If you’re in need of a great read this week, you’ll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There’s Mac McClelland’s incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem’s history of the high five. Happy reading!
What's the greatest tool to create suspense? An unreliable narrator, according to Gillian Flynn, who is a master of them if you've read Gone Girl. She discussed how to write a good thriller, why she doesn't believe in guilty pleasure reading, and her ambitious quest to read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in chronological order in a New York Times "By the Book" interview. Pair with: Our conversation about Gone Girl.
The hysterical website Old Jews Telling Jokes has been revived from its year-long hibernation, and two of its newest gems are worth viewing: “A Stutter” and “Three German Shepherds.” Meanwhile, the show’s Off-Broadway adaptation is scheduled to open May 20th, and its producer has a great write-up about how the show’s evolved.
Norman Rockwell was an unhappy and enervated man who became iconic by painting scenes of happy, energetic people. He developed a style that became synonymous with idyllic visions of America. At Page-Turner, Lee Siegel reads Deborah Solmon's American Mirror, a new biography of Rockwell that acknowledges the painter’s contradictions without “mocking or scolding” him for the gulf between his life and his art.
What’s the deal with all the fake birds animated into fantasy and sci-fi films these days? According to Brian Thill, these digital flocks “aren't just there to make the unreal scenes feel a bit more real” but are rather signifiers of “our oldest and most common metaphor for freedom.” What to make of their ability to evade disaster or succumb to it, however, is another story entirely.