After some initial mystery leading up to publication, Michael Lewis’s new book Flash Boys is here and its subject is high-speed trading (sometimes called “high-frequency trading) that uses supercomputers and complex trading algorithms to attempt to generate profits through brute force. Lewis has become the most popular writer on Wall Street, giving readers a look behind closed doors. The Times has an excerpt of Flash Boys, while Bloomberg has more detail.
“This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old. The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!” NPR’s Monkey See blog provides an irreverent and useful guide to Free Comic Book Day, which is tomorrow, May 6th. “When you read a comic, you are accepting a direct message from one singular honest soul,” Paul Morton wrote in our own pages a few years back.
Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote that all semicolons do is “show you’ve been to college.” What to make, then of The Lonely Island’s raunchy new song about their favorite punctuation mark? (For the record: Jorma Taccone attended UCLA; Akiva Schaffer attended UC-Santa Cruz; and Andy Samberg attended UC-Santa Cruz and NYU.)
J.K Rowling is a vandal! The billionaire and author of the Harry Potter series left her mark in an Edinburgh hotel room when she scribbled some graffiti on the back of a decorative bust back in 2007. “J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room on 11 Jan 2007,” it reads. Oh, I suppose that’s okay.
“Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill.” The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked–and tied, moreover, to mental illness–based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the “touch of madness” from our own archives.
East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.