Marina Warner reviews the “enigmatic and brief” and somewhat disturbing “The Professor and the Siren” for The Paris Review. As luck would have it, our own Sonya Chung reviewed the same story for The Millions.
Last weekend marked the debut of Giphy, a new search engine for animated GIFs. Of course, I’m not willing to give a verdict on its utility just yet – the database doesn’t seem to list my three favorite GIFs of all time: therapist lion, slow motion corgis, and Kermit meets Christian.
This September, OR Books will publish Tales of Two Cities, an anthology of short fiction focused on economic inequality in New York City. Among its contributors are some familiar names: Junot Díaz, Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Téa Obreht, Zadie Smith, and Teju Cole. The volume will also be illustrated by Molly Crabapple, whose Occupy Wall Street portraits earned critical acclaim in 2012.
What if Hamlet were a punk who skateboarded over Ophelia? At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg imagines Shakespeare’s Hamlet with a teenage dirtbag cast complete with hilarious illustrations by Matt Lubchansky. “im going to the cemetery to touch skulls.” We hope this becomes a regular series.
Kudos to Claire Vaye Watkins for taking home the Dylan Thomas Prize! Worth £30,000, the prize went to Watkins because, in the words of of the chair of the judging panel, she possesses “some of Dylan Thomas’s extraordinary skill in the short story form.” (Read more about Watkins’s work in Geoff Mak’s review of her 2012 book Battleborn.)
“It’s not often that I find myself brandishing my copy and yelling, ‘This book.This book! at my husband, but I had that pleasant, awed, envy-inducing reaction.” We obviously love a good end-of-year reading roundup, and BOMB Magazine has “Looking Back on 2016” with entries from Jonathan Lethem, Will Chancellor, and other artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.
Writing in the London Review of Books (Reg. Req.), Evgeny Morozov clued me onto how “scientists at UCLA – with funding from the Chinese government – have built an ‘image to text’ system that automatically produces text summaries of what is taking place in captured video.” A similar technology was also developed by NYU student Matt Richardson, whose “descriptive camera” can “automatically describe the scene in a camera’s viewfinder, which, when the image was uploaded, would make it easier to find.” Meanwhile one Twitter is describing typical Instagram shots in 140 characters or fewer.
The Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Bookstores is only a week away. Get all the details and RSVP.Little Dorrit is must-see-TV in the Packer household.For those considering undertaking Infinite Jest, we recommend Slate’s Audio Book Club discussion.Meanwhile, in the first installment of New York Magazine’s new “Reading Room” feature, participants get, er… wet.”‘I never wanted to write this book,'” [Alec Baldwin] tells us… ‘It was also a book I never wanted to read, but here we are, Alec and I, making the best of a bad situation.'”The influence of the late J.G. Ballard, who died this week, reached from Jonathan Lethem to Thom Yorke.What’s Bret Easton Ellis up to? Not much, apparently.An inspired blog feature collects one-star Amazon reviews of the classics (via HTMLGIANT).In praise of Peter Handke and A.J. Liebling.Senator Arlen Specter realizes that there’s no way to endear yourself to Republican primary voters like writing for The New York Review of Books.William H. Gass goes for baroque. (via The Complete Review)Some small presses are trying out a subscription model.The earliest known dust jacket for a book has been found. (via LitKicks)The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced.Ben Yogoda writes a defense of common English.Trade paperbacks thrive in tough times. (Our suggestion: make them even smaller.)Earth Day was this past week, and now we know: used books are “greener” than new.