Hear the Only Recording of Raymond Carver Reading “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

This is sure­ly worth a quick men­tion: Today we added to our list of Free Audio Books a record­ing of Ray­mond Carv­er read­ing his most famous sto­ry, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Taped in a Palo Alto hotel room in 1983 for a new radio series called Tell Me a Sto­ry, it’s the only known record­ing of Carv­er read­ing his sig­na­ture sto­ry. The read­ing itself starts at the 6:00 mark. Start lis­ten­ing here (or stream it above).

In 2009, Stephen King called Ray­mond Carv­er “sure­ly the most influ­en­tial writer of Amer­i­can short sto­ries in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry.” If you’d like to get deep­er into his lit­er­ary world — a lit­er­ary world that explores “the dim ache in the non­de­script lives of aspir­ing stu­dents, down-and-out­ers, din­er wait­ress­es, sales­men, and unhap­pi­ly hitched blue-col­lar cou­ples,” as Josh Jones once put it — you can refer back to a pre­vi­ous post where we fea­tured Richard Ford, Anne Enright, and David Means read­ing sev­er­al oth­er Carv­er sto­ries.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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115 Books on Lena Dunham & Miranda July’s Bookshelves at Home (Plus a Bonus Short Play)


Miran­da-july-read­ing” by Alex­is Bar­rera / Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons.

Ah, the joys of din­ing at a new friend’s home, know­ing soon­er or lat­er, one’s host­ess’ blad­der or some bit of last minute meal prepa­ra­tion will dic­tate that one will be left alone to rifle the titles on her book­shelf with aban­don. No med­i­cine cab­i­net can com­pete with this peek into the psy­che.

Pity that some of the peo­ple whose book­shelves I’d be most curi­ous to see are the least like­ly to open their homes to me. That’s why I’d like to thank The Strand book­store for pro­vid­ing a vir­tu­al peek at the shelves of film­mak­ers-cum-authors Miran­da July and Lena Dun­ham.  (Pre­vi­ous par­tic­i­pants in the Authors Book­shelf series include just-plain-reg­u­lar authors George Saun­ders, Edwidge Dan­ti­cat and the late David Fos­ter Wal­lace whose con­tri­bu­tions were select­ed by biog­ra­ph­er D.T. Max.)


Lena Dun­ham” by David Shankbone — Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons.

I wish Dun­ham and July had offered up some per­son­al com­men­tary to explain their hand-picked titles. (Sure­ly their homes are lined with books. Sure­ly each list is but a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­pling, one shelf from hun­dreds. Hmm. Inter­est­ing. Did they run back and forth between var­i­ous rooms, curat­ing with a vengeance, or is this a case of what­ev­er hap­pened to be in the case clos­est at hand when dead­line loomed?)

Which book’s a long­time favorite?

Which the lit­er­ary equiv­a­lent of com­fort food?

Are there things that only made the cut because the author is a friend?

Both women are cel­e­brat­ed sto­ry­tellers. Sure­ly, there are sto­ries here beyond the ones con­tained between two cov­ers.

But no mat­ter. The lack of accom­pa­ny­ing anec­dotes means we now have the fun of invent­ing imag­i­nary din­ner par­ties:


ME: (stand­ing in the liv­ing room, call­ing through the kitchen door, a glass of wine in hand) Whoa, Lena, I can’t believe you’ve got Impor­tant Arti­facts and Per­son­al Prop­er­ty from the Col­lec­tion of Lenore Doolan and Harold Mor­ris, Includ­ing Books, Street Fash­ion, and Jew­el­ry!

LENA DUNHAM: (polite, but dis­tract­ed by a pot of red sauce) I know, isn’t that one great?

ME: So great! Where’d you buy it?

LENA DUNHAM: Uh, The Strand, I think.

ME: Me too! Such a great con­ceit, that book. Wish I’d come up with it!

LENA DUNHAM: I know what you mean.

ME: Ooh, you’ve got Was She Pret­ty? 

LENA DUNHAM: Hmm? Oh, yeah, my friend Miran­da gave me that.

ME: (glanc­ing between the two books.) Wait! Leanne Sharp­ton. Leanne Sharp­ton. I didn’t real­ize it’s the same author.


ME: The per­son who wrote Was She Pret­ty? also wrote Impor­tant Arti­facts and Per­son­al Prop­er­ty-

ME & LENA DUNHAM IN UNISON: — from the Col­lec­tion of Lenore Doolan and Harold Mor­ris, Includ­ing Books, Street Fash­ion, and Jew­el­ry!

