Over at Brooklyn Magazine, Molly McArdle writes on J.K. Rowling’s ever-expanding universe. As she puts it, “New canonical information flows from: Pottermore, the fictional universe’s official website; Rowling’s Twitter account; interviews; a forthcoming movie trilogy; and now two plays, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, produced in tandem in London with scripts available for sale in a single volume worldwide. This is Harry Potter’s long, strange afterlife. Or maybe it’s more like an undeath.” Pair with Janet Manley’s Millions essay on The Cursed Child and British humiliation.
Over in the New Statesmen, Ed Smith makes the case for increasing your productivity by making sure to get your R&R. He mentions Bertrand Russel’s In Praise of Idleness, which is my go to piece for arguing with myself against being too busy to argue with myself. Or would be, if only I could find the time.
Writing Workshops LA – which was founded by our own Edan Lepucki – is hosting “The Conference” on June 28 of this year, and the day-long event will consist of “educational and thoughtful panel discussions as well as smaller, in-depth presentations and workshops aimed at informing and inspiring every attendee.” Presenters will include award-winning literary agents, editors, and writers including Joanna Rakoff, Adam Wilson, David L. Ulin, Counterpoint’s Dan Smetanka, and Daniel Gumbiner of McSweeney’s. Don’t miss your chance to sign up for the early bird special before April 15th – the first 40 attendees will also get an invitation to a literary pub quiz event the night before.
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.