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Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

What We’re Loving: Don B., B. Dole, /u/backgrinder

March 7, 2014 | by

The_Archers_by_Bryson_Burroughs_-_Renwick_Gallery_-_DSC08383

“How hard was it to supply archers arrows in ancient battles?” Bryson Burroughs, The Archers, 1917.

Sozzled novelists (aka, lit lit) seems to be the thing to write about lately, but it’s more fun to read great writers making fun of great writers drinking a lot. In one of his short pieces originally written for The New Yorker’s Notes and Comment section (more quotidian than Talk of the Town and funnier than Shouts and Murmurs, it’s a section I wish they’d revive), Donald Barthelme describes having received a questionnaire from Writer’s Digest that inquired about his drinking habits. Asked if he’s a light, medium, heavy, or “other” drinker, Barthelme says medium: “Light is sissy and Heavy doesn’t go down so well with Deans, Loan Officers and Publishers, and who in the world would want to be Other?” Only a few days before reading this gem, I’d discovered Niccolò Tucci’s essay on drunkenness in issue 19 of The Paris Review. Tucci starts by recounting a pop-sci study on the hangover. We’d do well to heed one of its findings: “Alcohol itself is perfectly harmless. It cannot be blamed for anything … not even for death. What kills you is malnutrition. Drinkers forget to eat. If they ate more, they could drink more. In fact, obesity kills more people than alcohol. People should eat much less.” —Nicole Rudick

Steve Jobs famously quipped, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them”—which is often how I feel about the content I find on Reddit, the Internet’s ultimate rabbit hole. Mastering the abbreviated jargon can take some time, but it’s well worth the plunge; I tumbled in, head first, after The Paris Review’s recent AMA. Take, for instance, /u/backgrinder’s response to the very reasonable, if incalculably arcane, question, “How hard was it to supply arrows to archers in ancient battles?” (TL;DR: Surprisingly hard.) —Stephen Andrew Hiltner

I have Bob Dole’s voice in my head, and it’s Richard Ben Cramer’s fault. “Dole’s voice was made for the empty distance and mean wind of the prairie,” Cramer writes in What It Takes: The Way to the White House, his thousand-page opus on presidential politics, published in 1992. Cramer died last year, and I’ve been meaning to delve into this book ever since—for once, the promise of the flap copy is no exaggeration. “An American Iliad in the guise of contemporary political reportage, What It Takes penetrates the mystery at the heart of all presidential campaigns: How do presumably ordinary people acquire that mixture of ambition, stamina, and pure shamelessness that makes a true candidate?” In writing about it here, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew; there’s no way to convey how exhaustively researched it is, how lovingly chronicled, how immaculately well-written. All I can say is that it drove me not just to feel a deep kinship with someone like Bob Dole but to watch the entirety of a Dole debate from the eighties, and to enjoy it. Publishers always like to claim that a given work of nonfiction “reads like a novel,” and it’s so seldom true—but What It Takes has the scope, pace, style, and psychological acuity of the best fiction. —Dan Piepenbring Read More »

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Specialists of Every Stripe Are Flummoxed, and Other News

February 25, 2014 | by

voynich

What does it all mean? Image via the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

  • “‘They shouldn’t be allowed to read it at all,’ Julian suddenly said. ‘They’re the editors,’ I said. ‘They’ve commissioned this thing. And they have to read it.’ ‘No. They will only prejudice it.’” The beguiling story of ghostwriting for Julian Assange.
  • To cunt a text is to adore it.” How to cunt your favorite poets, including samples of Cunt Chaucer, Cunt Wordsworth, and Cunt Olson. A fun arts-and-crafts activity for you and your kids.
  • Why was the Coen brothers’ excellent latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, snubbed by the Academy?
  • What we know about the Voynich manuscript: it’s 246 pages, it was discovered in an Italian monastery in 1912, it consists of words and illustrations, it’s … well, it’s a manuscript. What it says, or whether it says anything at all, remains a mystery, even to linguists, chemists, historians, and physicists.
  • Perhaps forensic linguistics holds the key: “an investigative technique that helps experts determine authorship by identifying quirks in a writer’s style. Advances in computer technology can now parse text with ever-finer accuracy.” Aspirant criminals: write blandly.

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On the Shelf

September 28, 2011 | by

H.G. Wells

A cultural news roundup.

  • Jewish poet and novelist Emanuel Litvinoff has died at the age of ninety-six.
  • Here, he reads his poem “T. S. Eliot.”
  • A new Bloomsbury imprint will digitally revive out-of-print titles by Edith Sitwell, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Monica Dickens, among others.
  • Julian Assange’s memoir, due to  lackluster sales, may soon be out of print. It’s sold fewer than 700 copies.
  • Michael Moore tries to pull his memoir from “murderous Georgia” following the execution of Troy Davis.
  • Reviewers vs. Bloggers.
  • Stephen King gives fans a taste of The Shining sequel.
  • Le fin dAsterix.
  • The return of The BFG.
  • The sex life of H. G. Wells.
  • Between a rock and a hard place.
  • A visual history of book references in The Simpsons.
  • Bentley was, however, no ass.”
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    On the Shelf

    September 21, 2011 | by

    Gustave Flaubert. Photograph by Nadar.

    A cultural news roundup.

  • Michel Houellebecq has been found.
  • So has a James M. Cain manuscript.
  • Neil Young is writing an autobiography.
  • So is Jermaine Jackson.
  • So is Julian Assange. But without his consent.
  • “If I say ‘David Bellos has to be one of the smartest people now on the planet,’ what language am I using? English of a kind; but scarcely the Queen’s, which—to judge from her public utterances—retains a careful insularity; mid-Atlantic schtick is not Her Majesty’s bag.”
  • Nor Shakespeare’s.
  • The Sondheim-crossword mother lode.
  • Shakeups at DC Comics ...
  • But peace at the Poetry Society.
  • “The general editorial posture of the magazine leaned away from the conventions of the establishment and toward the eccentricities of bohemians everywhere.”
  • Salman Rushdie joins Twitter.
  • Flaubert once bet some friends that he could make love to a woman, smoke a cigar, and write a letter at the same time. He won, as they looked on in admiration.”
  • These are beautiful, if we do say so ourselves.
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