“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.
If you haven’t gotten enough of literary New York quite yet, here’s what the Guardian (UK) thinks you should be reading about “the American dream concretised in a shimmering mirage, the burgeoning metropolis of hope built on foundations of money, drugs and exploitation.” Less judgmentally, Grantland’s Kevin Nguyen focuses on two new books set in Queens, recommending High As the Horses’ Bridles by The Millions’ own Scott Cheshire, which is no Brooklyn hipster novel: his opening scene (“among the finest published this year”) has a 12-year-old offering a prophecy of Armageddon.
What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, was a dear friend (even protégé) of King Charles II. He was also a sharp-tongued poet who called out the same King on his bedroom behavior: “His sceptre and prick are of a length; / And she may sway the one who plays with th’other.”
Are you reading this because you’re procrastinating? Do you happen to be a writer? We thought so. At The Atlantic, Megan McArdle explores why writers are the worst procrastinators. Hint: It’s because we have a bad case of imposter syndrome. This isn’t the only theory on why we procrastinate, though.
An intrepid (or sadistic?) YouTube user created a “No Cry Challenge” video playlist composed of nineteen videos that will surely punch you in the gut. These things are heavy and heart wrenching. I don’t want to mislead you at all: they could very well ruin your entire week. The first one in the queue is especially devastating; I recommend doing it last. After you watch a couple, go outside and take a walk. Hug a family member, a pet or a friend. (via)
University Of Chicago Press has come out with a new edition of a somewhat forgotten classic in the campus novel genre. Randall Jarrell was a National Book Award-winning poet who wrote only one novel, Pictures from an Institution, about the fictional Benton College. The Kenyon Review published the opening of the novel in its Winter 1953 issue. It begins: “Half the campus was designed by Bottom the Weaver, half by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Benton had been endowed with one to begin with, and had smiled and sweated and spoken for the other.”