“BEST FEATURE: If you glance at the word it looks like it says ‘tiny axe’ which sounds very cute. It makes me picture a tiny lumberjack. WORST FEATURE: Anxiety can turn a pleasant afternoon into a sweat-drenched pair of slacks that are hard to explain.” Ted Wilson reviews anxiety (spoiler alert: it only gets one star out of five) for Electric Literature.
“As everyday existence becomes more punitive for all but the monied few, more and more frustrated, volatile individuals will seek each other out online, aggravate whatever lethal fairy tale suits their pathology, and, ultimately, transfer their rage from the screen world to the real one.” Gary Indiana reviews Masha Gessen’s The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy for the London Review of Books.
Valentine’s Day may be all about happy couples, but the most memorable love stories in literature are tales of doom, from Oedipus to Romeo and Juliet to the many dysfunctional partnerships that populate contemporary literature. The Guardian offers a literary lovers’ quiz for the lovelorn.
As you probably read last week, Elon Musk (founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) is sure that we’re living in a computer-generated simulation. Over at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a hard look and tries to determine the actual odds of humans inhabiting a simulated world.
“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”
Five years ago, Jacques Lezra was asked to translate a book of untranslateable words. “The project provided me, and my co-editors,” he writes, “with a vivid sense of the history of how people think, and how societies think differently from one another.” This week, the fruits of their labor were published by Princeton University Press, and to celebrate the occasion, the publisher has released six PDFs of sample entries: begriff, kitsch, media, polis, right, and saudade.