Humans have been covering paintings, windows, and mirrors after the passing of loved ones for generations. Why do we feel the need to close off our connection to the outside world when we are grieving? Colin Dickey writes about the social, literary, and religious connotations of grief and memory at Hazlitt. At The Millions, Lidia Yuknavitch writes about channeling her grief into art.
Fellow children of the ‘90s will remember how much that decade was a kind of Golden Age for disaster movies. Then as now, explosive blockbusters like Independence Day, Twister and Dante's Peak satisfied a collective appetite for wide-scale destruction and mayhem. At The Morning News, Ethan Gilsdorf considers what the genre’s evolution has to say about us.
Disappointed by how few of the dozens of official book cover designs of Nabokov's Lolita "correspond thematically to the novel," blog Venus febriculosa is holding a book cover design contest (pdf) to create a new cover for Lolita and is awarding a $350 prize. (Thx, John)
It doesn't get much better than James Wood on Joy Williams: "Nothing is stranger (and funnier) in Williams’s work than her details. Like her forms, they only resemble conventional realist details, an atmosphere perhaps encouraged by her flat, functional sentences (“They danced. Sam had quite a bit to drink”). The details are frequently surreal, magical, hallucinogenic, delivered in a cool, dispassionate, routine manner."
Growing up, I was always taught that chickens lay eggs and people lie down. Since then, I’ve always been irritated by that verb’s misuse. But maybe it’s time to settle down and relax. Maybe, as Kathryn D. Blanchard argues, it’s time to stop “clinging to values that no longer serve their purposes.”