Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”
There are three kinds of readers of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest: those who feel some niggling guilt about that brick on their bookshelf, those who’ve read it (proudly) but secretly may have no idea what happened in that tangled ending, and the people responsible for this excellent infographic. (Complement with cached commentary at Infinite Summer and a guide to the geography of Wallace’s Boston.)
This is really happening: In February, an IBM-programmed computer will take on former champions (including Ken Jennings) in three games of Jeopardy. (via)
The National Rifle Association is featuring a series of reimagined fairy tales on their website. The only difference? Way more guns. In the debut story, Hansel and Gretel don’t bemoan their lack of food since they had been taught from birth to hunt with guns for sustenance. No, it’s not yet April Fools’ Day.
The Canadian writer Mavis Gallant passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 91. A frequent New Yorker contributor, Gallant published two novels and ten volumes of short fiction in her lifetime, one of which, Home Truths, won the Governor General’s Award. The Globe and Mail’s obituary describes her as having “a journalist’s nose, a cinematographer’s eye and a novelist’s imagination.” (Andrew Saikali wrote about Gallant for The Millions back in 2008.)