If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”
If you see something, read something: Yesterday New York City's MTA launched Subway Reads, an eight-week-long initiative allowing strap-hangers to download novellas, short stories, or excerpts from books via the city's new(ish) wi-fi service in 175 underground stations. They've even timed the length of Which news in turn begs the question: what would Borges say?
If you're a professor or mentor, it's the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson's recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. "He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends." Even if the government didn't like Whitman's work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne's essay on the power of Whitman's poetry.
This essay on the proliferation of gossip in journalism is adapted from Joseph Epstein's Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit. In it, Epstein discusses the problem of "how straight-up, no-apologies public gossip has infected standard, or what once might have been called respectable, journalism."