Two years ago, Allison Parrish produced a diary of an expedition through “fantastical places that do not exist.” The twist? The diary was generated by a computer program, which extracted more than 5,700 sentences drawn from Project Gutenberg and later recombined at random by “switching out grammatical constituents.” An extract of the finished work, interspersed with Parrish’s nonfiction essay, can be read here.
As of this morning, the 2014 IMPAC Dublin longlist is out, and the titles that made the final cut are an eclectic assortment. The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (which we reviewed) made the cut, as did The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (which won the Pulitzer earlier this year) and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (which won the Booker Prize).
Recommended (Revolutionary) Reading: On why Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics remains so relevant to today’s most heated literary arguments, despite its being nearly fifty years old at this point.
The New Yorker’s book blog continues to host “Questioningly,” a so-called Twitter game show. The most recent installment featured the imagined Facebook status updates of literary figures, and was hosted by Ben Greenman. Who, might I add, is on a roll these days over at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency too.
“Vivian Lee is the kind of editor you want on your team: a writer at heart who understands the sometimes painful creative process, a fierce advocate when it comes to supporting her authors, and always at the ready with a hilarious tweet up her sleeve.” Check out an interview with Lee at The Rumpus. You could also read a piece in which a few editors share their experiences with their first acquisitions.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.
“There is a saying that has become a cliché: ‘Pictures speak louder than words.’ But sometimes, a picture can speak louder than words because it contains a profound silence. It’s what a picture does not say that can often make it loud. What is, after all, a wordless novel but a novel devoted to the message of silence?” On Frans Masereel‘s My Book of Hours, a wordless novel in woodcuts. For another, lighter perspective on the power of picture books, pair with Jacob Lambert‘s “Yet Again, I Ask: Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?“