Recommended Reading: Bret Anthony Johnston on (not) writing what you know. His essay is an excerpt of Writer’s Notebook II, published by the folks at Tin House. (Related: we published Harper’s editor Christopher Beha’s essay in the book last year.)
It can be hard to sell any home, but what if you’re trying to unload the site of a cult’s mass suicide, or a brutal celebrity stabbing? How do you determine a price people might pay for such “stigmatized properties?” It’s simple, really. You call Randall Bell.
“For about 15 years, every time I had a really good dance party that went late, with people lolling around drunk and exhausted, at about 2 a.m., I would hand out paper and ask everyone to draw a vomiting cat. . . . I ended up with an incredibly thick file of drawings, some by people who went on to be published cartoonists and writers.” The New York Times reports that (Year in Reading alum) Jonathan Lethem has sold his papers to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, a trove that includes comic books, manuscript drafts, notes, letters, and yes, drawings of vomiting cats. You can read our review of Lethem's Dissident Gardens, which may or may not feature hairballs in a crucial plot point, here.
The book David Foster Wallace co-authored with Mark Costello about the pair’s “uncomfortable, somewhat furtive, and distinctively white enthusiasm for a certain music called rap/hip-hop” will be re-released in the US next Tuesday. UK readers look like they’re going to get a reissue of the book on their shelves as well.
"Post-truth" has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert's "truthiness" was funny.