“In this age of 140-character Twitter posts — not to mention a persistent undercurrent of minimalism in our literature — there’s something profoundly rejuvenating about the very long sentence.” From Hrabal to Joyce to Hugo, Ed Park explores the history of the literary long sentence.
If you thought Michel Houellebecq was controversial, let me direct your attention to Kenneth Goldsmith. In this piece, the poet that everyone loves to hate asserts his desire “to take Walter Benjamin off the pedestal and on to the coffee table.” His newest, Capital, is out now.
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
We’re super jazzed about a new (and free!) app called ToposText that pairs the entirety of ancient Greek and Roman texts with GIS mapping data, allowing travelers to pull up history’s classics in the places in which they were written. Developed by a relative of our own Lydia Kiesling, ToposText correlates to a map of nearly 6,000 ancient places and includes 570 ancient texts in English translation, with hyperlinks to the Greek or Latin original. And for a more modern context to the Homeric epic The Odyssey, consider our piece comparing its journey to that of Toni Morrison‘s own classic Beloved.
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”