Though Franzen would surely argue (in great excess of 140 characters) to the contrary, the excellent introductory essay from the latest issue of N+1 lauds Twitter for “the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.”
The folks at Harper’s Bazaar (not Harper’s Magazine) are launching a new short story competition, and the grand prize is wild: an all-expenses-paid weeklong stay on a private Scottish island, publication in the May 2014 issue of the magazine and a first-edition book from the Asprey’s Fine and Rare Books Department, worth up to £3,000. (And yes, that’s pounds, not dollars.)
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
Did you think the title of the most recent book you read could’ve been improved if it had been a bit more straightforward? Then Better Book Titles is for you. Among their more inspired retitlings: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Gay Jewish Magicians Kill Nazis), Blink (Everyone is Racist), and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The First Book I’ve Read in Six Years).