Recommended Reading: Kevin Brockmeier’s essay “Dead Last Is a Kind of Second Place” at The Georgia Review. “Someone at school has been stealing people’s lunches from their lockers—including, for the fifth time now, his. He needs a new plan, since obviously the potato chips didn’t work.” For more Brockmeier, check out our review of his novel The Illumination.
“Like actual endangered species, independent bookshops induce a fiercely protective kind of love; paradoxically, it’s often their precarity that saves them.” The Guardian profiles Philippe Ungar and Franck Bohbot, the men behind “We Are New York Indie Booksellers,” which features the 50 remaining indies in and around Manhattan. (Pair with: Janet Potter‘s history of bookstore love).
Looks like our robot overlord is going to be a 13-year-old boy: the Turing Test has been passed for the first time by a bot simulating a preteen, making history for artificial intelligence research and teenagers alike. “Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything,” researchers explained.
To celebrate the release of Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine, the Cabinet editors put their own magazine on trial, filling up an NYPL auditorium with academics and writers who, perhaps inevitably, began to compete in a kind of irrelevance-off. Which begs the question, answered well by The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones in Bookforum: how relevant to the wider culture is a magazine like Cabinet, anyway?
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”
“I HAVE A FLOWER. OHO. SUDDENLY WE’RE NOT SO SKEPTICAL, ARE WE?” I know it’s 2016 and he’s been dead for almost two hundred years now, but these otherwise inexplicable texts from Samuel Coleridge (by way of Mallory Ortberg at The Toast) are hilarious and totally believable. Some earlier hits include texts from Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.