“The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan.” On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
On the New Yorker’s Elements blog, our own Mark O’Connell writes about Cloak, a new app which lets you avoid people you don’t want to bump into by accident. Despite the fact that Mark can see himself using the app, he finds it “ultimately troubling,” in large part because it strikes him as “such a lonely thing to have achieved through technological control of our social environments.” (Speaking of apps, have you read Mark’s epic e-book?)
People Who Eat Darkness author Richard Lloyd Parry’s forthcoming book on the Tōhoku earthquake and its aftermath, Ghosts of the Tsunami, will be released some time in late summer/early fall, and BBC Radio put together a 30-minute teaser to tide you over until then. You can also check out Parry’s moving yet unsettling piece for the London Review of Books.
“I had invented a writing table out of a wheelbarrow in the coal bunker, just beyond a wall from where a dynamo ran. It made a deep, constant humming noise. There was no more work to do until about 4 a.m., when we would have to clean the fires and get up steam again.” The University of Mississippi power plant where William Faulkner wrote his self-styled “tour-de-force” As I Lay Dying is slated to be demolished. Here’s a nice, complementary piece on slowing down to read Faulkner.
“At home, I dedicate occasional whole days to reading as if I’m a convalescent. The ideal place for this is the bath, where the body floats free,” Rachel Kushner told The New York Times in a “By the Book” interview. Yet just because her reading style is leisurely doesn’t mean her reading is; she discusses her love of Proust and avoidance of books known for their plots. For more Kushner, read our own interview with her or her 2013 Year in Reading post.
Nancy Jo Sales, author of The Bling Ring, talks about her latest book, American Girls, at NPR. “In the 2 1/2 years she spent researching her book, Sales interviewed more than 200 teenage girls around the country about their social media and Internet usage. She says girls face enormous pressures to post ‘hot’ or sexualized photos of themselves online, and she adds that this pressure can make the Internet an unwelcoming environment.” You could also read Sarah Labrie’s essay on social (media) anxiety.