Book Titles, De-Extinction, Penguins, Marina Abramovic, Jane Austen, Dracula


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The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train

Emily St John Mandel | Five Thirty Eight | 27th October 2016

Analysis of 800 popular recent novels with “girl” in the title. In two-thirds of the books the titular “girl” is in fact a woman. Four-fifths of the “girl” books are written by women; but the “girl” is three times as likely to get killed or to disappear in the course of the story if the author is a man. After Girl With Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and Girl On A Train, sales of “girl” books are still rising — so expect more. “There are five different galleys on the shelf with ‘girl’ in the title pubbing this fall” (1,800 words)

Inside The Frozen Zoo

Zach Baron | GQ | 27th October 2016

A row of liquid-nitrogen tanks somewhere in southern California contains the “densest vertebrate biological diversity on the planet”. Here the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research freezes cells from animals extant and extinct, from which lost species might some day be regenerated. It keeps the work quiet, for good reason. “If you tell humans that we can bring these animals back, will anybody work to save them in the first place? No. We’ll eat them at twice the rate” (6,300 words)

What’s A Woggin?

Cara Giaimo | Atlas Obscura | 26th October 2016

In old whaling slang, a “woggin” is a penguin. “Like all professionals, 18C whalers had their share of strange jargon. A ‘blanket’ was a massive sheet of blubber. ‘Gurry’ was the sludge of oil and guts that covered the deck after a kill. A ‘gooney’ was an albatross.” A whaler might live on woggins and swiles for weeks. But how did sailors in the northern hemisphere come to report catching woggins, when penguins live only in the southern hemisphere? A New Bedford schoolboy had the answer (1,200 words)

Marina Abramovic At 70

Carl Swanson | The Cut | 17th October 2016

Marina Abramovic was seen as an “avant-garde grande dame” whose career had peaked when MoMA gave her a retrospective in 2010. But the show relaunched her as a post-modern celebrity, thanks to her decision to sit in the museum atrium throughout the three-month run “offering up her gaze to visitors who stood in line to sit opposite her, one by one, all day long”. She became at once “the most famous performance artist in the world” and “a kind of shambolic mother goddess” (4,700 words)

The Publisher Who Rejected Jane Austen

Shelley De Wees | Literary Hub | 26th October 2016

In November 1797 a letter arrived on the desk of London publisher Thomas Cadell offering him “a Manuscript Novel, comprised in three Vols. about the length of Miss Burney’s Evelina“. The novelist was the “unknown daughter of an unknown country parson”. Cadell sent the reply, “Declined by Return of Post”, which was reasonable if rude — and a tragic error for English literature. The manuscript was Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, which went unpublished for another 16 years (1,700 words)

Something In The Blood

David J. Skal | Paris Review | 27th October 2016

How Bram Stoker created Dracula. “Stoker judiciously adapted the basics of vampirism as set forth in the accounts of eastern European vampire panics by the French biblical scholar Dom Augustin Calmet. Here he found the time-honoured methods of vampire disposal, used on suspicious corpses: a sharp stake through the heart, decapitation, and cremation. Stoker intended his vampires to be reanimated corpses, not — as some traditions held — the body’s astral projection of its ghostly double” (1,200 words)

Video of the day: 01012016D

What to expect:

Drone footage from the suburbs of Bangkok, by Michael Paul Young (2’51”)

Thought for the day

How good bad music sounds, when we march against an enemy
Friedrich Nietszche

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