“[Maria] Bamford’s newest show…is a more polished product, but equally radical—as unsettling as anything Andy Kaufman ever did.” Is the Internet the comedy world’s final frontier?
In Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour, a series of short stories take the reader from the present day to 2025, exploring a near-future Vancouver in which things grow steadily more surreal. As Emily Oppenheimer writes, it’s clearly a work of speculative fiction, yet the setting resembles our own world in uncanny ways. Sample quote: “Compton achieves the more troubling, yet ultimately more satisfying, goal of portraying the fantastical as something that is very much rooted in what we think we already know about ourselves and our world.”
Why is Hamlet so maddeningly indecisive? It’s a question as well-trod as any in literature, yet few people question that dithering is what defines the Prince of Denmark. In The Irish Times, Brian Dillon looks at another way of thinking about the character, one laid out in a recent book, that centers on the idea that Hamlet is crippled by “the burden of knowledge itself.”
“Writers are not often great lovers but pathological inventors of explanations. Sex induces a kind of cowardice in them, a fear of experimentation, of being vulnerable, of stepping naked onto the stage to examine all the presumptions that pass without question when everyone still has their pants on.” Michael Thomsen makes the case that dating writers is a bad idea.
“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.