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On Not Rolling the Log


Today The Dialis in the hands of novelist Glen David Gold, who explores the prickliness of literary sociality, the loneliness of an aging William Faulkner, and other tribulations that flesh is heir to.
— Tom Lutz
Transactions along the Mississippi Delta

Recently, I spoke to a group of MFA students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I wanted to pass along the best advice I got in my own MFA program 15 years ago. Our professor Wilton Barnhart had said, “cultivate literary friendships.”

It was almost a koan in its three-word simplicity. He meant us to sift through what that verb, that adjective and that noun might mean to us. He did not add a clause that I now wish he had: “and for Christ’s sake, do not let them become transactional.”

The world after publication is — beyond its many joys — an evaporating and ruinous goldfish bowl of thwarted ambition. If you write long enough, you will know editors and agents. You will have dinner with people who give interesting fellowships to weeklong retreats in the south of France. You will teach at good programs and you might know when a publisher’s child is having a birthday and what his favorite Transformer is, and these facts more than the quality of your humanity might be what makes you a chess piece when another writer slaps you on the back and asks you if you might read something he wrote.

It’s hard to explain to writing students that there are pods of very friendly, arguably moral authors who treat each other as if the literary life is led on a firing range. They meet you alertly, brightly drawing from natty holsters their own signs of power, rank and aid, and then requesting that you do the same. They aren’t evil, really, and the impulse behind it is so close to camaraderie it almost smells right. We all need help, and we all want to help each other, which makes the nuances of the transaction murky. Some people never see the problem at all and others treat every request like you’re asking for a toe of which they are particularly fond. In the end, parsing the aspirational nature of literary friendship is as much of a longshot as sexing the yeti.

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Photographer Loves Math, Graphs Her Images

Here are some of the pictures the photographer named Nikki Graziano have captured. Graziano, is a math and photography student at Rochester Institute of Technology, she overlays graphs and their corresponding equations onto her carefully composed photos.

    “I wanted to create something that could communicate how awesome math is, to everyone,” she says.

Graziano doesn’t go out looking for a specific function but lets one find her instead. Once she’s got an image she likes, Graziano whips up the numbers and tweaks the function until the graph it describes aligns perfectly with the photograph. See more of her Found Functions series at

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