“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.
Recommended viewing: Open Culture has tracked down two animated adaptations of Dostoevksy‘s work. There’s one of his short story “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” “in full-on existentialist mode,” and slightly more ambitious (though dramatically abridged) short film of Crime and Punishment.
RSVP: We’ve already had several RSVPs for our NYC indie bookstore walking tour. Get all the details via our announcement post.People are still adding to our collaborative literary Atlas. Recent additions include several non-bookstore literary spots in the Midwest, including the Kate Chopin House and the final resting place of William S. Burroughs. The Atlas itself has been viewed over 100,000 times.Panelists at the SXSW “New Think for Old Media” panel face death by a thousand Tweets.Also via Freebird: Iggy Pop explores Michel Houellebecq’s raw power.Mark Grief and Year in Reading contributor Wells Tower give far-ranging interviews in a new online journal, Wag’s ReviewHanif Kureishi discusses life after the Rushdie fatwa.A bibliography of coffee.The editor of John Updike’s book reviews remembers the writer: “he was attentive to everything.”Cathleen Schine admires Zoe Heller’s The Believers.The Village Voice praises Mary Gaitskill’s “ludicrous mastery.”In two long posts, Blographia Literaria offers a thoughtful alternative to our take on The Kindly OnesBen Okri pioneers the Twitter poem.Two books named Brooklyn enter, one book named Brooklyn leaves. (via)Tucker Carlson sounds a dissenting note on Jon Stewart in the wake of the Jim Cramer takedown.Levi Asher and Scott Esposito discuss litblog economics.At The Second Pass, Jon Fasman calls readers’ attention to Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, echoing John Wray’s Year in Reading contention that “Sometimes, though, a work of originality and genius slips inexplicably through the cracks.”Wray’s Lowboy, meanwhile, got the James Wood treatment at the New Yorker this week.
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
Can’t get your fill of end-of-the-world scenarios? Playboy has a list of five new books to give you your eschatological fill. We have a few recent pieces about literary apocalypses too: reviews of Alan Moore‘s Jerusalem (here) and Colson Whitehead‘s The Underground Railroad (here), and Dana Spiotta‘s interview with After James author Michael Helm. Go forth and destroy (in your minds).
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.