Recently, a friend of mine sent me a strange message. It was imperative, she said, that I get in touch with a guy named Geoffrey Mitchell. Geoffrey lives in the Bay Area and works for Caltrans — the California Department of Public Transportation. But before that, he worked as a marine biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in the swamplands around Lake Charles.
That's, he told me, where he heard about the parrot in a witness protection program.
In case you haven’t heard, journalism is now in perpetual crisis, and conditions are increasingly surreal. The fate of the controversialists at Gawker rests on a delayed jury trial over a Hulk Hogan sex tape. Newspapers publish directly to Facebook, and Snapchat hires journalists away from CNN. Last year, the Pulitzer Prizes doubled as the irony awards; one winner in the local reporting category, it emerged, had left his newspaper job months earlier for a better paying gig in PR. “Is there a future in journalism and writing and the Internet?” Choire Sicha, cofounder of The Awl, wrote last January. “Haha, FUCK no, not really.” Even those who have kept their jobs in journalism, he explained, can’t say what they might be doing, or where, in a few years’ time. Disruption clouds the future even as it holds it up for worship.
But for every crisis in every industry, a potential savior emerges. And in journalism, the latest candidate is sponsored content.
Nobody can tangle a text like Iain Pears. His best-known novel, “An Instance of the Fingerpost,” explored a 17th-century Oxford murder and its aftermath through the memoirs of four unreliable narrators, each hotly disputing the others’ versions of reality, science, religion and justice. After nearly 700 pages of deposition, when the guilty are finally sorted from the hard-to-call-innocent, many readers will understandably have already lost track of their scorecards. Now, almost 20 years later, Pears’s latest novel presents a complexly interwoven series of narrative entanglements that stretch across time, alternate universes and at least several textual realities — from Elizabethan pastoral romance and multiple universe theory to a Narnia-like fantasy world and Cold War international intrigue. What’s the difference between all these systems of order, knowledge and storytelling? the attentive reader might ask. And the answer might well be: no difference at all. They are equally “real” and equally “unreal” — take your pick.
The world’s biggest wooden pencil manufacturer, Faber-Castell, say they are experiencing "double-digit growth" in the sale of artists’ pencils and have been forced to run more shifts in their German factory to keep up.