Critical Linking: August 23, 2012

“And as we rode home through the chilly evening, I thought about the Taoist story a friend told me back when things looked so bleak. What I saw as the worst thing ever to befall my son turned out to be one of the best. My moment of complete hopelessness occurred in the exact spot where goodness was collecting.”

Novelist Ann Bauer has chopped wood and carried water.


“The thing that was revelatory to me in those letters,” he began, and then paused. “One, he’s such a beautiful letter-writer. Two, that he was such a fuck-up. In so many ways, the story of his genius could only be recognizable in the aftermath of his life. If you were close to him in his life, one way or another, he would derail any desire to help him. By being so nuts and argumentative and hard to take. When I started working on this, I thought, well, that’s Pepper, through and through. That’s any number of these people in here—not that they’re going to be great painters, but that their lives contain moments of genius in some sense or another, as I see it, and they won’t be recognized. And this book will try to recognize the genius of day-to-day ways that you try to help people, save people, do good. I’m very earnest about that.”

Van Gogh, considered by LaValle, who was interviewed by Carroll.


“Contemplating the problem of how to deliver thick, quick-drying ink to a paper surface without requiring the ink to flow, Bíró saw a possible answer: closing the end of the pen instead of using a nib, leaving an opening with just enough room for a tiny metal ball that would spin against the ink in the reservoir, distributing it to the paper.”

The uncommon history behind the still very common ball-point pen.