Got any big social engagements coming up on your calendar? Want to make a splash? Well here’s just the thing: memorize a whole heap of the words assembled in Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff, which has been entirely digitized thanks to some kind souls. Then try to work them into as many conversations as you can. (h/t The Harlequin)
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
“I first met Dean not long after Tryscha and I hooked up. I had just gotten over a wicked fucking hangover that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with a six-foot-five douchebag and a beer bong… Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see hot LA actress chicks and try In N’ Out burgers, always vaguely planning and never taking off.” – From On the Bro’d, where every sentence of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is retold for Bros. (via The Rumpus)
Fanfiction has been gaining mainstream popularity and cultural heft – just take our own Elizabeth Minkel‘s Year in Reading post as evidence. For those of us with less experience in the fic community, Vulture has assembled a comprehensive “Guide to the Fanfiction Explosion,” complete with infographics on Harry Styles fic, an explanation of why Annie Proulx isn’t thrilled about Brokeback Mountain spinoffs, and, of course, a syllabus for further reading.