“Ideas are interesting to me, and religions are a place where ideas have been very subtly embodied for thousands of years. All literature started as sacred literature.” Alexandra Alter interviews Salman Rushdie about his brand-new novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.
Trader Joe’s, circa 1877: “It’s always the same complaint: ‘Joe, you don’t have any of the essential items that every other trading post has. Why don’t you have saddles? Or gunpowder? Or basic tools?’ Because I have soy chorizo, that’s why! Because I have chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels!”
Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”
In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I’ve previously linked to Malcolm Harris‘ excellent n+1 piece on the “higher education bubble,” but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
The devastating images of Syria shot by Franco Pagetti have been collected into a series entitled Veiled Aleppo. Over at The New Republic, Geoff Dyer writes about one of them. It’s an image, Dyer observes, that features “symbols … of the death throes not of a city but of film.”