“I’m drawn to books that deal in fragments and digressions, authors that patch together something larger from these pieces while also letting them stand on their own.” Sam Stephenson writes about “reimagining what a biography can look like” and reading Tennessee Williams: Notebooks, edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton, in a piece for The Paris Review. He also mentions Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which Tyler Gillespie recently reviewed for The Millions.
Excerpts from Anthony Michael Morena’s The Voyager Record: A Transmission are now available online in Ninth Letter. Morena combines flash fiction and prose poetry in his record of the phonograph record that was included on the Voyager spacecrafts. The record plated with gold contained 27 songs, 118 images, and greetings in 55 languages, and was meant to summarize all life on Earth for the extraterrestrials.
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz’s one-of-kind victor’s shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard’s son compiles a concordance to his father’s vigorous criticism, in which “thug,” “libidinal,” and “linoleum” make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled – sort of – by The Harvard Crimson: he’s the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler’s Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and pauses on “limn.”Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be “thinking the unthinkable.”
A while back, we noted that Tumblr had begun hiring editors and reporters to cover and curate the site’s social stories and original content. Recently, that (vaguely Soviet sounding) Department of Editorial launched the first iteration of its work: Storyboard. Details on participation can be read here.