Half-meme, half-myth, ‘Slender Man’ came to us from the same internet that brought LOLcat, doge, and Rule 34. After the surreal stabbing of a 12-year-old girl by two other children claiming they were acting on his behalf, this particular story has taken on a tragic resonance. In The Semiotic Review, Jeffrey Tolbert argues that Slender Man took hold because of the documentary nature of internet ‘evidence’. As one Something Awful blogger put it, “Even if we don’t really believe in [Slender Man], we are cutting him out and sewing him together. We’re stuffing him with nightmares and unspoken fears. And what happens when the pictures are no longer Photoshops?” Very meta–and very scary, all over again.
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
This past week at the LBC was a lot of fun. We discussed the book I nominated, The Cottagers by Marshall Klimasewiski. If you missed it, you should check it out, particularly Friday’s podcast which includes an appearance by yours truly.In other podcast news, Ed, who is an accomplished podcaster, tried and failed to interview Marisha Pessl, author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, for his show. Callie also had some thoughts on Pessl, as did CAAF.Fresh off of declaring that the typical litblogger is “some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute,” Richard Ford will see his Bascombe trilogy turned into an HBO mini-series (via Scott). Litblogger Noah gave Ford’s Lay of the Land a good review last year, but for all Ford knows, Noah was writing from here.Scott looks at Dave Eggers’ What is the What and ponders how atrocity is portrayed in fiction.
Speaking to Parul Sehgal, recent Booker and National Book Award finalist Jhumpa Lahiri confesses that in order to write, she must begin from “a place where I feel—and need to feel—completely alone and anonymous.” The Lowland author elaborates that the act of writing is “such an intimate thing; I can’t do it in front of other people. It’s a rich dimension in one’s head – to access it, the noise has to be shut off. And there is a lot of noise in the world.”
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)