“‘It’s important to realize how the funniness in these videos [such as those featuring Kai the axe-wielding hitchhiker and Uncle Ruslan] is really close to something that’s desperately unfunny,’ says Mark O’Connell, who wrote Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever.”
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
We've all read some version of this story before. In the newest iteration of Listicles for People Just Like You over at McSweeney's, Rufi Thrope helpfully provides Ten Signs Your Name is James and You Are Teaching English at a Fancy Boarding School.
Practically everyone read Maud Newton's riff on David Foster Wallace's influence this weekend, but Edward Champion had some issues with it.
“But upon learning that the unmarried 60-something Ms. Welty was a fan, the 50-something Macdonald — Ken Millar, to use his real name, as he does in these letters — dashed off a note of thanks. A reply followed within a week.” On a new book of letters between Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald. You could also read Jonathan Clarke on the letters of Willa Cather.
Here is Amitav Ghosh in conversation with Michael Berkeley for the BBC Radio3 broadcast about his new novel, Flood of Fire. In the interview, Ghosh talks about his childhood by the water and the influence of the sea on his work. He also curates a playlist of influential music that ranges from Bengali boat songs to Phillip Glass to ‘Hindoo airs.’