When did Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell traces the history of the phrase. “Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to ‘think different’ or ‘work smarter’ or ‘just do it.'”
We’re a little late to The Guardian‘s Families in Literature series, which includes essays on everyone from the March sisters to the Moomins and has been running for the last few weeks. A particular favorite is Moira Redmond‘s look at Brideshead Revisited‘s Flytes and the strange but true power of falling in love with an entire family, which pairs well with our own Lydia Kiesling‘s Modern Library Revue of the novel.
“Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us.” Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man — a movie about farts. But what else is it about?
Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio photographed 30 families in 24 countries, each time surrounding their subjects with their weekly food purchases. Their work was collected in their What the World Eats photo album, but you can take a look at some of their pictures over here.
Five finalists have been named for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Year in Reading alum) Joan Silber’s Fools, and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party: Stories of Rescue. One winner will be selected on April 2, 2014, and a celebratory dinner will be held in its honor on May 10. You can read up on all of the finalists over here.