LENA DUNHAM: Got­ta love that title.

ME: Why do you have all these kids’ books?

LENA DUNHAM: Those are from my child­hood.

ME: (slid­ing an unnamed title off the shelf, eyes widen­ing as I read the shock­ing­ly graph­ic per­son­al inscrip­tion on the fly­leaf) Oh?

LENA DUNHAM: I real­ly relate to Eloise.

ME: (hasti­ly slid­ing the vol­ume back onto the shelf before Lena can catch me snoop­ing) Oh yeah…ha ha.

LENA DUNHAM: Are you the one who likes graph­ic nov­els?

ME: Me? Yes!!!

LENA DUNHAM: Yeah. My friend Miran­da does too.

ME:  That’s fun­ny - Sex and the Sin­gle Girl right next to Of Human Bondage.

LENA DUNHAM: (curs­ing under her breath)

ME: Need help?

LENA DUNHAM: No, it’s just this damn …arrrggh. I hate this cook­book!

ME: (bright­ly) Smells good!

LENA DUNHAM: … crap.

ME: So, is Adam Dri­ver com­ing? Or Ray or any­body?

LENA DUNHAM: (testi­ly)  You mean Alex Kar­povsky?

ME: (flus­tered) Oh, ha ha, yes! Alex! … I sent him a Face­book request and he accept­ed.

LENA DUNHAM: (mut­ters under her breath)

ME: Design Sponge? Real­ly? What’s some­one in your shoes doing with a bunch of DIY dec­o­rat­ing books?

LENA DUNHAM: (cold­ly) Research.


Actu­al­ly, maybe it is bet­ter to admire one’s idols’ book­shelves from afar.

I’m cha­grined that I don’t rec­og­nize more of their mod­ern fic­tion picks. That wasn’t such a prob­lem when I was mea­sur­ing myself against the 430 books on Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s read­ing list.

Thank heav­en for old stand­bys like Madame Bovary.

In all sin­cer­i­ty, I was glad that Dun­ham didn’t try to mask her love of home decor blog books.

And that July includ­ed her husband’s mono­graph, Our Bod­ies, Our­selves and a hand­book to rais­ing self-con­fi­dent babies.

One’s shelves, after all, are a mat­ter of taste. So, cel­e­brate the sim­i­lar­i­ties, take their rec­om­men­da­tions under advise­ment, see below and read what you like!



A Time for Every­thing  — Karl Ove Knaus­gaard

A Very Young Dancer — Jill Kre­mentz

Alice James: A Biog­ra­phy  — Jean Strouse

Ani­ma­cies: Biopol­i­tics, Racial Mat­ter­ing, and Queer Affect  — Mel Y. Chen

Arthur Tress: The Dream Col­lec­tor — John Mina­han

Build­ing Sto­ries  — Chris Ware

Crud­dy: An Illus­trat­ed Nov­el  — Lyn­da Bar­ry

Diaries, 1910–1923  — Franz Kaf­ka

Do the Win­dows Open?  — Julie Hecht

Dorothy Ian­none: Seek The Extremes! (v.1) — Bar­bara Vinken, Sabine Folie

Edge­wise: A Pic­ture of Cook­ie Mueller  — Chloe Grif­fin

Embryo­ge­n­e­sis — Richard Grossinger

Friedl Kubel­ka Vom Groller  — Melanie Ohne­mus

Amer­i­can War  — Har­rell Fletch­er

Han­nah Höch: Album (Eng­lish and Ger­man Edi­tion) — Han­nah Höch

How to Build a Girl  — Caitlin Moran

Humil­i­a­tion  — Wayne Koesten­baum

It’s OK Not to Share and Oth­er Rene­gade Rules for Rais­ing Com­pe­tent and Com­pas­sion­ate Kids  — Heather Shu­mak­er

King Kong The­o­ry  — Vir­ginie Despentes

Leav­ing the Atocha Sta­tion  — Ben Lern­er

Light­ning Rods  — Helen DeWitt

Lost at Sea: The Jon Ron­son Mys­ter­ies  — Jon Ron­son

Maid­en­head  — Tama­ra Faith Berg­er

Man V. Nature: Sto­ries  — Diane Cook

Mike Mills: Graph­ics Films  — Mike Mills

Napa Val­ley His­tor­i­cal Ecol­o­gy Atlas: Explor­ing a Hid­den Land­scape of Trans­for­ma­tion and Resilience  — Robin Grossinger

