The Guardian has begun rolling out their series of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time. The first? Elizabeth Kolbert’s horrifying, no-holds-barred ecological treatise The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Our friends over at the Football Book Club took a look at The Sixth Extinction earlier this year, as well.
In the latest Baffler, Evgeny Morozov argues that Silicon Valley, in typical fashion, has taken to “hacking” our language. Old, trusted words don’t mean what they used to mean, and complex ideas have been stripped of subversive implications. “Complexity,” he writes, “is not particularly viral.”
“I remembered Def Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair.” The Prince-related thinkpieces have mostly subsided by now, but this new piece by Dave Tompkins at The Paris Review will make you glad that people are continuing to write about him.
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.
Most of our discussions about changing the canon revolve around adding onetime marginalized writers. But there’s a flipside to this — who do we need to eject? In a Bookends column for the Times, James Parker and Francine Prose pick greats that are no longer great.