New this week: Flings by Justin Taylor; We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas; The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar; Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark; The Undertaking by Audrey Magee; Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher; and a new translation of a French children’s book by Lydia Davis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
We are all by now familiar with J.K. Rowling's elaborate, hand-drawn outlines for the Harry Potter series, but what if all plots could be simplified further? Down to, let's say, graphs? And not even an infinite number of graphs, but just six? The Paris Review considers the work of Matthew Jockers, a literature professor who studies “the relationship between sentiment and plot shape in fiction.”
Haruki Murakami's love for jazz is no secret - he used to own a jazz bar, he's written full essay collections on the music, and his books are peppered with references to jazz songs and musicians. How fitting, then, that there's finally a playlist of jazz songs mentioned in Murakami's writings. Pair with our many past essays on Murakami.
Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”
This weekend--at 2:30 am on Saturday, to be precise--Twitter bot @everyword was set to complete its 7-year run with the final word in the English language: "zymurgy." Unexpectedly, the bot tweeted again half an hour later--with a nontraditional character it had surreptitiously glossed on the first run: éclair. Since @everyword, like Lazarus, probably won't get the same fuss after its second death, check out The Guardian's interview with creator Adam Parrish now.
Like a time machine to the first Bush Administration, the complete archives of the late, lamented, and hugely influential Spy Magazine are now apparently available through Google Books (via). We'd offer a few keywords to get you started, but the riches are too many. Okay, fine. You twisted our collective arm. Ivana Trump. Henry Kissinger. O.J. Celebrity Pro-Am Ironman Nightlife Decathalon. Go nuts.