This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you’ll read this morning. “Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form,” Demary writes, “I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia.”
Google has launched a new search filter to its “advanced search page” that allows people to sort content based on reading level — basic, intermediate, or advanced. Google thinks The Millions lands in the middle. Search your website using the feature to see how Google rates it. (Disclaimer: we can’t see any rhyme or reason to their ratings.) (Update for you visitors from Gawker: If this Google business bores you – and lets be honest, it’s not that exciting – stick around and check out our much more scintillating Year in Reading series, featuring Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Sam Lipsyte and all manner of literary luminaries.)
You may have heard (via this site or elsewhere) that Harold Bloom has a new book out. In the Times Sunday Book Review, Cynthia Ozick gives her take, identifying the critic’s use of the phrase “without precedent” as key to understanding his theory. You could also read Matt Hanson on Bloom’s classic The Anatomy of Influence.
David Carr takes a look at The Atavist, whose team of multimedia gurus has won the attention (and seed funding) of Google founder Eric Schmidt. Of course, the outfit’s also been receiving generous attention for their quality work, too. (I mentioned them a few months ago.) More recently, however, certain scientific circles have fawned over the subject of their story The Electric Mind, which tracks one paralyzed woman and the scientists who developed the BrainGate technology which eventually got her moving… robotically.
It’s not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here’s an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O’Connor and her “flawed characters.”