Tom McCormack is midway through a three-part series on internet artwork, but not the kind involving Photoshop and GIFs. After exploring the history and usage of emoticons in part one of his series, McCormack traces the roots of ASCII artwork back to Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1918 book Calligrammes. Stay tuned for the conclusion soon: a look at the history of emoji.
The New York Times recently asked Jennifer Szalai and Mohsin Hamid why there isn’t a Great American Novel written by a woman? Both writers concluded that there is no such thing as the Great American Novel. “But if the idea of the Great American Novel is blinding us to exquisite fiction written by women, then perhaps its harm is exceeding its usefulness,” Hamid wrote. We think that’s a bit of a cop out. But a few women showed up on our list of the Greatest American Novels.
The Oxford American has made True Grit author Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” available online for the first time. The piece first appeared in an OA issue from 2003, and it’s also available in Escape Velocity, but you should still read it because it’s Charles Portis, damn it, and you’ve only one life to live in this world. (Related: Hobart just published their “Hotel Culture” issue, which is also worth your time.)
Perhaps inspired by the news, first reported a few years ago, that mad scientists in the Indian army plan to weaponize superhot chilis, Lauren Collins ventures bravely into the world of extreme heat. As a warning to readers who fancy themselves tough, she quotes a doctor who makes clear that these peppers aren’t just hot — they’re lethal.