What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
Michael Seidlinger writes on how consciousness occurs online. As he puts it, “We have all become Sisyphus, pushing our rocks up a hill littered with hyperlinks and tweets, perpetually, futilely, refreshing the page of existence.” Pair with this Millions piece on the best of literary Twitter.
"I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air... But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read." Alice Munro writes about A Child's History of England, the first book she ever read.
Recommended Reading: Anne Barngrover's poem "My Lover Vows to Follow Me Even after He Leaves Me" at Paper Darts. "If trust is to hem your promises/into my jacket lining like folded dollars during/an ice storm, then I have been trusting all my life."
Could it be for the best that Lisbeth Salander outlived her creator? Do writers own the rights to their own superstar characters, or do the rights belong to the readers? These questions and more are explored in a fascinating essay from The Atlantic. Here’s a Millions piece in which Pippi Longstocking is touted as Salander’s literary forebear.