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.
Morrisey, Lauren Groff, and Erica Jong are among the finalists for the 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award. The award is presented annually by the British magazine Literary Review in an attempt to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them.” Past winners include Norman Mailer and John Updike (the sole recipient of a prestigious lifetime achievement award).
Time to dust off the old John Irving Recurring Themes Matrix because his new book In One Person is out today. Also out are Home by America’s last Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s hotly anticipated sequel to Booker- and Rooster-winning Wolf Hall. Also out is I Am a Pole, Stephen Colbert’s “children’s book” that was inspired by an epic visit from Maurice Sendak. Out in paperback is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was more than just a Dr. Seuss book but a reality for the writer. Seuss was as fond of hats as he was rhyming and now part of his chapeau collection will be touring the U.S. 26 of his hats will stop in Atlanta, New Orleans, South Lake Tahoe, Tampa, Midlothian, and Northampton. For more Seuss, read our essay on censorship of The Lorax.
“Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…” Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.