The Millions’ Year in Reading, one of the my favorite events in the online world, has begun! Sample this hilarious bit from a Gary Shteyngart review –
“I always had difficulty with the relative lack of emotion in English lit. I developed several strategies to make my reading easier. First, I would insert some hot Russian emotion into the chilly scenes by hand. So if a character is carrying on some abstruse conversation about standing for parliament or whatever, I would interrupt it in my mind with: “And then Casaubon Casaubonovich threw himself around her neck and cried violently.” Problem solved. Then I decided to Yiddishize some of the writing to make it more haimish. Take for example the first line of David Copperstein: “Whether I shall turn out to be the mensch of my own life, or whether that station will be held by some other putz, this spiel must show.” RT
Joan Aiken‘s website is surely one of the most gorgeously designed author websites I’ve ever seen. Like stepping straight into a fantasy land.
Celeste Ng at The Millions highlights 5 Series You Probably Missed as a Kid (But Should Read as an Adult). I’ve read half of these and HIGHLY recommend them, especially Half Magic, and am adding the other half to my to-read list. RT
Gorgeous, heartbreaking. David Mitchell on translating an autistic Japanese teen’s memoir, and his own son’s autism. “The conclusion is that both emotional poverty and an aversion to company are not symptoms of autism but consequences of autism – its harsh lockdown on self-expression and society’s near-pristine ignorance about what’s happening inside autistic heads.” RT
The ‘verse has been ablaze with the ending of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series (which is a great series, by the way. Veronica Roth speaks out. I think she made a brave choice. But I would have hated her for it had I found out only upon reading the book. RT
More The Millions’ goodness, making me want to re-read Colm Toibin’s The Master, which I read prior to reading Henry James. “He feels love profoundly, for women and men alike, but he can’t act on it in any way that might compromise his freedom as an artist, and instead he pours out his love for them in his novels after they’re dead. That, in this case, his love for Minny Temple gave us The Portrait of a Lady may be enough for some. It isn’t for me. As much as I care about books, I think people matter more in the end.” RT
Surprisingly, according to this roundup of reviews for it via Entertainment Weekly, it appears that the star-laden The Counselor was a very bad film. RT
Nothing I love better than a blistering review. Jason Diamond of Flavorwire offers this one – “Franco’s book is exactly what you’d imagine, except maybe a little worse (think: concussed David Foster Wallace fanboy mixes booze and cough syrup before trying to write a novel about how difficult it is to be an actor).” RT
On the other hand, I also love positive, brilliantly written reviews, of which this, of the Joaquin Phoenix film Her -is one – “When Theo asks Amy if he’s a freak for falling into love with Samantha, her response is perfect: “I think anyone who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s like a socially acceptable form of insanity.” One half of the relationship at the center of Her may lack a physical form, but it is nonetheless a film about the universality of romance: its longing, its intensity, and its transformative power — for the best, and the worst. The outcome of this highly unconventional relationship is warm and funny and tragic, all at once. And so is this very lovely film.” RT
If you had a chance to proofread unreleased Tolstoy works – would you? You know that you would quit your day job. This story from the New Yorker is the stuff of literary daydreams. “That was when they hit on the idea of crowdsourcing, Tolstaya said. “It’s according to Leo Tolstoy’s ideas, to do it with the help of all people around the world—vsem mirom—even the world’s hardest task can be done with the help of everyone.” RT
…and, we’re back to Franco. As much as it pains me to put the man anywhere within rubbing distance of Tolstoy. “Franco offers up less material in that regard than you might think. Hard to make pseudo-intellectual jokes at the expense of a guy who cheerfully made Your Highness. Hard to make dumb-stoner jokes at the expense of a guy who spends so much time pursuing advanced degrees.” RT
Brilliant article on HIMYM‘s casting of “the Mother” – “It is unfortunate that American women are attached to the notion that there is no way that the most enthusiastically long-winded courtship story packaged in the form of an 8-year television show could be based around a perfectly, fabulously, “normal” girl. (To be sure, Milioti’s character, as I’ve mentioned, has proven and will prove to be anything but normal, but I use the term only to suggest that she is outside the norm of what our Hollywood-monopolized imaginations have come to expect for women deserving of a great love). –Cristin Milioti is a Win for Women
Stephen Colbert crowing over his Emmy victory over Jon Stewart is both hilarious and heart-warming RT
Flavorwire has a gorgeous list of 30 amazing bookstore windows around the world. My favorite is the building front with authors’ faces, including Virginia Woolf’s, painted on it. RT
This recipe for crepes with caramelized apples and ricotta cheese looks decadent and I plan to make it soon. RT
Maureen Johnson brilliantly responds to David Gilmour’s assertion that he never teaches women writers-
“To which I say, okay, fine. I get it. Because I know your problem.
