Out this week: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk; The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray (whom our own Mark O’Connell interviewed today); Submission by Michel Houellebecq; Golden Age by Jane Smiley; The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor; Moon Up, Past Full by Eric Shonkwiler; and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The theatrical trailer for the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey was released this week. If you’re keeping track, that means we’ve now got a film based on fan fiction written about another film adapted from a schlocky romance novel involving vampires. (Come at me, Twilight fans.)
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.
Researchers at Google have analyzed “audiovisual patterns,” “title, description and tags,” “words associated with amusement” in user comments, “emoticons,” and even the number of o’s in the average “LOL” in various YouTube videos in order to identify the funniest content on the web. Then they set up an algorithm to rank their findings, and subjected those findings to an audience vote (which you can join over here). Based on their calculations so far, this was the funniest video of all time. What do you think?
In the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller explains why all the year-end lists are a tiresome exercise: “What annoys and disappoints me, though, is the chilly retrospective nature of such lists. They drain all of the blood from the critic’s job. They require a cold, methodical calculation of passions long past. They’re about yesterday’s yearning. Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so.” (Thanks, Laurie)