“What’s the kindest thing you almost did?” You’ll find this sentence by Jonathan Safran Foer on a Chipotle cup next time you eat a burrito there. The fast food restaurant will feature the short stories five authors, including Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis, on its cups, and unlike guacamole, they won’t cost extra. Unsurprisingly, Cormac McCarthy didn’t make a cup.
"What made The Great Gatsby so great? Does everyone think he’s that great? Why?" Just in time for the back-to-school rush: essay questions from a teacher who didn't finish any of the required reading (a.k.a. McSweeney's).
It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
From Lev Grossman’s blog, “A Brief Taxonomy of Writers”: “As far as I can tell there are two kinds of fiction writers: those who read no fiction while they write, and those who constantly read fiction while they write. Let’s have cute names for them. We’ll call them Soloists and Thieves."
In The Age of The Crisis of Man, a new book by n + 1 co-founder and editor Mark Greif, the author examines the life and death of the concept of “man,” aka a unified humankind that could be said to suffer from particular conflicts. It was born in the thirties, with the rise of Fascism, but persisted for decades, eventually giving way to a more diversified view of humanity. In Tablet, Adam Kirsch dives into Greif’s arguments.
This week, David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas and the forthcoming The Bone Clocks) is releasing a new short story over 280 tweets (which you can read here). Form follows content, he explains, since his narrator is a teenager high on his mother's Valium. Mitchell joins good company: Teju Cole, Junot Diaz, and other notables have tried their hand with this strange new form. Pair with: a stroll down memory lane with some beloved authors' very first tweets and their best.
Fox Books has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, The Onion reported. But in reality, Barnes & Noble is facing some big problems, which inspired Michael Agger to write a thank you note to the troubled bookstore. "Going to Barnes & Noble became a Saturday afternoon. It was as if a small liberal-arts college had been plunked down into a farm field."