Words

Why Is Academic Writing So Dreadful?

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“The familiarity of bad academic writing raises a puzzle. Why should a profession that trades in words and dedicates itself to the transmission of knowledge so often turn out prose that is turgid, soggy, wooden, bloated, clumsy, obscure, unpleasant to read, and impossible to understand?”

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Carol Ann Duffy: My First Five Years As Poet Laureate

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“When Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in 2009, the first woman to hold the post in its nearly 350-year history, she set herself several goals that included setting up new prizes, giving support to new festivals and helping to generate commissions for poets.”

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Now The Big Guns Are Joining Writers’ Fight Against Amazon

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“Andrew Wylie, whose client roster of heavyweights in literature is probably longer than that of any other literary agent, said he was asking all his writers whether they wanted to join the group, Authors United. Among those who have said yes … are Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera.”

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Can L’Exception Culturelle Save Paris’s Oldest Bookstore?

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“This month, the Librairie Delamain’s lease is up for renewal by the Qatari company Constellation Hotel Holdings, which … plans to double the bookstore’s rent to 100,000 euros per year – nearly a tenth of their annual revenue.” But now the Académie Française and the nation’s minister of culture have gotten involved.

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Legal Battle Over Astérix Ends As Co-Creator And Daughter Kiss And Make Up

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“It was a dispute as bitter and drawn-out as Astérix the Gaul’s campaign against the Romans. On Friday, however, the illustrator Albert Uderzo … and his daughter … buried the hatchet after a court threw out a case brought by Sylvie Uderzo claiming her father had been tricked into selling off part of the family heritage.”

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Author David Mitchell Claims A Bitter Writer In His New Book Is Himself, But Everyone Else Thinks It’s Martin Amis

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“Either the monster in his mirror has led him on a dangerous journey he didn’t realise he was taking (though it’s hard to believe no editor would have pointed it out to him), or he’s belatedly woken up to the fact that taking a pop at his literary elders is not necessarily the smartest career move.”

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Writing Every Day About The, Uh, Deceased

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“I watch the Oscars memorial presentation and sit there going, Did him, did her, didn’t do that one. For obit writers, the whole world is necessarily divided into the dead and the pre-dead. That’s all there is.”

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When A Poet On The Page Is Also An Award-Winning Slam Poet

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“His ambivalence cut to the heart of the poetry world’s own resistance to performance poetry, which Miller described as ‘a fight between the poet who does his best work standing up, who finds his greatest eloquence on stage, and the poet who does his best work sitting down, who finds his greatest eloquence on the page.'”

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The Maldives Will Now Require All Books To Pass Censor Board

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“The regulations are intended to ‘standardise all literature … publicised and published in the Maldives in accordance with laws and regulations of the Maldives and its societal etiquette’, and to ‘reduce adverse effects on society that could be caused by published literature’.”

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If Only The Subjunctive Didn’t Trip Everyone Up

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Consider this sentence: Even Rupert Murdoch, who opened a new London headquarters for his UK newspapers last week, is insisting that each of the titles turns a profit, rather than relying on subsidies from other parts of his media empire.

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Amtrak’s First Writers In Residence

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Amtrak has chosen its first class of 24 writers for its residency program. There were 16,000 applications. They’ll ride on long-distance trains and write about the experiences.

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Texas School District Bans Six Books (And On Banned Book Week, Too!)

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“Objections were raised to Pulitzer winner David Shipler’s non-fiction title The Working Poor, because it includes a reference to a woman who was sexually abused as a child and had an abortion. Narrated by a dog, Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain was criticised for a sex scene, and Alexie’s award-winning novel for its strong language. Also suspended were Jeannette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle and Hermann Hesse’s classic novel Siddhartha.”

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You Know What’s Wrong With Grammar Nazis?

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“[They] are incurious about the logic and history of the English language and … have a tin ear for its nuances of meaning and emphasis. Too lazy to crack open a dictionary, they are led by gut feeling and intuition rather than attention to careful scholarship. … In their zeal to purify usage and safeguard the language, they have made it difficult to think clearly about felicity in expression and have muddied the task of explaining the art of writing.”

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Puzzlement: How Did A Hardcore Economics Book Become A Bestseller?

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“Somehow, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ by Thomas Piketty has become a conversation piece among well-read people. Its graphic red-and-ivory cover is inescapable. Early in its launch, it hit No 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list and the paper version – a doorstop in punishing, heavy hardcover – sold out in major bookstores.”

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García Márquez’s Books Finally Get U.S. Digital Release

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“Vintage Books will release nine of García Márquez’s works as e-books on October 15th, marking the first time his books will be available digitally in the United States.” Not included are One Hundred Years of Solitude and No One Writes to the Colonel, which are published by HarperCollins.

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How To Tell If You’re In An MFA Workshop Story

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“You drink in a way that is simple and direct and not at all in imitation of Hemingway or Carver, and if it is then it’s an homage, a subtle, searingly thought-provoking homage, and the bartender is a charming old gent who calls you ‘hoss’ and not a college girl with a swallow tattoo on her breastbone.”

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Author Rolls Her Eyes At Controversy Over Short Story

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Hilary Mantel: “I think it would be unconscionable to say this is too dark; we can’t examine it. We can’t be running away from history. We have to face it head on, because the repercussions of Mrs. Thatcher’s reign have fed the nation. It is still resonating.”

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So What Exactly Is It About Young Adult Literature That Gets Certain Critics So Upset?

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“The idea that pleasure should be relegated to adolescence seems a dreary recipe for adulthood indeed, but whose pleasure, exactly, are we discussing here? What of people who have been persecuted solely on the basis of their pleasures, for daring to be joyful in bodies regulated and punished for those pleasures by the apparatus of the state?”

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Why It’s So Easy To Buy Stereotypes In Fiction

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What gets published by or about South Asians in the U.S.? “Mangoes, spices, and monsoons … saris, bangles, oppressive husbands/fathers, arranged marriages, grains of rice, jasmine, virgins, and a tacky, overproduced Bollywood dance of rejection and obsession with Western culture.”

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In The Age Of The Internet, Who Needs Footnotes?

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“For a book to be taken seriously, does it have to take us right to the yellowing page of some crumbling edition guarded in the depths of an austere library, if the material could equally well be found through a Google search? Has an element of fetishism perhaps crept into what was once a necessary academic practice?”

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Did Henry James Write YA Fiction?

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“In fact, James is every bit as concerned with innocence recoiling at adulthood … The difference is that James writes about women, instead of wild boys. The archetypal Jamesian character is a young American woman – Daisy Miller, Isabel Archer, Milly Theale, Maggie Verver – whose innocence is manipulated and ultimately destroyed by the forces (usually British or European) of experience.”

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“It’s Not Literary” – Why It’s Such A Breakthrough For Alison Bechdel And Roz Chast To Be Getting Book Prizes

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Alexander Chee: “‘I don’t know how to evaluate this.’ ‘Shouldn’t comics have their own category?’ ‘This isn’t literary.’ As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur.”

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Why You Should Read Alison Bechdel’s Old Comic Strip

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“Just as Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series wended its leisurely, funny and warm way through the evolving gay and transgender communities in San Francisco, Dykes to Watch Out For dives deep into a fictional lesbian community, considering the impact of transgender politics, marriage and even the death of independent bookstores on her characters. … Did I mention that the strip is fabulous, funny reading?”

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