January 11, 2012KR BlogBlog

Short Takes: For Those About to Write

In a Letter to the Editor printed in a 1984 edition of Amherst College’s student newspaper, the Amherst Student, David Foster Wallace (then just “Dave Wallace ‘85”) takes on an AC/DC-blasting dorm resident and mentions on a poet you may or may not be familiar with.

Thanks to the archivists at the Guggenheim Museum, you can now read out-of-print volumes published by the institution online. For free.

How can you not love an open mic reading series titled “You’re Going to Die”?

Pico Iyer, defying that Strunk and White aphorism to “omit needless words,” defends “the long sentence: the collection of clauses that is so many-chambered and lavish and abundant in tones and suggestions, that has so much room for near-contradiction and ambiguity and those places in memory or imagination that can’t be simplified, or put into easy words, that it allows the reader to keep many things in her head and heart at the same time, and to descend, as by a spiral staircase, deeper into herself and those things that won’t be squeezed into an either/or. With each clause, we’re taken further and further from trite conclusions — or that at least is the hope — and away from reductionism, as if the writer were a dentist, saying ‘Open wider’ so that he can probe the tender, neglected spaces in the reader (though in this case it’s not the mouth that he’s attending to but the mind).”

Speaking of Strunk and White, two Columbia grad students converted the magnum opus of the two contentious authors into a rap.

…And artist Maira Kalman has produced illustrations for an edition of the famous grammar manual that waters down the decidedly administrative look and feel of the original.

If the medium is the message, is it possible, as Daniel Knowles argues, that portable e-readers are best for essays—not too short or long for the commute ride home?

In 1961, Norman Mailer was excused from the 92nd Street Y after reading an apparently “obscene” poem. Of course, the stories about Mailer are endless—but what about some other literary figures who’ve had a harder time playing nice with others?

(images via the Guggenheim Museum)