Ed. Note: last week’s puzzle contest is officially over—thanks to all who entered. Our winner this time is Daria Mikolajczak, who gets a free subscription to the Review. Congratulations, Daria! Below, the solution to Dylan’s puzzle. Read More
Ed. Note: every month, the Daily features a puzzle by Dylan Hicks. The first list of correct answers wins a year’s subscription to The Paris Review. (In the event that no one can get every answer, the list with the most correct responses will win.) Send an e-mail with your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Thursday, April 28, at noon EST, when we’ll post the answers. Good luck!
Our latest puzzle anagrammatizes names and titles ripped or daintily cut from newspapers and magazines published this April. The anagrams have been arranged into three numerically uneven groups. In the first group, Multiplex Marquee Prank, you’ll find the jumbled titles of movies in wide release as of this mid-April writing. With a few exceptions, the anagrams don’t relate to or otherwise provide clues to the movies, but since there are relatively few titles playing widely on big screens at any given time, the pool of possible answers should be manageable. Because some of the anagrams might on first glance resemble nonsense, each is preceded by a context-suggesting parenthetical. So, a puzzle leading to Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead might look like this: Read More
We’re thrilled to announce a new chapter for The Paris Review’s subscribers—an exciting opportunity to meet your fellow readers, enhance your writing skills, and relax in the sun while you support your favorite literary magazine. This August, join us aboard the SS Plimpton for four days of fun, food, and fiction as we set sail for scenic Rehoboth Beach, Delaware! For only $375*, you can make memories and friendships you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.
Want to learn more? Read on! Read More
- Lyricist Sameer Anjaan has entered The Guinness Book of World Records—they had to make a new category—for writing the greatest number of Bollywood songs, ever. By the numbers: 3,524 songs, 650 films, 33 years. Writes his biographer, “Sameer was a hit both with the fans and the singers because he wrote songs that did not require dictionary to understand. He wrote in the language of the common people.” Listen to his top twenty-five songs here.
- In other lyrical news: Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin will premiere at the Metropolitan Opera as part of its 2016–2017 season—the first opera by a woman the company has mounted since 1903.
- Female spies in seventeenth-century Northern Europe had all sorts of ingenious means of transporting information, writes historian Nadine Ackerman, author of “Female Spies or ‘she-Intelligencers’: Towards a Gendered History of Seventeenth-Century Espionage.” The women—who ranged from poets to bakers, aristocrats to peasants—were generally considered unsuspicious, even in times of war, and if caught did not face the capital punishment of their male counterparts. In a pair videos, the author re-creates several of their espionage methods: using artichokes and hollow eggs.
- In many ways, we are less intrigued by The Vatican Cookbook revealing the Holy Father’s love of pizza than by the fact that such information is “as told by members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.” It seems like breaking some kind of seal, or at least NDA, but no! In fact! “Polish nuns do the majority of cooking at the Vatican, but the Swiss Guard chefs do step in to make food on formal occasions or to fulfill a special request. Though a guard cooking is a rarity, these men know more about the Pope’s eating habits than anyone else, since they are no more than a few steps from him at all times.”
- “What does it mean to shift overnight from a society in which people walk down the street looking around to one in which people walk down the street looking at machines?” asks Jacob Weisberg in The New York Review of Books. Writing about four new books that plumb different aspects of our dependence on—ambivalent relationship to—technology, he finds that most raise more questions than they answer—we’re still living the answer in real time.
- To die in literature is to achieve fictional immortality, argues John Williams. “Just a cursory list of memorable deaths (spoilers ahead) can make all of literature seem like one long Edward Gorey strip: Cathy in Wuthering Heights; Beth in Little Women; Piggy in Lord of the Flies; Cordelia in King Lear; more or less everyone in Hamlet; Leonard Bast in Howards End; Anna Karenina; and perhaps most agonizingly, the small children in Jude the Obscure.”
- Conversely: “15 Books to Read if You Love a Shocking Plot Twist.” (At some point, Hamlet would have made this list.)
- Stéphane Heuet’s controversial—but wildly popular—graphic novelization of À la recherche du temps perdu has finally hit the UK. One reviewer—a Proust virgin—finds it “a good and gentle place to start. Sumptuous, elegant and beautifully paced, it is completely absorbing. Will it send me to the real thing? Maybe, one day. But whatever happens, this volume is a work of art in its own right. I’ll be forever glad to have spent so much time bent over it.”
