“Is it possible to keep an octopus in a private home?” “Are Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates the same person?” Oh, the things people have asked reference librarians.
Over at The New Inquiry, Alison Kinney writes on narrative opportunity, the true function of the literary orphan, and the rage of the real orphan. This moving piece by Matthew Salesses for The Millions on adoption and searching for oneself in a strange place is a nice complement.
As if demonstrating exemplary literary skill weren’t enough, some overachieving authors were accomplished visual artists as well, notes AbeBooks in a roundup of talent that includes e e cummings, Günter Grass, Herman Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. Consider also our own Bill Morris on artists who channel writers in their own aesthetics.
David Foster Wallace wrote the best bitter takedown (PDF) of the cruise ship industry ever, but he only had to endure a 7-night vacation. Imagine his horror, then, if he had been forced to spend significant time on The World, a $20,000+/month ship that continuously circumnavigates the world and has permanent passengers in its 165 private residences. For a more detailed glimpse at life on board the ship, check out Anthony Bourdain’s Gourmet piece on his 2003 visit.
“An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. ‘It’s too big,’ I told them.” This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
It was probably inevitable that someone would turn the ravings of Charlie Sheen into found poetry. But unlike similar collections “by” Donald Rumsfeld and Rod Blagojevich, this one offers us the opportunity to compare it to the real thing – Sheen’s early ’90s chef d’oeuvre, A Peace of My Mind.