Earlier this month William Beutler, a D.C. based writer, started a blog about the landmarks in Boston that inspired the landscape of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Beutler does a great job chronicling the real-life history of different buildings and explaining how DFW altered them to fit into his novel.
“In a bewildering new trend, it is young rationalist bloggers in Bangladesh who have emerged as the primary target of Islamic extremists.” K. Anis Ahmed writes about the brutal murders of bloggers at the front of the secular movement who have demanded punishment for those committing genocide. Pair with an essay from Hasan Altaf about how celebrating literature can be a form a protest.
“You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing. … The enthusiasm, the joy itself draws me. So that means every day of my life I’ve written. When the joy stops, I’ll stop writing.” Recommended viewing: an animated interview with Ray Bradbury.
“In Rilke’s essay on Auguste Rodin, written in the same year, he describes the sculptor’s visits to the Jardin des Plantes early in the morning to sketch the sleepy animals. And later on, in Rodin’s studio on the Rue de l’Université, he observes a tiny plaster cast of an antique tiger that Rodin treasured: ‘There is a cast of a panther, of Greek workmanship, hardly as big as a hand…. If you look from the front under its body into the space formed by the four powerful soft paws, you seem to be looking into the depths of an Indian stone temple; so huge and all-inclusive does this work become.’” Henri Cole on the poet and a place that inspired his work.
In the late seventies, when Susan Sontag was recovering from cancer, she hired an assistant to help her catch up on correspondence. Her editor recommended Sigrid Nunez, who began working for Sontag and ended up moving in with her. Nunez now recalls the experience with a mixture of gratitude and pain. In Dissent, a look at the economy of creative assistants.