“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
“It helps to be nobody if you want to be somebody.” Over at The Daily Beast, Ted Gioia takes a look at what he calls the new cult of the anonymous artist. From the famously infamous graffiti artist Banksy to the enigmatic Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, there is certainly no denying that, whatever the reason, anonymity is “in.” Here’s an older Millions essay that takes a look at Banksy, obsession, and the sea.
Some very cool Hunter S. Thompson photography showing now at an LA gallery. The show coincides with a pricey new “collector’s edition” book that “presents a rare look into the life of Thompson.” (via)Another most literate cities list has arrived. In 2006, Seattle wins, with Minneapolis second. My hometown Washington, DC, is tied for third and LA, where I lived when I started this blog, is eighth. The last two cities I’ve lived in, Chicago (39th) and, now, Philadelphia (tied for 33rd), fail to crack the top ten. Not sure what conclusions I can draw about that, but USA Today draws its own conclusions in an article about the list.Somebody gets into Gwenda’s garbage, her papers fly everywhere, and before you know it, she’s cought in a “indie movie scene wrought with ironic symbolism.” Brilliant.Lesser-Known Editing and Proofreading Marks. Also Brilliant. (via Languagehat)On a more serious note, Tim O’Reilly explains why the book search efforts of Google, et al, are broken. The problem is that we must search in Google’s (or Yahoo’s) walled garden. There is no way to search across all of the books that have been digitized, which is very much at odds with our experience on the Web, where we can search everything at once.
As an Editor-at-Large at Interview Magazine, Christopher Bollen has talked with everyone from Joan Didion to Renata Adler to Michael Stipe. Last Friday, he became an interview subject himself, sitting down with Tom Barbash at Salon to talk about his new novel, Orient. Sample quote: “I know I’m supposed to have the young characters constantly on Snapchat and Instagram and every adult is falling asleep at night to a Netflix marathon.”