Recommended Reading: Robert Macfarlane at The Guardian on what it means to be living in the Anthropocene age–in which human influence on the planet is permanent and profound–and how our writers and artists are responding to the crisis.
The B.O.M.M. blog looked at our recent item Best American Short Stories: By the Numbers, in which we crunched some numbers behind the Best American Short Stories series, and created a nifty word map of the short story titles that appeared in the series from 1978 to 2008. "The most frequent word for a title (not including articles and such)? Life. It has appeared 9 times." If anyone else decides to mine some interesting discoveries from the B.A.S.S. data, let us know.
The Millions's own Edan Lepucki, whose first novel California will be released next week, was featured in The New York Times following the promotion of her novel on The Colbert Report. We recommend you read the article, read more from Edan here and here, read the first chapter of California here, and then order the novel ASAP.
“Some psychiatrists say that music has therapeutic powers and can even restore fluidity and mental structure for a moment in some patients – music is the opposite of chaos. It may be that heavy metal, the music his parents blamed in part for this entire catastrophe, is the only thing that gives order to my cousin’s worn-out brain. No one knows, except him.” On trying to seek refuge from schizophrenia in heavy metal.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There's that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine's own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
Mark Dimunation was on the committee that selected the 88 books for the Library of Congress's current "Books That Shaped America" exhibit. Recently he did an interview with NPR's Lynn Neary in which he explained how he arrived at his decisions to include such works as Goodnight Moon, The Joy Of Cooking, and Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Recommended Reading: Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel on why jihadists write poetry.