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.
The Rake takes note of the New Yorker’s particularly dark reading of Goodnight Moon.Iain Hollingshead gamely responds to being awarded the “Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award” for his debut novel Twentysomething, which included such turns of phrase as “everything is pure white as we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks.”With a few celebs getting in trouble for racist outbursts this year Malcolm Gladwell (ever thoughtful) comes up with a way to figure out who’s really being offensive and who’s just dumb.Maud points to a new blog from one of my favorite publishers, NYRB Press.Dozens of year end-lists floating around here and elsewhere, but I always take special note of Jonathan Yardley’s year-end column because it is always thoughtful and sometimes surprising.To do (as soon as I have the time): listen to the Bat Segundo Show that features Edward P. Jones.
Lots of diet books among the new releases these days (in preparation for the post-holiday food guilt one assumes), but readers will also find a vibrant new “biography-in-collage” out this week, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss.
If you read Lydia Kiesling’s recent piece about Granta’s Young British Novelists and thought to yourself, “That John Freeman guy sounds like a grand ol’ chap, but I think I could do his job better,” then I have two things to say: 1) That’s kind of a rude thing to think to yourself. And 2) You’re in luck, I guess, because he’s in need of a replacement.
French-Canadian writers are in an odd place when it comes to Canadian literature. By the official definition of CanLit, they’re part of the canon, yet because of the Quebecois language barrier, they maintain a certain distance from the literature of English Canada. At Page-Turner, Pasha Malla writes about their odd identity. You could also read Andrew Saikali on Canadian novellas.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein recommends a couple of self-help books to one reader in this week’s mail blog. “Let your self-help freak flag fly!” he writes. Such might put you in esteemed company. As Maria Bustillos pointed out in her poignant investigation for The Awl, David Foster Wallace treasured many self help books.