Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch performed a haunting interpretation of “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats, and the actor has also recently signed on to play Hamlet on the London stage in autumn 2014. This raises the question: is Cumberbatch the British James Franco?
Recommended (Heavy) Reading: A mind-bending interview with Kathinka Evers at 3:AM Magazine on the increasingly important field of "neuroethics." Neuroethics is, in essence, "the study of the questions that arise when scientific findings about the brain are carried into philosophical analyses, medical practice, legal interpretations, health and social policy." Welcome to the 21st century.
Peek inside a part of the DIY publishing world: zines. “Before the Internet democratized media, self-publishing was one of few ways for ordinary people to record and share with a wider audience. Zines on old taboos like sexual orientation could provide a staticky connection to a community of others with nonstandard identities in an age before chat rooms and message boards and -- perhaps most importantly -- simple ways to anonymize yourself.”
Morrisey, Lauren Groff, and Erica Jong are among the finalists for the 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award. The award is presented annually by the British magazine Literary Review in an attempt to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them.” Past winners include Norman Mailer and John Updike (the sole recipient of a prestigious lifetime achievement award).
More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.
You might have heard that a new Shirley Jackson book appeared on shelves this week. A collection of previously unpublished work, Let Me Tell You was published by Penguin Random House, which happens to be the place where Benjamin Dreyer, a lifelong Shirley Jackson fan, works as a copy chief and managing editor. At The Toast, he describes how it felt to edit his favorite writer.
“Too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual’s desires, it’s a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly.” The Guardian reviews Year in Reading Alumnus Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus. Compare and contrast with our review of the novel.