Lucy Ellmann’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, Ducks, Newburyport, is 1,030 pages of stream of consciousness writing narrated by an Ohio housewife—not exactly the kind of book one easily translates into the audio format. Yet actress Stephanie Ellyne was tasked with just that, as Laura Snapes at the Guardian explains. “For 45 hours and 34 minutes, Ellyne reads Ellmann’s text in a calm, bemused voice that recalls Laurie Anderson’s spoken-word work. During recording, she averaged 41 pages per hour, though the work continued away from the microphone. Every night, Ellyne would read and research the following day’s pages, working out how to pronounce the thousands of place names and obscure historical battles in US history. ‘My engineer and I wondered if some of them were fictional, but sure enough, they’re true,’ says Ellyne. ‘The violence in America—all these shootings—isn’t new.'”
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Millhauser’s Edwin Mullhouse, as well as posting essays about Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, lamenting the awful truth about life without the NFL, and probably marveling at the insanity of L. Ron Hubbard.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor channels George Orwell, immortal champion of good writing in English, to help young scholars avoid the ghastly prose style that dominates contemporary academic writing.
Remember the Muppet movie when Kermit has an existential crisis about time? Yeah, we never saw that one either. But a new biography of Jim Henson, Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones, discusses Henson’s early experimental filmmaking (sans puppets) and plans to open a psychedelic nightclub in the 1960s. You can watch the aforementioned trippy short film “Time Piece.”
Didn’t find the latest New Yorker cartoon funny? Take it up with The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, who discusses the magazine’s “idea drawings” and humor in his TED talk, Anatomy of a New Yorker Cartoon. Bonus: check out Mankoff’s favorite New Yorker cartoons.