- The following link is not included at all because it is illustrated by an image of a dollhouse. On the contrary, that is of no interest to us whatsoever. What is: a tribute to the late novelist Margaret Forster (she died February 8th) and her memoir, My Life in Houses. “As Forster moves from room to flat to house so the progress of her life reflects the pattern woven by childhood, academia, love, marriage, a career as a writer and then motherhood while a series of individuals who have marked her life inhabit the shadows within the structure of the bricks and mortar of the book. From her hard-working mother, her altruistic grandfather George, her two Oxford landladies, the imperious lace-capped Mrs. Brown, ‘straight out of Jane Austen’ and her tiny, deceptively smiley sister Fanny, who ran the house in a state of ‘suppressed fury’, to Sixties dinner parties at home with three of the four Beatles, each character takes up position fleetingly.”
- Let’s just get it out of the way: you are about to read the words Mahler grooves. Besides everything else, this is sort of false advertising; Mahler does not groove so much as write a Sixth Symphony which has been widely interpreted—and reordered—by any number of conductors. The oiid app is pretty groovy, though: it allows you to effectively “step inside a performance,” exploring the recordings of a number of conductors against the score and, in the process, learn a new appreciation for the complex work. As Leonard Bernstein wrote, the Sixth contains “basic elements (including clichés) of German music, driven to their furious ultimate power. Result: Neurotic intensity, irony, extreme sentimentalism, despair … ” In other words, Tuesday.
- Today in language and sensory perception: the verdict is in and English is a laughably inadequate language when it comes to describing scents. We must close the smell deficit, giving the olfactory its due in a mad rush of neologism. “In English, there are only three dedicated smell words—stinky, fragrant, and musty—and the first two are more about the smeller’s subjective experience than about the smelly thing itself … the Jahai people of Malaysia and the Maniq of Thailand use between twelve and fifteen dedicated smell words … ltpit describes the smell of a binturong or bear cat—a two-meter-long animal that looks like a shaggy, black-furred otter, and that famously smells of popcorn … Another word is used for the smell of petrol, smoke, bat droppings, some species of millipede, the root of wild ginger, the wood of wild mango, and more. One seems specific to roasted foods. And one refers to things like squirrel blood, rodents, crushed head lice, and other ‘bloody smells that attract tigers.’ ”
- In her quest to compile a kind of contemporary ars moriendi, Robyn K. Coggins has taken an exhaustive survey of how people would like to die: “Sometimes I think getting sniped while walking down the street is the best way to go. Short, sweet, surprising; no worries, no time for pain. Sure, it’d be traumatic as hell for the people nearby, but who knows—your death might spark a social movement, a yearlong news story that launches media, legal, and criminal justice careers. What a death!”
- I can think of where not to die: in Gore Vidal’s pool, which has apparently fallen into disuse. “The pool was … filled with dead fish with bruised purple backs hovering beneath the dark green surface. Abandoned sun chairs lay by the side.” You can change all that, though. Vidal’s 10,500-square-foot property on the Amalfi coast, La Rondinaia, is for sale for a cool $21.1 million. Invite me over once you’ve fixed the place up. Don’t let me die in the pool.
- Far beyond the walls of the academy, poets like Tyler Knott Gregson are pouring their hearts out online, putting forth page after page of unvarnished verse. They’ve found that most coveted thing: a wide readership. Gregson’s new book of haiku has a first printing of a hundred thousand copies; he “belongs to a new generation of young, digitally astute poets whose loyal online followings have helped catapult them onto the best-seller lists, where poetry books are scarce. These amateur poets are not winning literary awards, and most have never been in a graduate writing workshop … Their appeal lies in the unpolished flavor of their verses, which often read as if they were ripped from the pages of a diary … The rapid rise of Instapoets probably will not shake up the literary establishment, and their writing is unlikely to impress literary critics or purists who might sneer at conflating clicks with artistic quality. But they could reshape the lingering perception of poetry as a creative medium in decline.”
- In the late eighties, the artist Kembra Pfahler decided to sneak subversive commentary into the most accessible vehicle around: a rock band. “The first performance I ever did … was when I came home and looked around and there was nothing in the house except an egg. There wasn’t anything to use, I didn’t have a guitar, I had an egg. So I stood on my head and cracked an egg over it … I decided in 1989 to start a classic rock band … so I could slide the imagery into the consciousness of the viewer a little easier. This was The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black … The band allowed me to squeeze in all the strange images I’d been working on for all these years, what I now call my ‘manual of action,’ my own vocabulary of images: the sewn vagina; the egg piece; all of the costumes, like Abra Kedavour; the flowing anal bead shirt; the shark piece; the upside down Crucifix piece, where I hang upside down on the cross; the wall of vagina; the bowling ball piece. For the most part, the performances happened during the guitar solo, and were over before you knew what happened.”