Obviously they’ve all moved to cities, right? But for real: Does “the omission of gay voices in [the] rural canon gesture toward a more pointed claim, that the ‘moral glory’ of the American countryside somehow prevented, or at least denied, the existence of gay men and women”?
A high school teacher who does surveys and knows only 15 percent of any class ever reads the entire book thinks that “if reading were less of a spectator sport maybe we’d inhabit a world better informed, more critical—and critical in a reflective rather than a reactive sense—a world shaped more collectively by thoughtfulness, by magnanimity.”
“For Goethe, world literature represented the bold ideal of a world in which no single language or nation dominated. World literature was the cultural expression of a political order, one in which the world had moved beyond the nationalism and colonialism that were dominating the 19th century. Goethe knew he would have to convert his contemporaries to the ideal of world literature.”
“[It] is not the most intuitive of phrases. Although people’s pants do sometimes catch on fire, this correlates more with carrying around accidentally explosive materials than it does with truthfulness. Meanwhile, the vast majority of liars make it through life unscathed by this particular fashion catastrophe. The mystery of the phrase’s origins is compounded by the fact that several of its more popularly reported etymologies are, in fact, lies.” Cara Giaimo gets to the bottom of the matter.
O’Donnell recounts buying 1,000 copies of The Art of the Deal to sell in the Plaza’s gift shop—only to be told by fellow executive Steve Hyde that it wasn’t nearly enough. “You’ve got to increase your order,” Hyde told him. “Donald will go nuts if you don’t order more books.” How many more? Four thousand copies, O’Donnell was told. “We were pressured to buy a lot of books,” O’Donnell tells the New Republic. So many, in fact, that he had to find creative ways to get rid of them all. “What we would do is use them as a turn-down service in a hotel,” O’Donnell laughs.
Emily Temple recounts the time that Robert Gottlieb had finally had enough. (And “prick” is probably too mild a word.)
“Nadella, whose own first book, the memoir/vision for the future Hit Refresh, is being published in late September, says that he’s drawn particular inspiration from these seven works on history, economics, technology, and management strategy.”
In this “Lexicon Valley” podcast, linguist John McWhorter talks about how pidgins arise and gradually develop into new languages.
In his new book, “Why Poetry,”Matthew Zapruder makes the bold assertion that understanding poetry requires “forgetting many incorrect things we have learned in school” and accepting “what is right before us on the page.” Any reader can do that, he says, because “we are all experts in words; we have been for a long time. And any word we don’t know we can look up.”
“In an industrialized culture, most people get by with 11 color words: black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, orange, pink, purple and gray. That’s what we have in American English. Maybe if you’re an artist or an interior designer, you know specific meanings for as many as 50 or 100 different words for colors – like turquoise, amber, indigo or taupe. But this is still a tiny fraction of the colors that we can distinguish. … [And] nonindustrialized cultures typically have far fewer words for colors than industrialized cultures.” (One language has words only for white, black, and red.) Two cognitive scientists look into why this is.
“The Whiting Foundation, which annually provides 10 emerging writers with prizes of $50,000 each, has announced a new series of grants designed to ‘acknowledge, reward and encourage’ nonprofit American magazines. The grants for print and digital publications will total up to $120,000.”
A handful of writers on the longlist have been previously recognized by the Giller Prize: Eden Robinson was shortlisted in 2000 for Monkey Beach, Michael Redhill was shortlisted in 2001 for Martin Sloane, Rachel Cusk was shortlisted in 2015 for Outline and David Chariandy was longlisted in 2007 for his novel Soucouyant.
“The revelation about Dahl’s original wish for Charlie may surprise those who accused the author of racism in relation to the book. The allegation stemmed from the fact that the Oompa Loompas in the original version were black pygmies from Africa.”
“[Ahmet] Altan, the author of 10 acclaimed novels that have been translated around the world, as well as essays and journalism, was arrested last September following the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016. Charges against him include ‘giving subliminal messages in favour of a coup on television’, ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘attempting to overthrow the government’.”
