How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation — was the author simply having a midlife crisis?
George Saunders delivered a little publicized convocation at Syracuse University this year. His main advice to the class of 2013 — be kind. "And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE," he said.
A basketball player gets kicked in the testicles and hundreds of news outets have to figure out how the heck to write about it: "Different outlets have different comfort levels when writing about the crotch. The New York Times, for example, threw idiomatic English out the door on first reference: 'Exhibit A was that [Draymond] Green picked up a flagrant-1 foul — while hacked in the act of shooting — with 5 minutes 57 seconds left in the half by flailing a leg between those of Steven Adams, who wound up doubled over.'"
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
Pankaj Mishra caught up with Orhan Pamuk in the midst of Turkey’s Gezi Park turmoil, and though the Nobel laureate was at first “reluctant to speak of the protests,” he occasionally let down his guard. In those instances, writes Mishra, Pamuk “revealed a shrewd political mind and a confidence about the new social consciousness the demonstrators represent.”