What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
The thing, I suppose, is that I’ve never been very good at knowing my own mind. As a child I drove my parents half-crazy with my endless deferring of decisions about the least consequential of matters. Would I have a cornetto or a choc-ice? Would I even have an ice cream at all, actually? Or would my interests in fact be better served at this point by some kind of biscuit-based snack?
There’s nothing more vulnerable than singing, especially if you’re not a terribly good singer.
There is something about being the parent of a very small child, a child who has not yet begun to form words, that has exerted a subtle pressure on the way I think about language. In general, my investment in words is heavy and more or less literal, in the sense that they are the means by which I make, at least in theory, my living. Since my son was born six months ago, the first way in which my relationship with words has changed is this: I haven’t been able to get nearly enough of the bastards down on paper.
A novelist’s work is often a strategy (I don’t mean the author need be aware of this) for dealing with some personal dilemma.
Parks sees Italian culture with the more or less detached clarity of the outsider, but has spent enough time living in the place to feel justified in critiquing it from within. This liminal stance gives the book an interesting frisson of internal conflict. He doesn’t want to become irretrievably Italian, but at the same time he’s comically resentful of the ways in which his Englishness remains an issue in his everyday dealings with his not-quite compatriots.
"If you met a hatchet-wielding hitchhiker in real life, would you laugh, or would you cross the street?
'It’s important to realize how the funniness in these videos is really close to something that’s desperately unfunny,' says Mark O’Connell, who wrote Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever.
He thinks of Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the alleged Boston bombers, who became affectionately known as Uncle Ruslan by the collective public, and who was widely memed for calling his nephews ‘losers.’
'This is a guy who is undergoing an incredibly traumatic experience, and then he becomes this ironic folk hero,' O’Connell says. 'It’s really weird.'”
Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker: Why did we love him? by Monica Hesse