On July 8th 1618, Ben Jonson set out walking from London. Over the next few months, he traveled 400 miles on foot until he reached Edinburgh on September 5th. To commemorate the epic voyage, a team of researchers is re-enacting the walk online by updating a dedicated blog, Twitter page, and Facebook profile with a series of posts corresponding to dates, locations and occurrences Jonson experienced along the way. All this sounds grand enough, but I’ll be really impressed when somebody truly re-enacts Jonson’s mock-epic poem about paddling London’s disgusting Fleet Ditch: “On The Famous Voyage.”
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
Hot new online magazine Full Stop has chosen The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books as its inaugural book club selection. The discussion will be happening all this week.