“What love does in this union is dark and difficult and glorious — and stands on the side of life; who would dare or even want to guess more about it than that; and indeed, you will experience it. Certainly not without interruptions and doubts.” Lou Andreas-Salomé’s poignant advice on love and art to none other than Rainer Maria Rilke is certainly Valentine’s Day-appropriate.
If you received a text from an unknown number saying, “sup you comnig to this thing?”, would you respond? Michael Cera imagines the ensuing conversation in his epistolary humor piece, “My Man Jeremy,” for The New Yorker. Depending on how you feel about the actor, the piece is either endearingly awkward or annoying, but it’s very Cera — complete with anxiety and references to how he always gets mixed up with fellow “Shouts & Murmurs” contributor Jesse Eisenberg.
Think back to your time as a 14-year-old. What were you doing with your time? Were you beating Norman Mailer in a national essay contest? A Guide for the Perplexed author Dara Horn was.
13-year-old Charlotte Brontë and her brother Branwell wrote adventure books in 2-inch books they sewed themselves. The results are exactly as adorable as you imagine. (Pair with our own essay on the sisters’ beginnings.)
Turns out Americans aren’t the only ones who adore snark. The novelist and critic Adam Mars-Jones has won the first Hatchet Job prize from the British website Omnivore for his blistering takedown of Michael Cunningham’s latest novel, By Nightfall. Mars-Jones beat out Geoff Dyer’s slam of Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending. “It isn’t terrible,” Dyer wrote, “it’s just so…average.”
The New York Times Book Review commissioned a work of fiction about the election from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She chose to write about Melania Trump. If you can handle more Trump, check out Greg Chase’s portrait of a Trump supporter, based on Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.
Though Franzen would surely argue (in great excess of 140 characters) to the contrary, the excellent introductory essay from the latest issue of N+1 lauds Twitter for “the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.”