Who’s the official Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Officer at your place of work? You mean you don’t have one? Well, get on that promptly. The Center for Disease Control advises that “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” so you might as well kill five birds with one stone.
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Fans of the French Oulipo movement will know about A Void, the Georges Perec novel written entirely without the use of the letter “e.” What very few readers of any kind know, however, is that in 1939, thirty years before Perec’s novel was published, Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a book in English, Gadsby, that hewed to these same constraints. At The Atlantic, Nikhil Sonnad investigates how this experiment plays out in the book.
James Gleick, writing for the New York Review of Books, looks at how the Library of Congress has begun “stockpiling the entire Twitterverse, or Tweetosphere, or whatever we’ll end up calling it” in order to create a modern-day “library of Babel.” I’ll admit that it sounds insane to collect the tweets of ~500 million users, so instead I offer an alternative. Let’s just record everything RT’d by Pentametron2013 for posterity, eh?
“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.