Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
As you probably read last week, Elon Musk (founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) is sure that we’re living in a computer-generated simulation. Over at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a hard look and tries to determine the actual odds of humans inhabiting a simulated world.
None other than Randy Cohen, “The Ethicist” of the New York Times, has decided that illegally downloading an e-book version of a book for which you’ve already paid full price in hardcover is “not unethical… subsequent downloading is akin to buying a CD, then copying it to your iPod.” He adds, “Sadly, the anachronistic conventions of bookselling and copyright law lag the technology.”
The average book tour is filled with indignities, but none may be worse than getting kicked out of a cheap motel, which is exactly what happened to our own Bill Morris on the tour for his latest novel. At The Daily Beast, he recounts the unfortunate events that led to him getting booted from a Motel 6. You could also read his essay on listening to the audiobook of his own novel while on tour.
A new academic journal dedicated to critical explorations of “cultural products and services designated as pornographic” will debut next spring. “Porn Studies is a direct outgrowth of the mounting scholarly interest in the topic of pornography as a significant, yet relatively under-examined, realm of popular culture,” writes Lynn Comella.
Recommended Reading: This beautiful essay from The Rumpus on the ambivalence of Jewishness and a whole lot more nuance than this Curiosity can communicate. Here’s an essay by Gabriel Brownstein from The Millions on what it means to be labeled as a Jewish writer.
Here’s to wishing you a spooky Halloween with this piece by Micah Nathan of The Paris Review. Nathan hearkens back to his boyhood–a much simpler time of casual demon-summoning, Satanism, and the occult. This essay by our own Anne K. Yoder will satisfy any lingering desire for the four Humors.