In what was surely one of the most fun experiments of all time, a team of Irish scientists have finally figured out why Guinness stout bubbles fall instead of rise.
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
Ultra-bestselling author Danielle Steel went off recently about something that’s been bothering her for ages. “I think some people are threatened if one is enterprising or has many/varied interests,” she writes. In particular, “it’s about men who don’t like women getting out there, doing something new or innovative and accomplishing something.”
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
Daniel Orozco‘s Orientation collects many of his short stories in one attractive volume. Released last May, the collection features the classic story “Orientation” (Scribd) as well as newer ones such as “Shakers” (Scribd). It garnered enough hype to land him on the long list for this year’s Frank O’Connor Award.
Small Demons presents Storyverse, a website in which users are invited to explore the connections between their favorite books and the people, places, and cultural artifacts out of which they are woven. It’s difficult to explain, but painless to enjoy thanks to a beautiful GUI.