What's the best book of the 21st century? To date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao seems to be the favorite - the BBC polled a few dozen US critics and Junot Diaz's novel came in first place. The full list is available from The Guardian, and includes Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, both of which appeared alongside Oscar Wao in our own "Best of the Millennium" list a few years ago.
Spider-Man is one of our favorite superheroes, but he's a terrible journalist. At The Atlantic, Daniel D. Snyder discusses how Peter Parker and Clark Kent are unethical reporters. "The media is, in theory at least, supposed to be honest. Putting on a costume, coming up with a fake name, and lying to everyone about what you really do are the opposite of that."
Don't let social anxiety trap you in your hotel room at AWP. At Tin House, Courtney Maum gives advice for how to make and keep your writer friends in an essay aptly titled, "How Not to Hate Your Friends." Her first wise tip: "Only be friends with people you actually like." Pair with: Our dispatch from AWP 2013 to know what you're in for.
N+1 takes the brave step of making all more of its content available online, at a snazzily updated website. You might start with Mark McGurl's knockout piece on Zombie novels, a fitting companion to our own Emily W.'s recent work on vampires. Remember, though: subscribing "is the right thing to do."
“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
io9 offers up "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life," from Frankenstein to Pattern Recognition. (via)Cathleen Schine on the charms of Peter CareyThe "Thomas Bernhard cult" claims a new initiate.F.O.T.M. (Friend of The Millions) Lydia Millet talks about "endangered species, the idea of motherhood, and her stint at Hustler.""Why do scribblers make drinking their second art? For one thing, it primes them for their task." Writers and booze.Some American Studies undergrads at The University of Virginia have put together an online exhibit titled "The New Yorker Magazine in the 1930s."NPR's "In Character" segment considers Hawthorne's Hester Prynne.
Over-confident people enter into our lives in many forms: military planners, Wall Street investors, that chick shouting *NSYNC into the mic at the back of the bar. Daniel Kahneman's new book Thinking, Fast and Slow, deals with this phenomenon of human nature. Read an excerpt here.