Adorable pictures of baby hippos aside, it’s a common misconception that animals are “smiling” at you out of sincere happiness. Probably you’re projecting that onto them, writes Lee Dye in a piece from 2010. For more on the perils of assigning human qualities to other animal species, I highly recommend checking out Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy’s When Elephants Weep.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
Norris Church Mailer, widow of Norman Mailer, died yesterday at 61 following a long battle with cancer. Mark Olshaker, president of the Norman Mailer Society, wrote: "She was the pilgrim soul who captured and won Norman’s heart and mind and who shared with him the last three decades of his life."
"Any reasonably skilled novelist can evoke on the page the texture of memory, drawing the reader into the half-remembered, the blurred edges, the nervous nostalgia, the meandering associations across time and geography. In contrast, flashbacks on screen tend always to be clumsy beasts, announcing their arrival with unwanted fanfare and knocked-over furniture. Why is this?" Kazuo Ishiguro on film, and other novelists' second-favorite art forms.
So you got a new Kindle for Christmas, and you've loaded it up with all our ebook recommendations? That's great, but it may not be enough. Best to add a few ebooks to impress anyone who happens to come across your e-reader, just in case, and McSweeney's has just the list.
A while back, I wrote about Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, which may be the first novel in history written entirely in the form of recommendation letters. Now, at The Rumpus, Anjali Enteti sits down with Schumacher, who talks about writing by hand, the adjunct crisis, and why it’s okay that so many people are getting MFAs. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on why MFA grads should teach high school.