As Teju Cole demonstrated with his real-time ghazals (one, two, and three) this past week, Twitter is a medium ripe for linguistic experimentation. And far from being the exclusive domain of human beings, the social network can also produce “found poetry” at the behest of computer programs – a practice I recently wrote about for The Bygone Bureau. But who’s behind these Twitter bots? Over at The Boston Globe, they check in with Darius Kazemi, the 30-year-old programmer who’s made some of the most-loved accounts out there.
Riverhead Books makes an amusing pun in a new fundraiser in which individuals can purchase 3D heads of Riverhead authors — Marlon James, Khaled Hosseini, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lauren Groff, Nick Hornby and more. Proceeds will go to the nonprofit Libraries Without Borders, which supports migrant and refugee populations in Europe by making books and learning materials accessible in multiple languages.
This year’s Tournament of Books comes to an end today, after nearly a month of analyses, debates and thoughtful arguments. In the final round, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life squares off with James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, both of which are, in Héctor Tobar’s words, “unorthodox, historical novels.” Now that the verdicts are in, the only question is: who won? (You could also read the quarterfinal judged by our own Lydia Kiesling.)
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”