Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso writes about motherhood, writing, and the disintegration of the self in a moving essay for Harper’s. As she puts it, “I want to read books that were written in desperation, by people who are disturbed and overtaxed, who balance on the extreme edge of experience. I want to read books by people who are acutely aware that death is coming and that abiding love is our last resort.” Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.
Recommended Reading: Jesse Eisenberg’s stream of conscious New Yorker short story, “A Short Story Written With Thought-to-Text Technology.” “When he was younger he used to stay late after school on Fridays and come in early on Mondays, a pattern his mother referred to with equal parts admiration and disdain as ‘studying overtime.’ Jesus, I’ve written another loser.”
Facebook’s amended S-1 to its IPO was filed this week, and the details confirm some of the doubts raised in the last filing. The company estimates that between 5-6% of its most active users could in fact be “duplicate” (read: fake) accounts. Put in more concrete terms, of Facebook’s estimated 850 million users, 46,475,000 may be like this one. (46 million, by the way, is roughly the population of Colombia, Spain, or Ukraine.)
We’re super jazzed about a new (and free!) app called ToposText that pairs the entirety of ancient Greek and Roman texts with GIS mapping data, allowing travelers to pull up history’s classics in the places in which they were written. Developed by a relative of our own Lydia Kiesling, ToposText correlates to a map of nearly 6,000 ancient places and includes 570 ancient texts in English translation, with hyperlinks to the Greek or Latin original. And for a more modern context to the Homeric epic The Odyssey, consider our piece comparing its journey to that of Toni Morrison‘s own classic Beloved.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.