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.)
"And journalists, the ones who do it for a living, will continue to have their faith in the profession shaken, as they panic and let their own standards slip in order not to be embarrassed by Reddit at 2:43 in the morning. But unlike high-frequency traders, Internet entrepreneurs, and online vigilantes, journalists have a stake in those standards, which are the only reason for having professionals do the job." Fast news, Twitter, and journalism in the digital age.
"Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die." Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.
In a big reveal to devout fans like me, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening finally copped to the fictional Springfield's real-life inspiration: Springfield, Oregon. Of course this matter has been widely pondered before, and was perhaps even answered by Paul Nelson and his cohorts at SNPP.com.
Stay up until 4am reading that new release? Dread your early alarm after a night spent with a book? Maybe you're just on Flaubert's schedule. Or, if you find it easy to fall asleep before midnight and enjoy early mornings, perhaps you're running on Victor Hugo time. New York Magazine has compiled an infographic of the sleeping habits of geniuses, and the good news is that no matter when you fall asleep and wake up, someone brilliant has more or less kept your same schedule. So take heart, late-night readers and early risers. We're all in good company.
What is the function of the art critic, anyway? According to Barry Schwabsky at The Nation, it is not "making or breaking" an artist, but rather "opening up perspectives without ... belaboring them." For the critically minded among you, here's a Millions review of A.O. Scott's new book Better Living Through Criticism.
The fine folks at Norton have made all of Patricia Highsmith's books available in eBook format, and to celebrate the move, they've crafted a website dedicated to the author's work. Choose Your Highsmith features a recommendation engine while will instantly pick a Highsmith book to match your selected criteria. There's also a great video in which Alison Bechdel, Robert Weil (Highsmith's editor at Norton), Joan Schenkar (Highsmith's biographer), and Terry Castle share their love for the author of the Mr. Ripley series.