Literature is kind of full of assholes.
And that is okay. Some great books have been written by assholes. I am looking at my shelf and it is full of beloved books by known assholes, and that’s fine. Assholism is one of the most common afflictions of literature. Certainly literature and writing programs are full of them. They are like wildlife refuges for assholes.” RT
New Van Gogh Identified – A painting that sat for six decades in a Norwegian industrialist’s attic after he was told it was a fake Van Gogh was pronounced the real thing Monday, making it the first full-size canvas by the tortured Dutch artist to be discovered since 1928. RT Yahoo
This has been everywhere today, but is also the most joy-filled, magical, breathtaking celebration of the human body and the art of motion that I’ve seen in years. Photographer Jordan Matter crafted a stunning series of ballet dancers striking poses in mundane situations. Gorgeous and magical. RT Dancers Among Us
The Millions reviews J.M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus–
“That’s just gibberish. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“It does mean something. It means something to me.”
“That may be so but it doesn’t mean anything to me. Language has to mean something to me as well as to you, otherwise it doesn’t count as language.”
In a gesture that he must have picked up from Inés, the boy tosses his head dismissively. “La la fa fa yam ying! Look at me!”
He looks into the boy’s eyes. For the briefest of moments he sees something there. He has no name for it. It is like — that is what occurs to him in the moment. Like a fish that wriggles loose as you try to grasp it. But not like a fish — no, like like a fish. Or like like like a fish. On and on. Then the moment is over, and he is simply standing in silence, staring.
“Did you see?” says the boy. RT The Millions
Last but not least, on the tenth anniversary of The X-Files, Gillian Anderson writes the most adorable letter ever to the world, in which she thanks David Duchovny for wearing those speedos. RT Pajiba
What you’re left with is a funny film that never gets really funny. It’s fine, but not thrilling, the film version of eating at Chili’s. – FSR on “We’re the Millers”
Gratified to see that there’s a reason I don’t like Jonathan Franzen – “I think she was surprised that I wasn’t moaning with shock and pleasure,” Jonathan Franzen says of his phone call with Oprah Winfrey in Boris Kachka’s Hothouse, recently excerpted at Slate. “I’d been working nine years on the book and FSG had spent a year trying to make a best-seller of it. It was our thing. She was an interloper, coming late, and with an expectation of slavish gratitude and devotion for the favor she was bestowing.” -A Handy Guide to Why Jonathan Franzen Pisses You Off, RT Flavorwire
“Creativity requires giving myself away. It involves nicking an artery somewhere and seeing what bleeds out, then using what’s there constructively and thoughtfully. In this way, creation is the very opposite of consumption; it’s a generous outward motion. There is no greed in it. It’s communication, born of a desire to participate in and engage with the world, instead of merely absorbing it.” – RT Lawless Gentile
Birchbox presents an incredibly helpful guide explaining what BB cream, CC cream, and the like are – “Unlike lipstick, which is meant to be seen, base makeup is supposed to be your invisible ally, masking imperfections, evening out skin tone, and creating a perfect canvas for the rest of your makeup—without anyone knowing it’s actually there. Since that’s easier said than done, we’ve created a coverage guide to help you choose which formula is right for you.” –The Base Makeup Coverage
Woot! No words to describe this awesome. “Good news for people who like to watch people other than white men host their evening news programs: PBS has grabbed Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff to co-host NewsHour, the channel’s long-running nightly news program. According to PBS, “This will mark the first time a network broadcast has had a female co-anchor team.” Bonus diversity points because one of them isn’t white!” – RT Jezebel
Middlemarch is full of delicious sentences.
“Souls have complexions too. What suits one may not suit another.”
“This hope was not unmixed with the glow of proud delight – the joyous maiden surprise that she was chosen by the man whom her admiration had chosen.”
Also, no-one can sum up a character quite as dismissively as the 19th-century Victorian writers.
“It was hardly a year since they had come to live at Tipton Grange with their uncle, a man of nearly sixty, of acquiescent temper, miscellaneous opinions, and uncertain vote.”