“A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children. I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion…Yet it is curious how seldom the all-importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market gardeners.”—In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell digs straight to the core. We all eat, suckling from birth until the day we die. Our need for food connects and divides us, access to it or desperation for it moves the world. Politics, poetry, crime, civilization, revolution are built on plates of food. (via eatdrinkdie)
Okay so it turns out the bus leaves ample time for looking at tumblr—and this quote, and this blog, which we recommend. I’m surrounded by people eating Arby’s.
“More fetching than a girl with a dragon tattoo has always been a girl with a Penguin Classic. With e-books, you have no idea what anyone is reading. This is an incalculable loss, not just to fleeting crushes but to civilization.”—Dwight Garner, our new crush, in his Sunday piece, “The Way We Read Now.” (via classicpenguin)
Not a question, but an answer in contemporary female essayists : I like Molly Young, e.g. her piece on Adderall in n+1
That piece is great. There’s a lot from n+1, in fact: Alice Gregory on Super Sad True Love Story is a book review—a book review!—I still think about often. (Her piece on working at Sotheby’s in the latest issue: Also great.) Elizabeth Gumport and Emily Gould also come to mind. And I have a special fondness for Molly Fischer on ladyblogs.
Oh! And Elif! The Possessed. Everyone looking for this sort of writing must read The Possessed.
Hi Sam! I've been really into essays/nonfiction recently, but I've noticed that my favorite writers -- Geoff Dyer, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Tom Bissell, Wells Tower, David Foster Wallace, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Eliot Weinberger -- are all male. Can you recommend any female authors who are currently doing similar things in terms of style & content (writing long-form, slightly meandering, personal-journalistic essays / cultural commentary)? Thanks!
Hello Anna! Recently I thought about deciding to go by all three of my names, because that seemed like a good trick to becoming a young man essayist: DFW, JJS, GLK, etc. Anyway, there’s Zadie Smith, of course, but she’s probably only one of that stature. (And, duh, Joan Didion.) Eula Biss comes to mind, and Dubravka Ugresic, but she’s Croatian and I think you’ve read her. Chris Kraus and Maggie Nelson seem almost right, but not exactly. I’ve also heard a good thing or two about Meghan Daum. But I don’t know: It does feel like there’s some kind of complicated lack. Anyone want to try to explain?
“Moby-Dick” has inspired many folks to do many things, from students who have pulled their hair out over it to landlubbers who have gone on sea adventures. Patrick Shea, an elementary-school teacher who lives in Brooklyn, has embarked on a singularly eccentric endeavor: over the past three years, he wrote one song for each of the book’s hundred and thirty-six chapters. He recorded them, posted them to his blog, and now he is performing them with his band, Call Me Ishmael, at a weekly residency at Pianos on Thursday nights this month. Each night has a different theme, and on March 8 the performances are devoted to songs about the ocean. The evening includes guests who will perform sea chanteys in the round as well as rousing instrumental surf rock. (Pianos, 158 Ludlow St. 212-505-3733. For more information, visit callmeishmael.org. Through March 29.)
“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.”—Moby-Dick, Melville (via kelsfjord)
I wrote down a bunch of things Jonathan Franzen said at his reading at Tulane last night. Here is part of his response to a question about social networking:
"It’s a free country. People can do whatever they want within the law, and even some things not within the law…I personally was on Facebook for two weeks as part of a piece of journalism I was writing — it seemed sort of dumb to me. Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose…it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters…it’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’…It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium.”