How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
"I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories." Amber Sparks writes about "lowbrow" influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.
"Chris Lloyd adores a minuet / the Ballets Russes and crepes suzettes / but Foucault loves to rock n' roll / a hot dog makes him lose control... what a crazy pair!"James Yeh and a plate of Korean barbecue co-star in: My Dinner with Shteyngart.Deborah Eisenberg reads Wells Tower.Open Letters Monthly looks at Landscape in Concrete, a lost classic from the World War II-era featuring a not-so-ÜbermenschWhat planet are translators from? Paul Verhaeghen spills the beans, in remarks from the PEN festival, (via Three percent)Novelist David Francis, guest-posting at TEV, pits the writer's interests against those of the publishing industry.W.W. Norton "friends" the Dalkey Archive.Richard Ford tells Nam Le, "Giving a colleague a bad review is like . . . seeing a hitchhiker and rather than picking the hitchhiker up, you run over him."The Second Pass reappraises Denis Johnson's 1983 Angels (whose characters reappear in Tree of Smoke).Finally, a piece on Reif Larsen's T.S. Spivet that doesn't mention the size of his advance.After only a year, Wyatt Mason's fine Sentences blog reaches a full stop.An amazing and cute fashion blog from a 13-year-old.The indie bookstore tour writ large: novelist Mark Fitten is visiting 100 indie bookstores and writing about it. (via Maud)Wikipedia find of the week: The Jimmy Carter rabbit incident
From Hunger Games's Katniss to Divergent's Tris, today's YA heroines are confident, intelligent, powerful, and always skinny. At The Atlantic, Julianne Ross argues that this scrawny stereotype ends up belittling the heroines' independence and strength. "Just as women are expected to be sexual but not slutty, pure but not prudish, heroines should be strong but not buff."