There’s a big, wonderful world of bookish websites out there. In this column, we point you to some of our favorites.
Every once in awhile, you come across a site with an idea so simple and genius and pure that you get angry that you didn’t think of it. This anger can last for years–unless the site is done with more polish, restraint, humor, and subtlety than you could have ever mustered in a thousand years of mustering.
Exhibit A: Slaughterhouse 90210.
The premise of Slaughterhouse 90210 is confoundingly elegant: pair a still from TV with a literary quotation. That’s it. No commentary. No snark (except implied snark, which really is the beluga caviar of snark). The site’s creator, Maris Kreizman, seems to have the cool detachment of Mr. Spock combined with the childlike enthusiasm for popular culture of Lorelai Gilmore.
You really need an example to see how sublime this can be. Here’s a recent gem:
This particular installment highlights some of Slaughterhouse 90210’s remarkable qualities.
1. I think the principal pleasure of reading the site day-in and day-out is having your pop culture existence blended with your more intellectual side. There’s some part of your brain that hums when these two facets come together. Perhaps it is that our sense of the disconnectedness of all things is in abeyance. I’m not exactly sure, but I like this feeling.
2. These pairings often express, in Emerson’s words, “our own thoughts reflected.” They articulate some sense, idea, or feeling about a character, show, or personality that we have, but do not (or cannot) express.
3. Or it does the opposite; it estranges our relationship to something we see. I admit a weak spot for Zooey Deschanel and in The New Girl she is at her Deschanelest. This idea that the character of Zooey Deschanel exhibits a surplus of sincerity, and in doing so becomes a special sort of disingenuous, slayed me. My unthinking affection? Obliterated. This a valuable service.
4. It brings the considerable forces of literary history to bear on our modern age. This not only confers new insights, but reminds us that literature can transcend time, even as our mass culture usually wears so badly after only a few years. Though Slaughterhouse 90210 clearly loves pop culture, it winks with the knowledge that it is a fleeting thing, to be seen and enjoyed, but not to take too seriously, which, by some black magic, it achieves precisely by taking it seriously.