Ben Lerner has a story [subscription required] in this week’s New Yorker that, like his debut novel Leaving the Atocha Station, features a protagonist named The Author. The magazine interviewed Lerner about the invitation to blur his fiction with his autobiography. He says that his work in an exercise in “activating those questions in peculiar ways—but the questions, not the answers, are what strike me as interesting.”
“Six thousand books is a lot of reading, true, but the trash like Hell’s Belles and Kid Colt and The Legend of the Lost Arroyo and even Part-Time Harlot, Full-Time Tramp that I devoured during my misspent teens really puff up the numbers. And in any case, it is nowhere near a record. Winston Churchill supposedly read a book every day of his life, even while he was saving Western Civilization from the Nazis. This is quite an accomplishment, because by some accounts Winston Churchill spent all of World War II completely hammered.”
Why do we strain ourselves to apply scientific methods to the humanities, when the results of such studies always miss the point, asks Maria Konnikova. For those looking to do some field research on the fruits of the growing digital humanities movement before condemning them, the latest issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities is packed with interesting (and chart-filled) reads.
Michael Lewis gave the 2012 Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University this year, and used his time to speak about life experience, the strange paths we take after graduation, and everyone’s “debt to the unlucky.” You can watch the speech here, or you can read the transcript here.
Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem’s first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. “What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick,” he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.
“Perhaps this is why King favors prose—many of his novels and stories confront terror so enormous it transcends poetic language.” In Poetry Foundation, an essay about Stephen King‘s little known literary habit: writing poetry. Pair with: our editor Lydia Kiesling on discovering America through King’s novels.