If you’re like me, you probably assumed you’d never read the phrase “George Saunders in O, the Oprah Magazine”, but this is where his latest piece has turned up. As part of a creative way of presenting a list of books to read, the author imagines what reading material he’d give to an alien who wants to know what it’s like to be human. For more on his work, go read our own Elizabeth Minkel on his legacy and recent collection.
Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry in a house in Amherst. Mark Twain wrote many of his best works on his estate in Connecticut. And Geoffrey Chaucer, it turns out, wrote in a cramped bachelor pad, nestled in the east side of the wall surrounding London. In The Spectator, a reading of Paul Strohm’s Chaucer’s Tale, which describes a pivotal year in the poet’s life.
“Soldiers eat beef teriyaki and chicken cavatelli M.R.E.s in a war zone where ‘armored ruins’ line the roads, ‘charred corpses scattered in among the blasted metal’; and sniper fire and I.E.D. ambushes are a constant threat: ‘the chaos out there, the crazy Arabic writing and abu-jabba jabber, the lawless traffic, the hidden danger and buzz and stray bullets and death looming from every overpass.'” Michiko Kakutani reviews Roy Scranton’s War Porn for The New York Times. Here’s an old review from The Millions that shares a bit of Scranton’s lingering sentiment regarding the war.
Word is there have been sightings of the book I co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books in the wild, though it’s officially due in March. You can keep up on all the news about the book, including events and links to excerpts on the book’s new Facebook page.
Writers finally have a justification for their $4.00 latte habit. Even though coffee might be a detriment to imagination, the whirring of blenders and cafe chatter can boost creativity. If you want the inspiration jolt without the java, listen to Coffitivity’s recording of cafe ambient noise.
We’d been planning to brush up on our French, Swahili, and Klingon this summer, but a new contender might just grab us away. You can now learn to speak Dothraki – a fictional tongue from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series and the hit TV show Game of Thrones – with this $18 software course. Next: High Valyrian?