“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
What is creepypasta, and what does it have to do with the future of literature? According to this blog post on the Twitter Fiction Festival, it’s a type of short horror fiction which, because it's posted exclusively on the Web, occupies a similar place to Twitter fiction in the ranks of new literary genres. If you want to learn more about Twitter fiction, you could read our own Elizabeth Minkel on the nascent art form.
Out this week: Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen; The Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark; Second Life by S.J. Watson; The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall; Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos; The Household Spirit by Tod Wodicka; Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor; and Rise by Karen Campbell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper's book.
The Oxford University Press blog has a never-before-published poem by Dorothy Wordsworth. She constructed the piece in 1839 while suffering from arteriosclerosis and dementia because “there was a therapeutic dimension both in creating and ‘performing’ poetry,” writes Lucy Newlyn.