“The complexity of texts students are being assigned to read has declined by about three grade levels over the past 100 years,” says Eric Stickney, the educational research director for Renaissance Learning.
Get your Bloomsday fix with our James Joyce quiz. Or you can celebrate with Emily M. Keeler, The Atlantic, a BBC dramatization, and Colm Tóibín. You can also read an excerpt from Ulysses over at Berfrois. Plus there’s a ‘Ulysses Seen‘ smartphone app (which is viewable online).
“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”
The New Yorker’s book blog continues to host “Questioningly,” a so-called Twitter game show. The most recent installment featured the imagined Facebook status updates of literary figures, and was hosted by Ben Greenman. Who, might I add, is on a roll these days over at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency too.
“I am nostalgic for letters. There’s a craft that’s been lost in expressing some kind of desire or passion or bodily experience for someone else.” From James Joyce to Frida Kahlo, The Guardian collects bits of great artists’ erotic missives to one another. And speaking of literary love letters, how about Nicholson Baker‘s Vox [ed. note: it makes a great Valentine’s Day gift]?