Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
Here are a couple Halloween-related essays from the good people at The Literary Hub: This fascinating literary history of witches by Jess Bergman, and this piece by Tobias Carroll on non-fiction writers crossing the supernatural line between fantasy and reality.
Want to be as brilliant as Jonathan Swift? Try reading Latin for ten hours a day. As this New Statesman review of Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World makes clear, the satirist went through a backbreaking classics regimen at Kilkenny College in Ireland. (There’s also the fact that he wrote constant letters to a sickly female confidante.)
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”
The music video for “Sweater” by Belgian indie outfit Willow relies on an impressive balance of timing, treadmill coordination, projection, and camera-work. A lot of ground is covered in a single room. It’s positively crazy. You might even say it’s virtual insanity. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)