The End is Nigh

The End is Nigh

Wittgenstein's Mistress

Pages Read: 150-200

In this section–the penultimate for our purposes!–two things of philosophical importance happen. Well, two things that we will discuss, as doubtless loads happen, but we can’t examine each one of them for fear of exhausting the ever-dwindling attention span of the modern day reader (whose diet consists mostly of blog posts). Let’s jump right in, shall we?

“So let’s talk about these books,” Nemira says, referring to an episode that begins on page 160. In this anecdote, Kate goes downstairs into the basement and begins to rifle through a box of books, most of which are in languages other than English. “First, what basement is she in? Is this the space where she’s living now?”

“I thought she was in the basement of her house.”

Her house?” Nemira asks, accusatorily.

“Well… the house that she’s living in now. Whether or not that makes it ‘her’ house is a different question.”

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A Cartography of Carcasses

Given that Google co-founder Sergey Brin has the name of someone you would run into in Braavos, it’s a wonder that it took so long for someone to do this: A Google map of the Seven Kingdoms.

Click below to explore the large version, or buy your own high quality print on Etsy.



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Did You Hear? We The Common

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

A great band name, a cool iconoclastic sound, a banjo with a beat behind it, and a nice combination of lo-fi and high-energy. “All they wanted was a villain, a villain, and all they had was me…” I just want to come home on a friday, pour myself a tall whiskey, and play this slightly too loud. Cheers!

– Brook Reeder

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They’ve Got Mail

Im Very Into You

FA review tag

If you’re queer, if you’re punk, particularly if you’re a riot grrl, chances are you’ve read Blood and Guts and High School. If you’re none of the above, Kathy Acker likely falls into that category of people-you-know-you-should-read-in-order-to-score-a-date-with-a-hipster-chick-on-OkC. Like many women continually searching for literary role models in the late ’90s and early 2000s, I spent my late teens and early 20s in awe of Kathy Acker. I didn’t want to write like her and I didn’t really want to be her, but I did find myself enthralled by her work, which was more aggressive and more vibrantly raw than anything I’d read before (and most things I’ve read since). Readers who encounter her now may find themselves unimpressed by her experimentalism and willful perversion, but this is only because her interventions as a radical/queer/punk writer have come into vogue.

To read Kathy Acker is to be at once revolted and turned on, and these were also the emotions that surfaced in reading I’m Very Into You, a collection of her emails with MacKenzie Wark, who is currently a professor of media studies at the New School. I’m Very Into You is a book that has generated some controversy: people seem to agree Acker wouldn’t have wanted these emails published, but she is unable to protest or consent, having died in 1997. (It’s difficult to track down her haunting, disturbing Guardian article “The Gift of Disease” but well worth the effort, unless someone you love is dying of cancer, in which case you should not read it at all, ever.)

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The Oldest Bookstore in the World

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A few days ago I visited the oldest bookstore in the world. It’s called Bertrand. It’s in Lisbon, on Rua Garrett in the Chiado neighborhood. It opened in 1732.

At the oldest bookstore in the world, I bought a UK paperback edition of Mrs. Dalloway, because the book I was planning to read while in Portugal–Jerusalem by Gonçalo M. Tavares, which is translated from Portuguese–turned out to be too depressing for a vacation. I’ll read it when I get home. Mrs. Dalloway, on the other hand, is one of those classics I had never gotten around to. In case you’re wondering, it’s magnificent.

But I want to tell you about the oldest bookstore in the world. In order to do that, first I need to tell you about Lisbon’s soccer team. One of Lisbon’s soccer teams, anyway; the city has two. After visiting the oldest bookstore in the world I went to a soccer match between the Lisbon team Benfica and a smaller Portuguese team. Continue reading


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Fiction Advocate of the Day: United Airlines


Maybe you really want a mediocre crossword puzzle to pass the time. Or you need a map of your destination airport to find the best route to the Chili’s Too. But for the most part, the in-flight magazine hasn’t typically ranked a lot higher than the barf bag as something you ever want to remove from your seat-back pocket.

Well those were the old days — before Rhapsody.

Actually, those are still the current days if you’re not flying first class on United Airlines. But if you are, you will find what the New York Times calls a “lofty literary journal” that publishes “original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and [Anthony] Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.”

This is undoubtedly a cool, if weird, thing. Great writers are getting solid audience exposure and, presumably, actual paychecks from a major company. For United, Rhapsody “brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent,” according to the airline’s managing director of marketing and product development.

Also this: “Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing.” So it also means that at least two people with graduate degrees in creative writing have gotten actual jobs.

Read the full story “Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet”

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The Boomstick Film Club: Grand Piano

Grand Piano

The Boomstick

Watch it with us: Netflix streaming

I would bet any amount of money that Grand Piano (2013) ended up on my Netflix queue because it was written by Damien Chazelle, director of the Oscar-nominated Whiplash. I forgot this some time between adding it to my queue and watching it last week, so it ended up being a pleasant surprise, a fanciful premise executed in a self-aware style.

Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, a former concert pianist who retired five years ago, after the death of his mentor. His wife Emma (Kerry Bishé), a famous actress, persuades him to make a comeback. But during the performance, he receives a message from an unknown assassin: if he plays a single wrong note, he and his wife will be killed by a sniper (John Cusack) hiding in the wings. It’s a silly premise, so I was skeptical when I read the Netflix description. Before he goes onstage, Tom has a heart-to-heart with the conductor (Don McManus) in which he expresses his fears about “choking” when he plays a particularly difficult piece. The conductor assures Tom that he will play wrong notes, but it’ll be fine because the audience will never know.

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Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Patricia O’Toole

Patricia O'Toole

In the first of her series of interviews with women who write nonfiction, E.B. Bartels speaks with acclaimed biographer Patricia O’Toole.

Patricia O’Toole is the author of When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt after the White House, Money and Morals in America: A History, and The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, a National Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. O’Toole teaches in the Writing Program at Columbia University and is a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

EB: What drew you to writing nonfiction?

PO: I started as reporter and wrote fiction on the side––a novel and maybe a dozen short stories. I thought that fiction was what “real writers” did and that journalism and other forms of nonfiction were somehow a lesser art. But when I started writing for myself, I discovered that my imagination was much more turned on when I was narrating true stories than when I was trying to invent a story.

EB: How does being a woman affect what you write?

PO: I don’t think my decision to write nonfiction had anything to do with gender, but my subject matter does. My biographies have women in them, but the main subjects have been men. This is an outgrowth of a lifelong fascination with who has power and privilege and who doesn’t.

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