“Language is more direct, open, unself-conscious, precise, and human. It doesn’t belong to me anymore but to the atmosphere, and this makes me happy.” Henri Cole on having his poetry projected onto buildings by Jenny Holzer.
Jonathan Safran Foer has recruited Jonathan Franzen to write one of Chipotle’s illustrated essays on their paper cups and take-out bags (which we’ve written about before). As Franzen explains it, “Chipotle store credit was a decisive factor. Chipotle is my go-to fast food restaurant. I also admire its wish to be a good corporate citizen.”
Zadie Smith could write herself out of a Chinese takeout box, and that’s exactly what she does in her essay on the differences between British and American takeout culture, “Take It Or Leave It,” for The New Yorker. “I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture.”
The practice of naming children after a dead sibling was surprisingly common up until the late-nineteenth century–Salvador Dali, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Vincent Van Gogh were each “necroynms,” or the second of their name. Jeannie Vasco’s essay for The Believer on necronyms and grief is perfect to read alongside this essay for The Millions by Chloe Benjamin on naming not humans, but novels.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.
In 1986, six years before the publication of The Secret History, Donna Tartt was chosen as the student speaker of her graduating class at Bennington College. A typewritten copy of the speech was recently unearthed, in which she looks back upon her education and the college campus that inspired her first novel. Pair with this comprehensive list of the artworks in Tartt’s The Goldfinch.