Edinburgh’s latest whodunnit wasn’t written by Ian Rankin. The Scottish capital’s mysterious book sculptor has struck again. Last summer, she started anonymously leaving paper sculptures at literary locations around the city to promote free access to libraries, museums, and galleries. The latest artwork arrived at the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust and includes paper feather wings, a safety helmet, and goggles “to provide some protection throughout journey.”
“Born Guan Moye, he chose his pen name—“Don’t Talk”—to honor his mother’s caution against talking too much and in sardonic recognition of his failure to heed her warning. Yet I have been struck by his quiet and unassuming presence at literary conferences in Beijing, where he offered kind encouragement in private meetings but evinced a shy persona in public.” On the contradictions of last year’s Nobel laureate, Mo Yan.
Over at The Point, Spencer McAvoy writes about the language and vision of Joy Williams, a writer who “instead of drawing boundaries between us and whatever Other, posits language as an experience of self-limitedness.” Williams’s new collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
Is just me, or has The New Yorker been resurgent the last few weeks? In addition to the David Grann piece mentioned below, we've gotten: Bloomberg, diving, James Wood's most cogent essay to date on atheism and belief, and a F-B-P triple play. (That's Friend to Bilger to Paumgarten, for those keeping score at home.) And I read the fiction for five issues in a row - a personal best. I know they assemble these things far in advance, but it still feels like the Ian Frazier "Siberia" two-parter, eight years in the making, started some kind of conflagration of awesomeness. Thoughts?
Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about "the evolution of the novel.")
"If you can get some brilliant artists to make a musical about your childhood, I highly recommend it. It's very cathartic." Recent MacArthur fellow Alison Bechdel's hugely successful graphic memoir, Fun Home, has been adapted into a Broadway musical, and now she's written a coda to the book that looks at what the musical has meant to her and what it could have meant to her parents. Pair with our interview with Bechdel here.