“Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.” Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.
“Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us.” Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man — a movie about farts. But what else is it about?
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
A hundred years after the First World War began, many people are looking anew at the conflict, among them Thomas Laquer, who wrote a lengthy reflection of its causes in an LRB review of Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers. In The New Yorker, George Packer uses the war as a jumping-off point for an essay on a broader topic: the evolution of war literature in the modern world.
Litquake, the West Coast’s largest literary festival, now offers downloadable bi-monthly podcasts via their website and iTunes. On the site presently are episodes with Geoff Dyer, Carolyn Burke, Adam Johnson, Joshua Cohen, and Molly Ringwald, and the group plans to livestream and post events from their upcoming festival (Oct. 5-13) as well.