Victoria was once dotted with train stations that are now, like this one, derelict and abandoned. Some have found new lives, but what’s happened to the rest of the state’s “ghost stations”?
The dean replied paternalistically with a warning that writing a book might be more difficult than Crichton expected. It was at this point that the young medical student revealed that he had already published four books while at Harvard (under a pen name), and had multiple other writing projects in progress, including his first medical thriller, A Case of Need, that would soon win him an Edgar Award for best mystery novel of the year, and his first fully-developed techno-thriller, The Andromeda Strain, which would become a breakout bestseller.
In the near future, Musk and his engineers may yearn for the days when their hardest job was merely landing reusable rockets.
- David Frum on our complicated relationship with Twitter
- Charlie Warzel on the possibility of death by neglect
- Eli Parisar on why Twitter is not a town square
- Ben Werdmüller on why it may be time to move on
For me, Clive Thompson captures things best, explaining how working with all the variables to land a rocket is still a far cry from the complexity of grappling with 400 million Twitter users.
Grappling with the behavior of 400 million Twitter users? Hoo boy.
The complexity is absolutely mind-bending, particularly given all the diversity of human parties involved. You’ve got celebrities with massive followings; people passively surfing Twitter for news; advertisers looking to find useful audiences; shit-stirrers and political actors posting misinfo and disinfo; a silent majority of Twitterfolk who never post at all, and just lurk; foreign agents looking to mess with global politics; friends looking to mostly follow friends; people looking to hate-follow opponents; political figures using Twitter to reach their public; botmasters running legit bots; botmasters running bots that skirt the edge of legitimacy. That’s just a thoroughly incomplete list, generated off the top of my head. But the point is, these users all have very different desires, often opposed to others’ desires. Whoever runs Twitter has to thread the needle on all those clashing goals.
Preface to the 15th year Italian edition of The Black Swan
If you want to be read in the future, make sure you would have been read in the past. We have no idea of what’s in the future, but we have some knowledge of what was in the past. So I make sure I would have been read both in the past and in the present time, that is by both the comtemporaries and the dead. So I speculated that books that would have been relevant twenty years in the past (conditional of course of being relevant today) would be interesting twenty years in the future.
Midnight’s Children is a 1981 novel by Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie, published by Jonathan Cape with cover design by Bill Botten, about India’s transition from British colonial rule to independence and partition. It is a postcolonial, postmodern and magical realist story told by its chief protagonist, Saleem Sinai, set in the context of historical events. The style of preserving history with fictional accounts is self-reflexive.
Midnight’s Children sold over one million copies in the UK alone and won the Booker Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1981. It was awarded the “Booker of Bookers” Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary. In 2003 the novel appeared at number 100 on the BBC’s The Big Read poll which determined the UK’s “best-loved novels” of all time.
Stylistically, the intertwining of the seemingly local within history reminded of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. However, I am not sure Cloudstreet is an example of what Linda Hutcheon’s calls ‘historiographic metafiction’.
According to Hutcheon, in “A Poetics of Postmodernism”, works of historiographic metafiction are “those well-known and popular novels which are both intensely self-reflexive and yet paradoxically also lay claim to historical events and personages”.
It was interesting to read Rushdie’s reflection on what he was attempting with the novel.
As a reader, I have always been attracted to capacious, large-hearted fictions, books that try to gather up large armfuls of the world. When I started to think about the work that would grow into Midnight’s Children, I looked again at the great Russian novels of the 19th century, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, Dead Souls, books of the type that Henry James had called “large, loose, baggy monsters,” large-scale realist novels—though, in the case of Dead Souls, on the very edge of surrealism. And at the great English novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Tristram Shandy (wildly innovative and by no means realist), Vanity Fair (bristling with sharp knives of satire), Little Dorrit (in which the Circumlocution Office, a government department whose purpose is to do nothing, comes close to magic realism), and Bleak House (in which the interminable court case Jarndyce v Jarndyce comes even closer). And at their great French precursor, Gargantua and Pantagruel, which is completely fabulist. I also had in mind the modern counterparts of these masterpieces, The Tin Drum and One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Adventures of Augie March and Catch-22, and the rich, expansive worlds of Iris Murdoch and Doris Lessing (both too prolific to be defined by any single title, but Murdoch’s The Black Prince and Lessing’s The Making of the Representative from Planet 8 have stayed with me).
Personally, I would love to know the process Rushdie used to write such an intricate novel. It was also interesting how old Rushdie was when he wrote it. As I approach middle age, it is a reminder to keep going.
What had been (at the beginning) no bigger than a full stop had expanded into a comma, a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter; now it was bursting into more complex developments, becoming, one might say, a book-perhaps an encyclopaedia-even a whole language… which is to say that the lump in the middle of my mother grew so large, (Page 139 – 140)
Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems-but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible (Page 235)
What grows best in the heat: fantasy; unreason; lust. (Page 237)
‘Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.'(Page 301)
Scraps of memory: this is not how a climax should be written. A climax should surge towards its Himalayan peak; but I am left with shreds, and must jerk towards my crisis like a puppet with broken strings. This is not what I had planned; but perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin. (Once, in a blue room, Ahmed Sinai improvised endings for fairy-tales whose original conclusions he had long ago forgotten; the Brass Monkey and I heard, down the years, all kinds of different versions of the journey of Sinbad, and of the adventures of Hatim Tai… if I began again, would I, too, end in a different place?) Well then: I must content myself with shreds and scraps: as I wrote centuries ago, the trick is to fill in the gaps, guided by the few clues one is given. Most of what matters in our lives takes place in our absence; I must be guided by the memory of a once-glimpsed file (Page 618)
The process of revision should be constant and endless; don’t think I’m satisfied with what I’ve done!
I am obliged to offer no more than this stubborn sentence: It happened that way because that’s how it happened. (Page 668)