Need More Love  — Aline Komin­sky Crumb

Our Bod­ies, Our­selves (Com­plete­ly Revised and Updat­ed Ver­sion)  — Boston Wom­en’s Health Book Col­lec­tive

Jim Gold­berg: Rich and Poor  — Jim Gold­berg

San­ja Ivekovic: Sweet Vio­lence  — Rox­ana Mar­co­ci

Sophie Calle: The Address Book  — Sophie Calle

Star­ing Back  — Chris Mark­er

Taryn Simon: A Liv­ing Man Declared Dead and Oth­er Chap­ters, I‑XVIII — Homi Bhab­ha, Geof­frey Batchen

Tete-a-Tete: The Tumul­tuous Lives & Loves of Simone De Beau­voir and Jean-Paul Sartre  — Hazel Row­ley

The Hour of the Star  — Clarice Lispec­tor

The Illus­trat­ed I Ching — R.L. Wing

Two Kinds of Decay: A Mem­oir  — Sarah Man­gu­so

Traf­fic  — Ken­neth Gold­smith

Two Seri­ous Ladies  — Jane Bowles

Was She Pret­ty?  — Leanne Shap­ton

What is the What: The Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of Valenti­no Achak Deng: A Nov­el  — Dave Eggers

Why Did I Ever  — Mary Robi­son

Women in Clothes  — Sheila Heti

Work­ing: Peo­ple Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do  — Studs Terkel

Your Self-Con­fi­dent Baby: How to Encour­age Your Child’s Nat­ur­al Abil­i­ties — From the Very Start  — Mag­da Ger­ber

Far from the Tree  — Andrew Solomon

How Should a Per­son Be?  — Sheila Heti



The Girls’ Guide to Hunt­ing and Fish­ing  — Melis­sa Bank

A Lit­tle His­to­ry of the World  — E. H. Gom­brich

Anne of Green Gables  — L.M. Mont­gomery

Apart­ment Ther­a­py Presents: Real Homes, Real Peo­ple, Hun­dreds of Real Design Solu­tions  — Maxwell Gilling­ham-Ryan

Ariel: The Restored Edi­tion  — Sylvia Plath

Bad Fem­i­nist: Essays  — Rox­ane Gay

Bas­tard Out of Car­oli­na (20th Anniver­sary Edi­tion)  — Dorothy Alli­son

Blue is the Warmest Col­or  — Julie Maroh

Brighton Rock  — Gra­ham Greene

Caved­weller  - Dorothy Alli­son

Coun­try Girl: A Mem­oir  — Edna O’Brien

Crazy Sal­ad and Scrib­ble Scrib­ble: Some Things About Women and Notes on Media  — Nora Ephron

Design Sponge at Home  — Grace Bon­ney

Din­ner: A Love Sto­ry: It All Begins at the Fam­i­ly Table  — Jen­ny Rosen­stra­ch

Eleanor & Park  — Rain­bow Row­ell

Eloise  — Kay Thomp­son

Eloise In Moscow  — Kay Thomp­son

Eloise In Paris  — Kay Thomp­son

Fan­ny At Chez Panisse  — Alice Waters

Good­bye, Colum­bus and Five Short Sto­ries  — Philip Roth

Hol­i­days on Ice  — David Sedaris

Impor­tant Arti­facts and Per­son­al Prop­er­ty from the Col­lec­tion of Lenore Doolan and Harold Mor­ris, Includ­ing Books, Street Fash­ion, and Jew­el­ry  — Leanne Shap­ton

Lentil  — Robert McCloskey

Love Poems  — Nik­ki Gio­van­ni

Love, an Index (McSweeney’s Poet­ry Series)  — Rebec­ca Lin­den­berg

Love, Nina: A Nan­ny Writes Home  - Nina Stibbe

Madame Bovary: Provin­cial Ways  — Gus­tave Flaubert

NW: A Nov­el  — Zadie Smith

Of Human Bondage  — W. Som­er­set Maugh­am

Ran­dom Fam­i­ly: Love, Drugs, Trou­ble, and Com­ing of Age in the Bronx  — Adri­an Nicole LeBlanc

Rebec­ca  — Daphne Du Mau­ri­er

Remod­elista  — Julie Carl­son

Select­ed Sto­ries, 1968–1994  - Alice Munro

Sex and the Sin­gle Girl  — Helen Gur­ley Brown

She’s Come Undone  — Wal­ly Lamb

Some­where Towards the End: A Mem­oir  — Diana Athill

Stet: An Edi­tor’s Life  - Diana Athill

Sula  — Toni Mor­ri­son

Sum­mer Blonde  — Adri­an Tomine

Super Nat­ur­al Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Nat­ur­al Foods Kitchen  — Hei­di Swan­son

