“Our Aesthetic Categories, though, argues on behalf of aesthetic experiences that aren’t quite so awe-inspiring or rare. Sitting before your computers or walking the streets of your town, you don’t encounter beautiful things as frequently as you do interesting, momentarily arresting ones—and as for the sublime, when was the last time you experienced catharsis? Instead, [Sianne] Ngai considers our ‘minor’ aesthetic experiences, the ones that make up our day.” In the era of adorkable and nerd chic, Slate looks at Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting.
There are many possible answers to the question “where do you write?”, but one of the strangest, and most unexpected, has to be “I don’t know.” At The Rumpus, Brendan Constantine admits that he doesn’t write in any one place, and that his memory for where he’s written before is “completely unreliable.” We surveyed our own staff a couple years ago to see how they answered the question.
Starbucks is going to start pushing books one at a time, Oprah style. Their first selection is Mitch Albom's For One More Day. The general reaction seems to be, why couldn't they have chosen a better book?The University of California library system has signed onto the Google Books Library Project. U of C is now involved with both of the two major library scanning projects. (The other one is the Open Content Alliance, which is led by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.) The story at CNet.BookMooch is a new book swapping site that lets people exchange books with other people for free. How it works: "Give & Receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you've read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others. Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive. (via)
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What inspired Wally Lamb's latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women's prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it's like to teach "the incarcerated wounded" and how they have influenced his work. "With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring."
Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist's chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)