“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein recommends a couple of self-help books to one reader in this week's mail blog. "Let your self-help freak flag fly!" he writes. Such might put you in esteemed company. As Maria Bustillos pointed out in her poignant investigation for The Awl, David Foster Wallace treasured many self help books.
"'I just want to be normal,' she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with." At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg lists flaws only a protagonist could have.
New Yorkers: the Brooklyn Book Festival kicks off tomorrow evening, and you can get things started off right with this party hosted by Tumblr, Electric Literature, The LA Review of Books, and The New Inquiry. The following night, however, is when you should carve out some time to see The Greatest 3-Minute Book Stories -- which will feature readings by Maris Kreizman (Slaughterhouse 90210), Alexander Chee (Edinburgh), Dan Wilbur (Better Book Titles), Christopher Beha (On Making Sentences Do Something), and yours truly (these Curiosities) among others.