Tenth of Decem­ber  - George Saun­ders

Tess of the D’Urbervilles  — Thomas Hardy

The Boys of My Youth  - Jo Ann Beard

The Col­lect­ed Sto­ries of Lydia Davis  — Lydia Davis

The Dud Avo­ca­do  — Elaine Dundy

The Impor­tant Book  — Mar­garet Wise Brown

The Jour­nal­ist and the Mur­der­er  — Janet Mal­colm

The Liars’ Club: A Mem­oir  — Mary Karr

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Nov­el  — Adelle Wald­man

The Mar­riage Plot  — Jef­frey Eugenides

The Phi­los­o­phy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)  - Andy Warhol

The Sto­ry of Fer­di­nand  — Munro Leaf

The Woman in White  - Wilkie Collins

The Writ­ing Class  — Jin­cy Wil­lett

This Is My Life  - Meg Wolitzer

Tiny Beau­ti­ful Things: Advice on Love and Life from ‘Dear Sug­ar’  - Cheryl Strayed

Wall­flower At the Orgy  — Nora Ephron

Was She Pret­ty?  — Leanne Shap­ton

We Have Always Lived In the Cas­tle  — Shirley Jack­son

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay  — Daniel Mark Epstein

What She Saw…  — Lucin­da Rosen­feld

What the Liv­ing Do: Poems  — Marie Howe

While I Was Gone  - Sue Miller

With or With­out You: A Mem­oir  — Domeni­ca Rut

Women in Clothes  — Sheila Heti

via Scrib­n­er Books

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Miran­da July’s Quirky Film Presents Some­body, the New App That Con­nects Strangers in the Real World

David Fos­ter Wallace’s Love of Lan­guage Revealed by the Books in His Per­son­al Library

The 430 Books in Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Library: How Many Have You Read?

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Dostoevsky Draws a Picture of Shakespeare: A New Discovery in an Old Manuscript


Dos­to­evsky, a doo­dler? Sure­ly not! Great Russ­ian brow fur­rowed over the mean­ing of love and hate and faith and crime, div­ing into squalid hells, ascend­ing to the heights of spir­i­tu­al ecsta­sy, tak­ing a gasp of heav­en­ly air, then back down to the depths again to churn out the pages and hun­dreds of char­ac­ter arcs—that’s Dostoevsky’s style. Doo­dles? No. And yet, even Dos­to­evsky, the acme of lit­er­ary seri­ous­ness, made time for the odd pen and ink car­i­ca­ture amidst his bouts of exis­ten­tial angst, pover­ty, and ill health. We’ve shown you some of them before—indeed, some very well ren­dered por­traits and archi­tec­tur­al draw­ings in the pages of his man­u­scripts. Now, just above, see yet anoth­er, a recent­ly dis­cov­ered tiny por­trait of Shake­speare in pro­file, etched in the mar­gins of a page from one of his angsti­est nov­els, The Pos­sessed, avail­able in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.


Annie Mar­tirosyan in The Huff­in­g­ton Post points out some fam­i­ly resem­blance between the Shake­speare doo­dle and the famous brood­ing oil por­trait of Dos­to­evsky him­self, by Vasi­ly Per­ov. She also notes the ring stain and sundry drips over the “hard­ly leg­i­ble… scrib­bles” and “mar­gin­a­lia… scat­tered naugh­ti­ly across the page” is from the author’s tea. “Feodor Mikhailovich was an avid tea drinker,” and he would con­sume his favorite bev­er­age while walk­ing “to and fro in the room and mak[ing] up his char­ac­ters’ speech­es out loud….” Can’t you just see it? Under the draw­ing (see it clos­er in the inset)—in one of the many exam­ples of the author’s painstak­ing hand­writ­ing practice—is the name “Atkin­son.”

Mar­tirosyan sums up a some­what com­pli­cat­ed aca­d­e­m­ic dis­cus­sion between Dos­to­evsky experts Vladimir Zakharov and Boris Tikhomirov about the source of this name. This may be of inter­est to lit­er­ary spe­cial­ists. But per­haps it suf­fices to say that both schol­ars “have now con­firmed the authen­tic­i­ty of the image as Dostoevsky’s draw­ing of Shake­speare,” and that the name and draw­ing may have no con­cep­tu­al con­nec­tion. It’s also fur­ther proof that Dos­to­evsky, like many of us, turned to mak­ing pic­tures when, says schol­ar Kon­stan­tin Barsht—whom Col­in Mar­shall quot­ed in our pre­vi­ous post—“the words came slow­est.” In fact, some of the author’s char­ac­ter descrip­tions, Barsht claims, “are actu­al­ly the descrip­tions of doo­dled por­traits he kept rework­ing until they were right.”

