The more you know! In Victorian times, sitting for a photograph could last hours due to primitive camera technology and the need for long, long exposures. This, predictably, didn’t jibe with kids, and so parents had to adopt an ingenious workaround: disguising themselves in the picture so they could physically restrain the youngsters. (Don’t miss Part 2, either.)
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story’s insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
Amazon has unveiled its “Kindle Singles” store. Says Amazon: “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length.” In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif “updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster.” Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.
People like to think that the more books they read, the better people they’ll become. But is that really true? The answer’s unclear. But one thing does seem apparent: reading more books might make you better at bullying people.
Name a famous person, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with. If you answered “Henry Miller,” you can watch Dinner With Henry, a rare, 30-minute documentary about Henry Miller, that is exactly what its title implies: footage of Miller having dinner. (via @maudnewton)
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
“I’m not a journalist, and I don’t pretend to be one, and most of the pieces in there were assigned to me by Harper’s, with these sort of maddening instructions of, you know, just go to a certain spot and kind of, you know, turn 350 degrees a few times and tell us what you see.” Tom Scocca posts a five-part transcript of a phone interview he did with David Foster Wallace in February 1998. (Thanks, Nick.)