“First, humans domesticated the horse. Then, we invented analgesia for the horses while we got rid of God—eliminating pain while also eliminating pain’s previously greatest meaning. This made a lonely universe. We partially solved loneliness by inventing smartphones, but this also created our now endless distraction—which, fortunately, can be treated with Vyvanse.” Sasha Chapin for Hazlitt on his friend Rachel, who is living with a terminal illness.
Mitt Romney’s debate remark about where he finds women when he needs to fill some jobs has inspired hundreds of witty product reviewers on Amazon.
Researchers have determined that “winning a prestigious prize in the literary world seems to go hand-in-hand with a particularly sharp reduction in ratings of perceived quality.” So if you’re very sensitive, take some solace in the fact that you haven’t won a major award, I guess.
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
A week after it wins the Booker, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is now on American shelves. Jonathan Lethem’s newest Chronic City comes out today. Dave Eggers’ novelization of a movie based on a children’s book, Wild Things is out in standard and special fur-covered editions. A Lydia Davis-translated French “masterpiece” is out today from NYRB Classics.
Forget the Dos Equis guy. John Fairfax was truly “the most interesting man in the world” and, if you don’t believe me, read this series of lines from his actual obituary: “At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle. At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate.”
Anaïs Nin had a lot to say about writing erotic fiction. Notably, she was unwilling to “leave out the poetry” and “concentrate on sex” in its place, despite repeated requests from her anonymous client to do just that. On a lighter note, Seth Fried also has some advice for aspiring writers of erotica. Quick, somebody get both of these articles to E. L. James.