So why Shake­speare? Per­haps it’s sim­ply that the great psy­cho­log­i­cal nov­el­ist felt a kin­ship with the “inven­tor of the human.” After all, Dos­to­evsky has been called, in those mem­o­rable words from Count Mel­choir de Vogue, “the Shake­speare of the lunatic asy­lum.”

via The Huff­in­g­ton Post

h/t OC read­er Nick

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky Draws Elab­o­rate Doo­dles In His Man­u­scripts

The Dig­i­tal Dos­to­evsky: Down­load Free eBooks & Audio Books of the Russ­ian Novelist’s Major Works

Watch a Hand-Paint­ed Ani­ma­tion of Dostoevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridicu­lous Man”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Flannery O’Connor to Lit Professor: “My Tone Is Not Meant to Be Obnoxious. I’m in a State of Shock”


When Flan­nery O’Connor start­ed writ­ing in the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tu­ry, short sto­ries — or at least fash­ion­able short sto­ries that were pub­lished in The New York­er –unfold­ed del­i­cate­ly reveal­ing gos­samer-like lay­ers of expe­ri­ence. O’Connor’s sto­ries, in con­trast, were pun­gent, grotesque, often vio­lent moral tales deal­ing with unabashed­ly Chris­t­ian themes. They def­i­nite­ly weren’t fash­ion­able at the time. Yet since her untime­ly death at age 39 in 1964, O’Connor’s rep­u­ta­tion has only increased. Even for read­ers who aren’t immersed in Catholic the­ol­o­gy, her sto­ries — which pair out­landish, often com­ic char­ac­ters with har­row­ing, exis­ten­tial sit­u­a­tions — have a way of bur­row­ing into your con­scious­ness and stay­ing there. For O’Con­nor, the goth­ic tales were a means to an end: “To the hard of hear­ing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and star­tling fig­ures.”

In 1961, an Eng­lish pro­fes­sor wrote to O’Connor hop­ing to help his stu­dents under­stand “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The sto­ry, per­haps the author’s most famous, is a slip­pery, trou­bling work about a fam­i­ly of six casu­al­ly mur­dered by an escaped con­vict called the Mis­fit in the back­woods of Geor­gia. The story’s main char­ac­ter is clear­ly the Grand­moth­er. The sto­ry is seen through her eyes, and she is the one who ulti­mate­ly dooms the fam­i­ly. Yet the pro­fes­sor didn’t quite see it that way:

We have debat­ed at length sev­er­al pos­si­ble inter­pre­ta­tions, none of which ful­ly sat­is­fies us. In gen­er­al we believe that the appear­ance of the Mis­fit is not ‘real’ in the same sense that the inci­dents of the first half of the sto­ry are real. Bai­ley, we believe, imag­ines the appear­ance of the Mis­fit, whose activ­i­ties have been called to his atten­tion on the night before the trip and again dur­ing the stopover at the road­side restau­rant. Bai­ley, we fur­ther believe, iden­ti­fies him­self with the Mis­fit and so plays two roles in the imag­i­nary last half of the sto­ry. But we can­not, after great effort, deter­mine the point at which real­i­ty fades into illu­sion or rever­ie. Does the acci­dent lit­er­al­ly occur, or is it part of Bai­ley’s dream? Please believe me when I say we are not seek­ing an easy way out of our dif­fi­cul­ty. We admire your sto­ry and have exam­ined it with great care, but we are not con­vinced that we are miss­ing some­thing impor­tant which you intend­ed us to grasp. We will all be very grate­ful if you com­ment on the inter­pre­ta­tion which I have out­lined above and if you will give us fur­ther com­ments about your inten­tion in writ­ing ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find.’

O’Connor was under­stand­ably baf­fled by this read­ing. Her response:

28 March 1961

The inter­pre­ta­tion of your nine­ty stu­dents and three teach­ers is fan­tas­tic and about as far from my inten­tions as it could get to be. If it were a legit­i­mate inter­pre­ta­tion, the sto­ry would be lit­tle more than a trick and its inter­est would be sim­ply for abnor­mal psy­chol­o­gy. I am not inter­est­ed in abnor­mal psy­chol­o­gy.

