Benjamin Anastas has bid goodbye to the Twitter Village, and he thinks more writers should do the same. “There is a longing built into our online lives that can lead us to healthy attachments with multiple partners, a kind of polyamory of the mind, but it can also encourage the furtive transmission of waxed-chest photos and cock-shots,” he writes. “These are extreme examples of the kind of lonely misfires that Twitter allows, but I felt the temptation to seek comfort from my Twitter feed often enough to realize that it was only a matter of time before I did something embarrassing.”
Perhaps the best mashup of highbrow and lowbrow to grace the cultural ether in recent years is this innovative scratch-and-sniff guide to becoming a wine expert. The book, which is exactly what you think it is, declares that “not all oaks are created equal” and includes a diagram of “all the smells in the world.” (Related: literary tourism at Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern.)
For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.
“It is a darker book, I don’t deny that, but that’s the story that came to me and wanted to be told.” Seventeen years after Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy ended, the writer is releasing La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Pullman also said the second volume of the trilogy of already complete, according to The Guardian. Check out our own Janet Potter on grief, books, and His Dark Materials.
The Amherst College Archives have discovered what could be the second photograph in existence of Emily Dickinson.
Most institutions that become an essential part of a local culture build up a collection of curios over the years. They collect as much evidence as they can of their proximity to major events. At the New York Public Library, for example, you can find a letter opener whose handle is made from the paw of Charles Dickens’s dead cat. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Literary fiction is falling apart, but it might be for the best, Ted Gioia writes. In his essay, he explores the history of the fragmented novel (or the polyphonic novel as we’ve written about before) from Winesburg, Ohio to A Visit From the Goon Squad and fittingly, he does it in fragments.