Book Skimming - Netted
Article • March 28, 2012

Book Skimming

Search Books' Real-Life References at Small Demons

It’s always refreshing to watch an author flex their pop culture muscles.

Except when the references are to an obscure French burlesque troop and some airline called “Continental Op.”

Small Demons is a new site devoted to piecing together such literary puzzles by cataloging all the real-life people, places, and things in works of literature.

Take Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, a pop music novel that references everyone from Wagner to Dylan. Small Demons (the name comes from a line in a short story by Jorge Luis Borges) has catalogued those quotes and linked them to small bio pages where you can learn more about the musician, see what other books have referenced them, and even buy their albums.

The search works in reverse, too, so you can see what books have referenced your favorite cities, actors, songs, and more.

A few hours down this rabbit hole feels like chipping away at missed references with a giant spade.