There is a change of ten­sion from the first part of the sto­ry to the sec­ond where the Mis­fit enters, but this is no less­en­ing of real­i­ty. This sto­ry is, of course, not meant to be real­is­tic in the sense that it por­trays the every­day doings of peo­ple in Geor­gia. It is styl­ized and its con­ven­tions are com­ic even though its mean­ing is seri­ous.

Bailey’s only impor­tance is as the Grandmother’s boy and the dri­ver of the car. It is the Grand­moth­er who first rec­og­nized the Mis­fit and who is most con­cerned with him through­out. The sto­ry is a duel of sorts between the Grand­moth­er and her super­fi­cial beliefs and the Misfit’s more pro­found­ly felt involve­ment with Christ’s action which set the world off bal­ance for him.

The mean­ing of a sto­ry should go on expand­ing for the read­er the more he thinks about it, but mean­ing can­not be cap­tured in an inter­pre­ta­tion. If teach­ers are in the habit of approach­ing a sto­ry as if it were a research prob­lem for which any answer is believ­able so long as it is not obvi­ous, then I think stu­dents will nev­er learn to enjoy fic­tion. Too much inter­pre­ta­tion is cer­tain­ly worse than too lit­tle, and where feel­ing for a sto­ry is absent, the­o­ry will not sup­ply it.

My tone is not meant to be obnox­ious. I am in a state of shock.

Flan­nery O’Con­nor

You can hear O’Connor read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” below. We have more infor­ma­tion on the 1959 read­ing here:

Via Let­ters of Note

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Flan­nery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand (1960)

Flan­nery O’Connor Reads ‘Some Aspects of the Grotesque in South­ern Fic­tion’ (c. 1960)

Flan­nery O’Connor’s Satir­i­cal Car­toons: 1942–1945

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of bad­gers and even more pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (1837)

Obadiah Oldbuck

Com­ic books, as any enthu­si­ast of comics books won’t hes­i­tate to tell you, have a long and robust his­to­ry, one that extends far wider and deep­er than the 20th-cen­tu­ry caped mus­cle­men, carous­ing teenagers, and wise­crack­ing ani­mals so many asso­ciate with the medi­um. The schol­ar­ship on com­ic-book his­to­ry — still a rel­a­tive­ly young field, you under­stand — has more than once revised its con­clu­sions on exact­ly how far back its roots go, but as of now, the ear­li­est acknowl­edged com­ic book dates to 1837.

The Adven­tures of Oba­di­ah Old­buck, accord­ing to thecomicbooks.com’s page on ear­ly com­ic-book his­to­ry, “was done by Switzer­land’s Rudolphe Töpf­fer, who has been con­sid­ered in Europe (and start­ing to become here in Amer­i­ca) as the cre­ator of the pic­ture sto­ry. He cre­at­ed the com­ic strip in 1827,” going on to cre­ate com­ic books “that were extreme­ly suc­cess­ful and reprint­ed in many dif­fer­ent lan­guages; sev­er­al of them had Eng­lish ver­sions in Amer­i­ca in 1846. The books remained in print in Amer­i­ca until 1877.”

Also known as His­toire de M. Vieux BoisLes amours de Mr. Vieux Bois, or sim­ply Mon­sieur Vieuxbois, the orig­i­nal 1837 Adven­tures of Oba­di­ah Old­buck earned Töpf­fer the des­ig­na­tion of “the father of the mod­ern com­ic” from no less an author­i­ty on the mat­ter than Under­stand­ing Comics author Scott McCloud, who cites the series’ pio­neer­ing use of bor­dered pan­els and “the inter­de­pen­dent com­bi­na­tion of words and pic­tures.” You can see for your­self at the web site of Dart­mouth Col­lege’s Library.

Oldbuck 2

Alas, con­tem­po­rary crit­ics — and to an extent Töpf­fer him­self, who con­sid­ered it a work tar­get­ed at chil­dren and “the low­er class­es” — could­n’t see the inno­va­tion in all this. They wrote off Oba­di­ah Old­buck’s har­row­ing yet strange­ly light­heart­ed pic­to­r­i­al sto­ries of failed courtship, duel­ing, attempt­ed sui­cide, rob­bery, drag, elope­ment, ghosts, stray bul­lets, attack dogs, dou­ble-cross­ing, and the threat of exe­cu­tion as mere tri­fles by an oth­er­wise capa­ble artist. So the next time any­one gets on your case about read­ing com­ic books, just tell ’em they said the same thing about Oba­di­ah Old­buck. Then send them this way so they can fig­ure out what you mean. You can read The Adven­tures of Oba­di­ah Old­buck in its total­i­ty here.

