Frank McNally investigates the “dark forces at work somewhere” that prevent Flann O’Brien from being honored with a Dublin bridge. Perhaps we should all start a grassroots campaign to send Mark O’Connell’s O’Brien tribute to Irish civil engineers.
In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn’t a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
We’d been planning to brush up on our French, Swahili, and Klingon this summer, but a new contender might just grab us away. You can now learn to speak Dothraki – a fictional tongue from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series and the hit TV show Game of Thrones – with this $18 software course. Next: High Valyrian?
Amazon’s response to the iPad? The pricetag for a Kindle has just dropped to $189.
Interested in writing a bestseller? You may want to check out Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers‘ newest book, The Bestseller Code. Or maybe not: “At times, it seems like Archer and Jockers are trying to retrofit a closed system. They found that best-sellers have lots of contractions—the better, they explain, to mimic contemporary speech—and exclamation points only rarely … They conclude that best-sellers consist of ‘shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words,’ and that best-selling characters ‘make things happen.’ Active verbs predict best-sellers better than passive verbs. ‘Hesitation doesn’t keep pages turning,’ Archer and Jockers decide. After all that work, in other words, the algorithm ends up confirming the uncontested tenets of craft and style.”
There’s a rumor circulating that Noah Baumbach may direct 20th Century Fox’s film adaption of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Richardand Florence Atwater‘s beloved 1938 children’s story about a man whose wistful obsession with penguins comes home to roost. There are also rumors that Ben Stiller may head the cast as Mr. Popper.