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Friday, May 14, 2010



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Story ideas for Sci-fi writers

Here's a link to an editorial by Robert Wright of the New York Times, which discusses the possible temperament of exterrestrials, if they were to come to Earth. The essay is thoroughly speculative, but interesting, and throughout Mr. Wright sprinkles about a billion ideas for sci-fi stories. So, if that's your bag, or if you just like thinking about aliens, take a moment to check out the editorial. It's worth it.

You can read it here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obligatory DFW Post

Ibrahim N. Abusharif of The Millions wrote a brilliant aticle about reading the David Foster Wallace edited edition of the 2007 edition of The Best American Essays in Qatar.

This is my favorite quote:

"As an essayist and novelist, Wallace had a skilled hand at shrewd deconstruction—someone who can take apart, for example, cultural staples of leisure, like a county fair or cruise trip, to reveal what he sees as stifling banality that distracts and sedates."*

It is this ability to deconstruct everyday things, especially in his nonfiction, that makes DFW so entertaining for me**. He was curious about everything, and he followed his curiosity into the most interesting corners of thought, never forgetting to bring the reader along for the ride. I'm so glad that he left such a large, and dense, body of work to peruse and argue about for a long time to come.

You can read the essay here.

*Second favorite quote is this one from DFW himself: “In sum, to really try to be informed and literate today is to feel stupid nearly all the time, and to need help.”
**E.g. In Consider the Lobster there is an essay in which he uses a review of a dictionary in order to launch into a massive exploration of lexicography, usage, authority, and the descriptivism vs. prescriptivism debate.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Great Books

Roger Cohen of the New York Times recently wrote about Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone, which has only just now been released in the United States, nearly 60 years after its initial release in Germany. The novel follows a German couple during World War II as they wage a secret, and admittedly small, offensive against the Third Reich. Largely based on real events, Cohen contends that Fallada's novel is gut-wrenching in its depiction of the small evils that made up the larger horror of Nazi Germany. The book has mos' def' made it on my short list of fiction I need to read.

An interesting sidenote is that the title of Mr. Cohen's editorial is "The Banality of Good" which is a reference to Hannah Arendt's controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, about the Eichmann trial. Right now I'm reading Arendt's book On Violence so it gave me an extra kick when I recognized the reference.

You can check out the article here.

And you can purchase Every Man Dies Alone here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Little Ditty

A comic from Peter Kuper.