Oldbuck 3

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Over 22,000 Gold­en & Sil­ver Age Com­ic Books from the Com­ic Book Plus Archive

Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

The Reli­gious Affil­i­a­tion of Com­ic Book Heroes

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How Did Everything Begin?: Animations on the Origins of the Universe Narrated by X‑Files Star Gillian Anderson

Back in Novem­ber, we brought you the BBC series of short ani­mat­ed videos, A His­to­ry of Ideas. Pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UK’s Open Uni­ver­si­ty and nar­rat­ed by Har­ry Shear­er, these fun intro­duc­tions to such philoso­phers as Simone de Beau­voir and Edmund Burke, and such weighty philo­soph­i­cal top­ics as free will and the prob­lem of evil, make chal­leng­ing, abstract con­cepts acces­si­ble to non-philoso­phers. Now the series is back with a new chap­ter, “How Did Every­thing Begin?,” a sur­vey of sev­er­al the­o­ries of the ori­gins of the uni­verse, from Thomas Aquinas’ philo­soph­i­cal spec­u­la­tions, to Hin­du cos­mol­o­gy; and from the­olo­gian William Paley’s design argu­ment (below), and the the­o­ry of the Big Bang (above).

The two videos here present an inter­est­ing coun­ter­point between the ori­gin the­o­ries of astro­physics and the­ol­o­gy. Though cur­rent day intel­li­gent design pro­po­nents deny it, there is still much of William Paley’s argu­ment, at least in style, in their expla­na­tions of cre­ation. First pro­pound­ed in his 1802 work Nat­ur­al The­ol­o­gy, the theologian’s famous watch­mak­er analogy—which he extend­ed to the design of the eye, and every­thing else—gave Charles Dar­win much to puz­zle over, though David Hume had sup­pos­ed­ly refut­ed Paley’s argu­ments 50 years ear­li­er. The Big Bang the­o­ry—a term cre­at­ed by its fore­most crit­ic Fred Hoyle as a pejorative—offers an entire­ly nat­u­ral­is­tic account of the universe’s ori­gins, one that pre­sup­pos­es no inher­ent pur­pose or design.

As with the pre­vi­ous videos, these are script­ed by for­mer Open Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor and host of the Phi­los­o­phy Bites pod­cast, Nigel War­bur­ton. This time around the videos are nar­rat­ed by Gillian Ander­son, whose voice you may not imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize. Rather than sound­ing like Dana Scul­ly, her famous X‑Files char­ac­ter, Ander­son speaks in a British accent, which she slips into eas­i­ly, hav­ing lived in the UK for much of her child­hood and now again as an adult. (You may have seen Ander­son in many of the Eng­lish peri­od dra­mas she has appeared in, or in British crime dra­ma The Fall or Michael Winterbottom’s uproar­i­ous adap­ta­tion of Tris­tram Shandy.)

These fas­ci­nat­ing spec­u­la­tive theories—whether sci­en­tif­ic or mythological—are sure to appeal to fans of the X‑Files, who can per­haps begin to believe again, or remain skep­ti­cal, thanks to news that Ander­son may reteam with Chris Carter and David Duchovny for a reboot of the clas­sic sci-fi series.

Watch the remain­ing videos in the series below:

Thomas Aquinas and the First Mover Argu­ment

Hin­du Cre­ation Sto­ries

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A His­to­ry of Ideas: Ani­mat­ed Videos Explain The­o­ries of Simone de Beau­voir, Edmund Burke & Oth­er Philoso­phers

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps – Peter Adamson’s Pod­cast Still Going Strong

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es (130 in Total)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

A Dazzling Gallery of Clockwork Orange Tattoos


Alex, the pro­tag­o­nist of Antho­ny Burgess’ A Clock­work Orange takes teenage rebel­lion to psy­chot­ic extremes, but one act he and his droogs nev­er indulge in is get­ting tat­tooed. It doesn’t even seem to be on their radar. How dif­fer­ent things were in 1962, when the book was pub­lished!

I have no doubt that direc­tor Stan­ley Kubrick (or design­er Mile­na Canonero) could have devised some icon­ic ink for the 1971 film adap­ta­tion, but it would’ve been gild­ing the lily. Movie Alex Mal­colm McDow­ell’s sin­gle false eye­lash is so arrest­ing as to be instant­ly rec­og­niz­able. It deserved its star billing on the updat­ed book cov­er that coin­cid­ed with the film’s release.

