What makes a sentence sad? At The Missouri Review blog, Aaron Gilbreath explores just why certain sentences are depressing — from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner to James Joyce’s “Eveline.” “Their emotional impact doesn’t stem solely from the combination of words. The impact often results from the circumstances of readers’ lives.” Pair with: Sam Martone’s metafictional short story about his grandmothers’ deaths, “A Second Attempt,” at Pithead Chapel.
“Facing the daily avalanche of stories about outrageous corruption, writing about timely political issues can often feel pointless. It can be easy to lose faith in the creative process.” For LitHub, an essay by Tom McAllister on writing about politically-charged traumas with humanity and his new novel, How to Be Safe. Pair with: our 2010 interview with McAllister.
Thanks to recent advancements in digital scanning technology, it looks like the Herculaneum scrolls will be made legible after some two thousand years. The new technique allows for close study of the scrolls without causing irreparable damage to the papyrus via exposure to the moisture in the air, an issue which had dogged scholars for centuries. If the impermanence and tenuousness of writing is more your speed, here’s a bit on Twitter, instead.
Feel like something’s off with a person you follow on Twitter? They could be time travelers from the future. In The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes about a new study, conducted by two physicists, that sought to find social media users with an uncanny knowledge of future events. “It’s not crazy, and yet it feels crazy when you think about it,” says The Hidden Reality author and Columbia professor Brian Greene. You could also take a look at our own journey to the early days of literary Twitter.
“If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read the book. This is how we change the world: we grab hold of it. We change ourselves.” April 30th is Independent Bookstore Day. Celebrate early with a revisit to this 2012 essay by Ann Patchett on the resilience of the indie bookstore. Here’s an interview with Janet Geddis, founder of Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA, on deciding to become a bookseller.