime. The show will be called "The Next People." Yet while he's cited "The Wire" as a source of inspiration, the novelist also backhandedly referred to it as "just a police series." (A stance he defended on Twitter.) Controversial? Perhaps. But still nothing compared to him calling "Game of Thrones" "very addictive garbage." Later on, when asked by Vulture to list some of his favorite TV shows, Rushdie curiously counted "Entourage" among them.
At this point, we're all familiar with Cheryl Strayed's transformative solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that she wrote about in Wild. Yet at Condé Nast Traveler, she discusses how a recent family vacation to Laos reawakened her passion for travel. "Here we were on a sacred hill so far off from the place from which we had come, and so abundantly thankful for it. Perhaps the power of that very gratitude is the reason I travel."
Celebrate the start of baseball season and the beginning of National Poetry Month at the same time by reading Hobart’s annual Baseball Issue. This year, the site plans on rolling out “daily baseball stories, poems, essays, and other baseball miscellany,” so it’s pretty much the Venn diagram overlap of all of your April needs.
With Halloween a week away, The New York Times asked Ayana Mathis and Francine Prose about the "most terrifying" books they've read. Their choices? Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. Pair their combined essays with Flavorwire's list of "50 of the Scariest Short Stories" and our own Ben Dooley's brief review of House of Leaves's "existential terror".
Mama Hope, a group that works with local African organizations "to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities," has released a great promo featuring four young men who are tired of Hollywood's African stereotypes. Their complaints are reminiscent of those enumerated in Binyavanga Wainaina's classic essay "How to Write about Africa," and also in Laura Seay's great article from last week, "How Not to Write About Africa."