Discovery of the Week: Fairy tales are older than previously thought. Researchers have traced stories back to prehistoric and bronze age times. For example, Beauty and the Beast and Rumplestiltskin “can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2,500 and 6,000 years ago.” Kirsty Logan writes about the problem with fairy tales.
Jonathan Safran Foer has recruited Jonathan Franzen to write one of Chipotle’s illustrated essays on their paper cups and take-out bags (which we’ve written about before). As Franzen explains it, “Chipotle store credit was a decisive factor. Chipotle is my go-to fast food restaurant. I also admire its wish to be a good corporate citizen.”
Do you long to go on an adventure, but only so long as the adventure is not in any way uncomfortable or inconvenient? Has a wizard roped you into a quest because one of your ancestors invented golf? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you might be living inside of a J.R.R. Tolkien book.
With Halloween a week away, The New York Times asked Ayana Mathis and Francine Prose about the “most terrifying” books they’ve read. Their choices? Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tales. Pair their combined essays with Flavorwire‘s list of “50 of the Scariest Short Stories” and our own Ben Dooley‘s brief review of House of Leaves‘s “existential terror”.
You may have heard that Haruki Murakami has a new book on shelves. Woody Brown reviewed it for The Millions last week. Over at Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel invites us to play Murakami Bingo, created by Grant Snider, once again. It might also be a good time to read Ben Dooley on 1Q84.
“I cannot help feeling, on being invited to contextualize my own fiction, that the least qualified person possible has been asked. It is more still: hesitance, dread, that as a blind man in a failing aircraft I have been offered the yoke. I imagine it is the same for other writers, for the very fact that you write a story, and not a critical essay, suggests that near everything you hope to say lies outside the bounds of explicit statement.” Despite all that, here’s an essay by Greg Jackson at Granta in which he attempts to contextualize his own fiction.
At 1,700 words, J.K. Rowling’s new “History of the Quidditch World Cup” may not be as daunting a read as J.R.R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in its appeal to ardent fans. At Slate, a brief look at the Wizarding World’s latest reference book.