At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
Recommended Reading: These fifteen short texts in search of Hilla Becher, photographer and life/artistic partner of Bernd Becher: “One of the creations of her and Bernd’s artistic partnership was the seemingly perfect fusion of their visions. ‘No, there is no division of labor,’ they told an interviewer in 1989, in a conversation that pointedly doesn’t designate which of them is speaking. ‘Outsiders cannot tell who has taken a particular photo and we also often forget ourselves. It simply is not important.'”
“We tether ourselves to others as a path not taken, a dream unfulfilled. A lesson unlearned, a responsibility unmet. We mourn idols as ourselves because even that unachieved road must end.” Paul Taunton has written a heartfelt Hazlitt essay on Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford, and passionate idolatry. Exley’s cult favorite A Fan’s Notes, published in 1988, is a fictional memoir that centers on a quasi-obsession with Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of eighty-four.
“We editors told ourselves the naked women were merely carnival barkers: they got an audience into the tent, but we kept them with the content.” In the Guardian, Playboy‘s former fiction editor Amy Grace Loyd reveals what it was like to work at the magazine and how she commissioned work from writers like Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz. Read our review of Loyd’s debut novel, The Affairs of Others.
The New York Times looks at new technological efforts to make book signings work in the age of the ebook. One idea is an e-reader add-on that lets the reader snap a photo with the author, which the author can then sign with a “digital stylus.” The photo is meant to make its way to Twitter and Facebook, of course. “Bragging potential? Endless,” says the Times. Authors: get ready to say “cheese”?
The Financial Times takes a detailed look at the Financial Computing Centre, home of future quants, where Michael Galas is working to build “a hedge fund without employees” and a crop of PhD candidates are using social media to predict the markets. Could these algorithms one day spill beyond finance, and influence education or social sciences?
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.