“Siri, I need something.” Beep. “What can I help you with?” “Siri, I want to fix you. I want to rewrite your dialogue.” Beep beep. “I can help you with that.”
Writing for n+1’s City by City series, Moira Donegan remarks on the “self-defeating contradictions” of working at a nonprofit in New Orleans. It’s a town, she writes, where most arrive to either “perform charity or to party,” and where, she feels, “many of the people who … come to help the city [are] also hurting it.” In certain ways, the piece can be read as being in conversation with Duncan Murrell’s 2012 essay for Oxford American about authenticity, preservation, posterity, and the Big Easy.
With Halloween a week away, The New York Times asked Ayana Mathis and Francine Prose about the “most terrifying” books they’ve read. Their choices? Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tales. Pair their combined essays with Flavorwire‘s list of “50 of the Scariest Short Stories” and our own Ben Dooley‘s brief review of House of Leaves‘s “existential terror”.
At Condalmo, Matthew Tiffany‘s review of David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace: “You can’t go more than two or three pages without Lipsky’s shadow falling over the text. And you aren’t reading this book for the Lipsky, are you? The biggest problem here is that, like it or not, his fingerprints are all over it. And I didn’t like it.”
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz’s one-of-kind victor’s shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard’s son compiles a concordance to his father’s vigorous criticism, in which “thug,” “libidinal,” and “linoleum” make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled – sort of – by The Harvard Crimson: he’s the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler’s Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and pauses on “limn.”Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be “thinking the unthinkable.”
“I’ve always loved memoir, but it’s still seen as such a trashy genre and I wanted to speak to it as actual literature because that’s how it feels to me.” Mary Karr sits down with The Rumpus to discuss The Art of Memoir. We recently posted an excerpt from and a review of the book.