“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.
Riverhead Books makes an amusing pun in a new fundraiser in which individuals can purchase 3D heads of Riverhead authors — Marlon James, Khaled Hosseini, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lauren Groff, Nick Hornby and more. Proceeds will go to the nonprofit Libraries Without Borders, which supports migrant and refugee populations in Europe by making books and learning materials accessible in multiple languages.
If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
In a 2010 profile, Deborah Eisenberg told us, of her current efforts at writing fiction, “I’m sort of desperately throwing myself against pieces of paper and only coming up with what look like bug smears.” Now, as will shock none of her readers Eisenberg has come up with something considerably more appetizing: a new short story called “Recalculating.” It’s available, free, at the NYRB (!).
The Critterati pets-in-literary-garb contest ends at midnight tonight! You can view a gallery of the submissions as they appear, and some of them are phenomenal. I especially like Humbert Humbert. I don’t know how these people got their animals to cooperate (drugs, probably). Big Ed and Nadine, aged six months, made it quite clear that under no circumstances would they be dressed up as Lata and Kabir from A Suitable Boy (what am I supposed to do with this tiny cardboard cricket bat now?) Henry and June was also a non-starter, but that might have been unkind to do to siblings, anyway. No one wants to see his sister chew up a garter belt. Evidently I’m not the only one to encounter massive opposition.
As some of you may have heard, a handful of pioneering companies are trying to use flying robots in place of cars for deliveries. In the Bay Area, the geniuses behind Tacocopter are blazing a new path for restaurants, while in France, the postal service in Auvergne is working on a system for newspapers. (Fingers crossed that somebody will try this with lit mags.)