It’s also just one of many Clock­work Orange-inspired images that dec­o­rates fans’ hides now that tat­too­ing has hit the main­stream. What would Alex think?

The lit­tle mon­ster’s ego would’ve have rel­ished the noto­ri­ety, but I bet he’d have had a snick­er, too, at the lengths to which eager chellovecks and devotchkas will go. It’s the kind of thing his dim droo­gie Dim would do—mark him­self up per­ma­nent when he could’ve just as well have bought a tote­bag.


Whether or not you per­son­al­ly would con­sid­er mak­ing a salute to A Clock­work Orange a life­long fea­ture of your birth­day suit, it’s hard not to admire the com­mit­ment of the pas­sion­ate lit­er­a­ture and film lovers who do.

In assem­bling the gallery below, we’ve opt­ed to for­go the pho­to­re­al­is­tic por­traits of McDowell—particularly the ones that recre­ate the aver­sion ther­a­py scene—in favor of the graph­ic, the cre­ative, the jaw drop­ping, the sly… and the unavoid­able Hel­lo Kit­ty mash up, which we’re kind of hop­ing wash­es off.

Clockwork Tattoo 4

Clockwork Tattoo 6

Clockwork Tattoo 5

Clockwork Tattoo 7

Clockwork Tattoo 8

Clockwork Tattoo 9


Clockwork Tattoo 11


Clockwork Tattoo 13

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Mak­ing of Stan­ley Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange

Watch The Simp­sons’ Hal­loween Par­o­dy of Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange and The Shin­ing

15 Great Films Adapt­ed From Equal­ly Great Nov­els

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and car­toon­ist, whose lat­est com­ic cel­e­brates Civ­il War fire­brand, “Crazy Bet” Van Lew. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Whitney Museum Puts Online 21,000 Works of American Art, By 3,000 Artists

soir bleu

Soir Bleu by Edward Hop­per, 1914.

The trend has now become delight­ful­ly clear: the world’s best-known art insti­tu­tions have got around to the impor­tant busi­ness of mak­ing their col­lec­tions freely view­able online. We’ve already fea­tured the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Muse­um of Art, the Rijksmu­se­um, and the Nation­al Gallery (as well as new, inter­net-based insti­tu­tions such as the Google Art Project and Art.sy). Today, we bring news that the Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art has joined in as well.

the steerage

The Steer­age by Alfred Stieglitz, 1907.

“Last week, the Whit­ney Muse­um mas­sive­ly over­hauled its online data­base,” writes Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Bec­ca Roth­feld. “The muse­um of Amer­i­can art expand­ed its online col­lec­tion from a pal­try 700 works to around 21,000. The dig­i­tal reserve now includes over 3,000 pieces by Edward Hop­per, in addi­tion to offer­ings from a wide swathe of art from the Unit­ed States, includ­ing the likes of Mike Kel­ley and Mar­tin Wong.” Roth­feld also notes that all this dig­i­ti­za­tion has hap­pened dur­ing the muse­um’s phys­i­cal move, cur­rent­ly under­way, to a build­ing in the Meat­pack­ing Dis­trict with 63,000 com­bined square feet of indoor and out­door gallery space.

morning sky

Morn­ing Sky by Geor­gia O’Ke­effe, 1916.

We non-New York­ers have, of course, already booked our flights to expe­ri­ence the Whit­ney’s new digs. But since the build­ing won’t actu­al­ly open to the pub­lic until May, all of us, no mat­ter where we live, will have to con­tent our­selves for the moment with what the muse­um has put online so far. For­tu­nate­ly, it has put a lot online: you can browse their dig­i­tal col­lec­tions by artist here; you’ll notice a great deal of Jack­son Pol­lock, Geor­gia O’Ke­effe, Edward Hop­per, and Andy Warhol already avail­able for your brows­ing plea­sure.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Muse­ums, and Free Books from Uni­ver­si­ty Press­es

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use

LA Coun­ty Muse­um Makes 20,000 Artis­tic Images Avail­able for Free Down­load

The Rijksmu­se­um Puts 125,000 Dutch Mas­ter­pieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art

The Nation­al Gallery Makes 25,000 Images of Art­work Freely Avail­able Online

The Get­ty Puts 4600 Art Images Into the Pub­lic Domain (and There’s More to Come)

40,000 Art­works from 250 Muse­ums, Now View­able for Free at the Redesigned Google Art Project

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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