Wes Anderson really likes trains, and not just any trains — the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is a big fan of riding on Amtrak. “It’s one thing to be stuck together for the long haul to New Zealand in the upper deck of a 747 for 16 hours,” he told a writer for the company’ s blog, “but it’s an altogether different matter to hit the dining car three meals a day for two and a half days running onboard the Southwest Chief.” This may be a good time to read our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on writers and trains.
“On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out.” Guernica interviews Leslie Jamison and Ryan Spencer for their new collaboration, Such Mean Estate.
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.
A while back, I pointed readers to Ayn Rand’s version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, helpfully published by The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg. It satisfied those of you who never understood why Harry didn’t slough off his legions of parasitic friends. Now, The Toast brings us the conclusion to the series, in which Harry’s labors bring him the rewards he deserves. Sample quote: “I have earned the Elder Wand through my own achievements.”