What I’ve Never Read


This week, I wrote about Dracula — you can find that link in the Week in Review, below — and…  wow, it was hard to write. The reason? 

I’ve never read the Bram Stoke book. Or, for that matter, seen any of the movies based on the book. Or really had any other experience with the canonical Dracula from Stoker’s imagination. The story I shared doesn’t require having any previous knowledge of Stoker’s masterpiece, but the whole point of that newsletter (uh, spoiler alert — if you haven’t read Monday’s email yet, I’m about to ruin part of it for you) is that the Icelandic translation deviates significantly from Stoker’s original. My plan was to show how the translation diverged from what it is ostensibly based on. But that proved really difficult! I figured I knew enough about Dracula — vampire, the whole biting and bloodsucking, and uh… he doesn’t have a reflection in the mirror, maybe? And that whole thing about garlic? It turns out, I didn’t know all that much about Dracula after all.

If you re-read Monday’s email with that in mind, you can probably tell I fudged the intro a bit, speaking about the character only in vague terms. At no point do I run through the differences in the books, because — well, how was I supposed to do that? 

I think I handled it fine, for what it’s worth. But I have to admit, it took a good hour to write the first paragraph. At one point, I was so frustrated that I almost decided to keep the idea for later, read the book (or, to be honest, watch the movie), and then revisit it. But I didn’t have anything else immediate to write about. I guess you make do with what you have.

The Now I Know Week In Review

MondayThe Translator That Sucked The Life Out of Dracula. See above. I really like the title of this one, by the way, even if it’s unfair to the translator.

TuesdayUlysses Subtracting (Land) Grant?: A story about a town that moved. (You’ll see.) A lot of you wrote in to tell me I wrote “1973” when I meant “1873.” I appreciate the feedback, despite the volume of emails :)

Wednesday: Horse, Off-Course: Australia hosted an Olympic Games in 1956, but not all of it — some of the Games happened half a world away. Here’s why.

ThursdayYou Can’t Eat Here (And Don’t Really Want to Anyway): It took me forever to come up with a title for one. I really didn’t want to give away the punchline. I’m not going to here, either!

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

1) “The little search engine that couldn’t” (The Verge, 15 minutes, July 2023). The subhead: “A couple of ex-Googlers set out to create the search engine of the future. They built something faster, simpler, and ad-free. So how come you’ve never heard of Neeva?” I’ll not ruin the answer for you.

2) “Ingenious librarians” (Aeon, 11 minutes, June 2023). While we’re on the subject of Google and web searching, this is the story of how librarians in the 1970s — before the consumer Internet was more than a dream — developed the proto-infrastructure (is that a term? It is now!) for how we scour deep pools of information to find the one thing we’re looking for.

3) “What a yarn! Journalists are turning to crochet to tell data stories” (Neiman Lab, 8 minutes, August 2023). I don’t think this is particularly insightful or deep, but it was fun to read! And it has nothing to do with web searching.

Have a great weekend!