Jonathan Franzen’s denunciation of e-books made headlines this week even though the sentiment is fairly common in “literary” circles. He can be forgiven, is what I’m saying. You denigrate the internet, however, and we’ve got some problems.
“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.
“This is how he justified what he did even as he knew what kind of parent he’d become, the kind that used to make him gag as recently as two months ago. The ones who blithely assumed their online friends were gluttons for punishment. Here’s my baby lying on his back! And here’s my baby also lying on his back! And how about this one: blurry baby on his back! Good God, the vanity of it all, the epic self-centeredness. He knew all this, and still he uploaded eleven pictures of Brian.” An excerpt of Victor LaValle’s new novel The Changeling. (You could also read our interview with the author from last year.)
Recommended Reading: This piece by Elisa Gabbert at Guernica Magazine in which she questions whether certain ideas can survive new shifts in language. It’s too bad she didn’t write it in emoji.
Miguel de Cervantes died and was buried 399 years ago, and apparently no one thought to mark his grave. But the Guardian has reported that after two years of searching a team of archaeologists have found and positively identified the Don Quixote author’s body, and there are plans to open his crypt to the public next year in honor of the 400th anniversary of his death.
Recommended Reading: Nathaniel Rich discusses Stephen Wright’s Meditations in Green, which he says is remarkable because “it convinces you that the war never ended.” Indeed, Rich writes, the author’s debut novel “suggests that Vietnam at some point transcended the Indochina peninsula and became a mental condition, a state of being not unlike certain forms of insanity, that has become encrypted in our genetic code.”