“I fought the urge to throw up in my hands as I asked myself, ‘How the fuck did I get here?’” When you’re a jewel mule, as Kayli Stollak describes in this piece for The Establishment (via Narratively), going through customs can be a little stressful. For more lurid tales of crime and aristocratic extravagance, see our own Matt Seidel‘s review of Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle.
“Video games are worth loving, but loving them comes with shame. Not passing regret or social embarrassment, but a sharp-edged physical guilt: the hunch-backed, raw-fingered, burning-eyed pain that comes at the sad and greasy end of an all-night binge. You have ostentatiously, really viciously wasted your life; you might as well have been masturbating for the last nine hours—your hands, at least, would feel better.” Gabriel Winslow-Yost reviews the best “homemade” video games for n+1.
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
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.
Can’t get enough Murakami? In the lead-up to the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature, Dan over at “How to Japonese” will post a short, new Murakami translation each week. The translations come from an unpublished (in English) collection of Murakami’s answers to his readers’ questions. This week, Murakami tackles safe sex.