“Mr. Fogg assured us he would touch down at our place at precisely 8:45 in the evening. Imagine our delight when he not only arrived with all the punctuality befitting an Englishman, but also quite literally touched down! In a hot air balloon!” Introducing literary couchsurfing.
Do people still need to study the humanities? You’d think the answer is “yes, of course,” but the issue is far more complicated than that. In a bid to sort it out, The New Republic recently asked a group of former university presidents to give their viewpoints on the matter. Sample quote: “Humanities faculty have too often conspired well.” Pair with: our own Nick Ripatrazone on coming to writing from outside the humanities.
Appearing Elsewhere: VQR Young Reviewers Contest winner and Millions contributor Emily drops by the NBCC blog to tell them what she’s been reading.The NY Times fleshes out some of the details of Google’s digitizing agreement with publishers and authors, including getting into some of the numbers involved. We explained the importance of the deal last year.At Jacket Copy Carolyn Kellogg gets Sarah Weinman to discuss the secrets behind her incredible speed-reading ability. (462 books in 2008!)Carolyn also recently highlighted all the great literary magazines that supplied the featured stories in last year’s “best of” fiction anthologies, as well as the runners up.80 years after the last one, a new Winnie the Pooh book is on its way.A timely and topical list: the Top 10 green books of 2008For the multi-tasker (or perhaps the really lazy): the book holder bracelet.”Had I an atheist friend who asked, ‘Can you tell me please what this religion business is all about, not as some metaphysical hypothesis or historical phenomenon, but what it really means to be religious?’ I might hand him or her a copy of Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead. ‘Read this,’ I’d say, ‘and it will give you a pretty good idea.'”For sports fans: Bill James on why statisticians should boycott the BCS.That perilous question: why blog?Vice did a fiction issue.David Brooks discusses some of the best long-form journalism of 2008 (with links!)The outgoing president’s surprising reading list.The Hype Machine’s impressive top albums of 2008 project.Wikipedia find of the week: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffaloA consideration of poet Jack Spicer.With apologies to William Carlos Williams, A poem for Blago.New short fiction from Horacio Castellanos Moya, author of Senselessness (via Scott)Jonathan Franzen on the Social Novel (via OUP blog)
“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.
The Washington Post discusses the literary pedigree of the town where I was born, went to college, and got married.A good review of Jonathan Lethem’s new collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist in the New York Observer.Got a nice note from Ulrich Baer, editor and translator of a new book put out by the Modern Library called The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke. Sound interesting. Have a look.Why we blog.
Not long after James Lasdun released his new book, Give Me Everything You Have, Jessica Freeman-Slade reviewed it for The Millions. Now, in the latest issue of the LRB, Nick Richardson offers his own take. (You could also check out our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun.)