It’s that time of year again, readers. It’s time to stock up on gossip, skim through pieces on your favorite writers and populate your bookmarks with pages from Ladbrokes and Intrade. It’s time, in other words, to prognosticate the Nobel Prize winner, which Ladbrokes predicts will be the novelist Haruki Murakami. If you read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84, you might have placed your bets already.
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: "If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust."
Lit crit becomes a legal matter: "The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity," wrote the English judge who has dismissed the case against J.K. Rowling brought by the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs. Jacobs' estate claimed that Rowling had plagiarized elements of Willy the Wizard's plot in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Edmond Caldwell, a longtime Millions commenter and member of the golden age of lit blogging, has passed away. Caldwell was the founder of The Chagall Position and Contra James Wood. Read a tribute to Caldwell by his friends Boyd Nielson and Joseph G. Ramsey at Dispatches, here.
"And so the book we have available to us is not the one she intended for us to see — and to those who knew her only as the private spouse of a public figure, Michelle McNamara emerges from these pages as much of a mystery as the Golden State Killer does, gone in the dark." In Vulture, a profile of the late true crime writer Michelle McNamara whose book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was published last week. From our archives: an essay on why one writer reads true crime novels.
American Short Fiction's managing editor Jess Stoner is reading local newspapers from one state a week and reporting on the big headlines in a better attempt to understand America. As she puts it, "Not to snark, not to make fun of people from unincorporated towns who write letters to the editor, but to share with you a more complicated, less yell-y look at where we are, with the hopes of better understanding where we might be headed." The first state is Alabama.