What exactly happens to our brains when we laugh? Richard Restak (of The American Scholar) investigates.
Máirtín Ó Cadhain is probably the most famous Irish writer you haven’t heard of, if only because he wrote all his masterworks in Irish rather than English. His best novel, Cre na Cille, has a simple and arresting premise: a town in Connemara has a graveyard in which the dead can speak. In The Guardian, Kevin Barry (who we interviewed) reads the novel for the first time.
It doesn’t get much better than James Wood on Joy Williams: “Nothing is stranger (and funnier) in Williams’s work than her details. Like her forms, they only resemble conventional realist details, an atmosphere perhaps encouraged by her flat, functional sentences (“They danced. Sam had quite a bit to drink”). The details are frequently surreal, magical, hallucinogenic, delivered in a cool, dispassionate, routine manner.”
Good Books is an online book retailer that donates all of its proceeds to Oxfam. It’s also a big fan of trippy literary homage. In a collaboration with two creative studios, and without consulting the Hunter S. Thompson or Franz Kafka estates, the group’s released a promo that draws on some of the most “out-there” elements of both writers.
It’s good to see James Wood covering Richard Price in The New Yorker; and even better to hear Price himself on Fresh Air.And also from The New Yorker, may we recommend Dan Chiasson’s wonderful essay on Frank O’Hara?Luc Sante’s blog pretty much has to be good.Derek, the guy who got both Max and Garth started blogging in the first place, is taking part in a big group blog at the Washington Post covering the Nationals baseball team and its new stadium.With features like this reconsideration of The Gnostic Gospels, the New York Sun is quietly building what may be the country’s best books section.”Growing Up Radical: An Interview with Peter Carey” (via scott)”On Magic Feelism” – n+1 considers Kevin Brockmeier’s The View from the Seventh LayerBoris Kachka profiles Jhumpa Lahiri in New YorkSurreal: “Garfield” minus Garfield. Alternatively, “Garfield” without Garfield’s thought bubbles.Nobody knows if the Kindle is a hit, AP says, but something is happening.A book graveyard in Russia.Languagehat’s specialty: a thoroughly edifying investigation of a phrase pulled out of thin air.American Book Review has developed their own lists of 100 Best Last Lines from Novels (PDF) and 100 Best First Lines from NovelsThe Boston Globe argues that Bringing Down the House, the basis for the new movie 21, is not a work of nonfiction.
In 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky met Charles Dickens… Or did he? In a thoroughly researched piece for the Times Literary Supplement, Eric Naiman tells the thrilling story of how one – or two? or several? – hoaxers managed to dupe biographers, New York Times reviewers, London Review of Books editors as well as readers of numerous scholarly publications. Long story short: be wary of ostentatious “nipple” references.
“Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself.” Electric Literature‘s Jason Diamond argues 2014 was “The Year of the Essay,” and when we think over the collections published this year – The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others – it’s hard to disagree.