Harvard and MIT are partnering for an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) known as edX. Currently, similar offerings are available from Stanford, Princeton, UPenn, and the University of Michigan. Unfortunately edX and others like it will grade student papers by utilizing “crowd-sourcing” and “natural-language software.” Oh, geeze. Not that again.
“For Mr. Kirn, 51, who indeed brims with an outer confidence that can be intimidating at times to those unused to brash, creative types who dress in custom cowboy boots and seem indifferent to the modest niceties of literary image, the loud underwear seems to be working this afternoon.” If this doesn’t read like the typical author profile that’s because Walter Kirn interviewed himself for The New York Times on his new book, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade. Here’s our review.
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.
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
New this week: Craig Thompson’s long-awated follow up to Blankets is here. Stay tuned for our review of Habibi later this week. Also new: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, Aravind Adiga’s Last Man in Tower, Joe McGinniss’s much leaked exposé The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, and a new, posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein’s poetry and drawings, Every Thing On It.