Early on in her career, the poet Muriel Spark decided that Mary Shelley was criminally underrated as a writer. In bringing the Frankenstein author the fame she deserved, Spark wrote a biography, distanced Shelley from her famed poet husband and labeled her “the founder of science fiction.” (Related: our own Lydia Kiesling on Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) (h/t Arts & Letters Daily)
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
“The way Vermeer painted this wall is consistent with a photograph. It is not consistent with human vision.” In a fascinating new documentary by Penn and Teller, a digital-graphics artist spent five years building a lens, a room, and a harpsichord to figure out how.
One of my favorite Google Easter Eggs was the (now removed) instruction to “swim across the Atlantic Ocean” in order to get from New York to London. Today, however, that joke seems prophetic. Google, in conjunction with The University of Queensland and the Catlin Group, has created the Catlin Seaview Survey or, in other words, “an underwater variant of the Google Street View service.”
Well, it turns out that Dutch bookselling site was right after all. In three weeks, Dave Eggers will release his latest novel, A Hologram For the King. The author gives some more information in an interview with The Rumpus‘ Stephen Elliott, but it seems pretty crazy how this isn’t being talked about more.
In the latest issue of the LRB, Jenny Diski comes to the defense of Liz Jones, a Daily Mail columnist and spiritual sibling to the far-too-beautiful-to-live Samantha Brick. Her takeaway after reading a column that got Jones into hot water? Diski “couldn’t see” what the pilloried writer had done wrong.