“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
Rule number one in journalism: Don't call the person you are interviewing a fucking asshole. James Frey of A Millions Little Pieces discloses what he believes is the future of the written word. (via)
Fans of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, often know that he had an earlier career as an ad agency illustrator, but how many of them know he was also an amateur taxidermist? "His father, superintendent of parks in Springfield, Mass., occasionally sent him antlers, bills and horns from deceased zoo animals," reports NPR, elements that Geisel then integrated into fantastical wall sculptures.
"We all read from different places, different backgrounds, and my meeting with Proust or Woolf, or Lydia Davis or J. M. Coetzee, will not be yours, nor should it be. On the other hand I do believe reading is an active skill, an art even, certainly not a question of passive absorption. ... [so] there must be techniques and tools that everyone can use or try, even if we use them differently." Tim Parks explains how he reads for The New York Review of Books.
Amazon's 7" Kindle Fire tablet will sell for $199 -- less than half the cost of Apple's cheapest iPad. The color, touch-screen tablet will run Google's Android software and have access to Amazon's app store, streaming movies and TV shows. Additionally, Amazon's announced the launch of the $99 Kindle Touch, and has reduced the price of the standard Kindle to $79.
Some videos just make you want to write. Joe Capra's stunning timelapse video of Iceland's "midnight sun" is one of them.
As the publication date nears for Robert Caro's latest Lyndon Johnson installment, The Passage of Power, it's a good idea to brush up on your history of Caro's career. Enter Charles McGrath and his great portrait of one of the most prolific biographers of all time.