“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
“As I got older, the Nigerian scam artist turned into a meme. The ‘Nigerian prince’ became a joke tossed around by white people with the same ease that ‘Italian mobster’ jokes were likely tossed around in the ‘70s—but aided now by the internet. Whenever I came across casual references to my people as scam artists, I’d wince. There was more to us than the scam. Hell—there was even more to the scam.” On how novelist Teju Cole helped Ijeoma Oluo make peace with the Nigerian scam artist.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
Incredible interview with the New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson. He tells about the time he was arrested in Guinea and accused of being a spy. Happens to journalists all the time, you say? No, this was when he was thirteen. If he ever writes a memoir, publishers will be lining up. (via Jenny)I thoroughly enjoyed Ed’s account of a near-drink with William T. Vollmann.Golden Rule Jones has a lovely new home. Be sure to update your bookmarks and feed readers.Interesting article about a promotional push by The Economist in Baltimore. A few years ago, I started hearing people talk about The Economist all the time. I wasn’t sure if the magazine was getting more popular or if I was just traveling in different circles. This quote clears it up: “Of The Economist’s worldwide circulation of just less than 1.1 million, Rossi said, North America accounts for a bit more than half, at 569,336, a figure that has increased 47.3 percent since 2001.” Wow, that’s a big jump. They deserve it. It’s a great magazine. If I had more time, I’d read every issue all the way through.