The Daily

On the Shelf

That’s Van Gogh’s Ear, and Other News

June 5, 2014 | by


Photo: Diemut Strabe

  • Now on display at a German museum: a replica of one of Van Gogh’s ears. (Hint: it’s not the one he didn’t cut off.) “Created using 3D printers and genetic material from a living relative of van Gogh, it was shaped to be the exact size of the Dutch painter’s ear and is kept alive in a nourishing liquid.”
  • Yesterday’s usage wars were every bit as fraught and irrational as today’s: “‘Dilapidated’ was frowned upon by some because it comes from a Latin root, lapis, meaning stone, so it was thought that you should only refer to a dilapidated building if it was actually made out of stone … And it was considered that luncheon was the proper noun and that lunch was really only to be used as a verb.”
  • What chemical compounds produce the smells of new and old books? Vinyl acetate ethylene, alkyl ketene dimer, and 2-ethyl hexanol, of course!
  • Tales from New York’s bookstores: “One day a woman asked us which Jennifer Egan book she should read … We recommended Look at Me, and then suggested, ‘If you’d like it signed, Jennifer Egan is right next to you and is quite nice.’”
  • Centralia, Pennsylvania: still on fire. Has been since at least ’62.



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  1. […] #1 Niche content with mass appeal. The Paris Review’s brand content is, in a word, simply rock solid. It holds appeal for the magazine’s highbrow audience, while also drawing in folks who don’t know Kafka from Ke$ha. Every weekday morning, TPR’s Dan Piepenbringpublishes the “On the Shelf” blog post, which serves as a roundup of everything weird, fascinating, obscure, and otherwise charming in the world of books and writing. See the Facebook screenshot below for an example. (Or, read about a 3D printed version of Van Gogh’s ear.) […]

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