Here’s an odd scenario straight out of a Thomas Pynchon plotline: in the course of fact-checking a review of Pynchon’s new novel, Alex Yuhas found himself emailing a person known only as “The Great Quail.”
In the late 1860s, James Crichton-Browne, director of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, gave Charles Darwin a collection of photographic portraits depicting the “afflicted and insane.” What followed was a six-year relationship in which both men corresponded about “the physical manifestations of natural selection.”
Andrew Ervin interviewed Matt Bell for Tin House. Bell’s forthcoming novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods will come out this summer. (Excerpt) It’s a book that was at least partially enhanced by Bell’s sense of “competition … of a useful kind” with his friend Robert Kloss. “I was so blown away [by Alligators of Abraham],” Bell admits, “that I can remember having to resist putting down his first novel to go make mine better.”
Recommended reading: Sean Singer reviews Poetry of Witness for The Rumpus and calls for readers to see “poems as ethical and political act[s] in the face of extremity.” Pair with selections from editor Carolyn Forché‘s essay on 20th century poetry of witness.
“Fantasy is a tool of the storyteller. It is a way of talking about things that are not, and cannot be, literally true. It is a way of making our metaphors concrete, and it shades into myth in one direction, allegory in another.” Neil Gaiman reviews Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Buried Giant for the New York Times Book Review and considers the power, and risks, of fantasy. Pair with Ishiguro’s talk with The Telegraph about the 10 years since the publication of Never Let Me Go.
Despite what we might think, smartphones aren’t destroying good reading habits. Rather, smartphones are enabling access to books in developing countries, according to a new study. They allow readers to find books in remote parts of the world without libraries and at a cheaper price.
Legally sampling songs on a hit record is astoundingly expensive. As Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola note in Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Licensing, the Beastie Boys would have lost $19.8 million dollars because of Paul’s Boutique. (via BoingBoing)