Lisa Ko is one of four début writers on the list, along with Carmen Maria Machado, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, and Carol Zoref. Two of the writers on this year’s list have contended for the award before: Ward and Jennifer Egan, who was a finalist, in 2001, for “Look at Me.”
“Bookstores are making a comeback. Just take a look at the membership numbers of American Booksellers Association (ABA), a trade organization that works with independent bookstores: In 2009, ABA membership hit a low, with just 1,651 locations. Like a phoenix, that number has risen for the last seven years, reaching more than 2,320 locations in 2017. Book sales in independent stores are also up. According to the ABA, book sales in U.S. indie shops grew more than 10 percent in 2015 over the previous year, and in 2016 sales at independent bookstore were up nearly 5 percent.”
I feel incredibly lucky to make a living as a writer, but today’s luck is very different than McPhee’s in the ‘60s. In his New Yorker contributor biography, McPhee is credited with bylines on “over 100 pieces.” I laughed out loud when I read it; it’s not uncommon today for even established writers to publish that many pieces a year. These stories are not 40,000-word epic sagas about colorful men and their long journeys by truck, boat, or sled; they are shorter, on the Internet, with smaller budgets, and they are more likely to be written by women. McPhee flashes back to 1966, when he spent nearly two weeks lying on a picnic table “staring up into branches and leaves” thinking about how to start an article.
“All stories about the future are actually about the now. However, it’s also true that you generally look ahead of you to see where you’re going and that’s what those kinds of books are like. They’re like blueprints of the possible futures that help us to decide whether that is where we want to go. 1984 was actually about 1948 and looking down the road what might happen should England become like the Soviet Union of the now. So the Handmaid’s Tale was about trends that were already there in the now event, and what might happen if those trends continued on in that way. Would we like that? Is that where we want to live?”
Indeed, scientists couldn’t really imagine the World Wide Web much before it appeared. As Lawrence Krauss puts it, “the imagination of nature far exceeds that of human imagination. If you had locked a group of theoretical physicists in a room 50 years ago and asked them to predict what we now know about the universe, they would have missed almost all the key discoveries we have made since.”
“Scholars of yore, when reflecting upon language, would wonder things such as: which of the contemporary languages was spoken by the first man? Which one is superior to the rest? And which of the human tongues deserves the label ‘divine’? Modern linguists will not touch those with a 10-foot pole. The oldest language is unknowable, but it was certainly different from anything spoken today. The ‘best’ language is impossible to define in any meaningful way. And as for ‘divine’ – the very word is meaningless in relation to languages, except in a cultural sense.”
Bob Mankoff, until recently the magazine’s cartoon editor, had the idea in 1992 to make a business of collecting and licensing all the submitted cartoons that weren’t accepted for publication. Under his stewardship, the Cartoon Bank’s business thrived (especially once the Web came along), with revenues at one point reaching $7 million annually. Half of those revenues went to the cartoonists, giving their often-meager incomes a badly-needed boost. Then, in 2008, Mankoff handed off the running of the Bank to Condé Nast. Reporter Seth Simon tells the sad story of what’s happened since.
“But a host of award-winning writers failed to make the cut, with former Booker winner Arundhati Roy missing out on a place, as well as Sebastian Barry, Kamila Shamsie and Mike McCormack. British authors Zadie Smith and Jon McGregor also dropped out. American author Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was another high-profile casualty.”
What most people don’t know is that, for his entire oeuvre—all his fiction, poetry, criticism, lectures—Poe earned only about $6,200 in his lifetime, or approximately $191,087 adjusted for inflation. Maybe $191,087 seems like a lot of money. And sure, as book advances go, that’d be a generous one, the kind that fellow writers would whisper about. But what if $191,087 was all you got for 20 years of work and the stuff you wrote happened to be among the most enduring literature ever produced by anyone anywhere?
“Some shoes are harder to fill than others. Robert Silvers .. ran the left-leaning intellectual magazine with single-minded fervor from the time he co-founded it in 1963 until he died at 87 in March. His shoes may as well be Shaquille O’Neal’s.” But Buruma is up for the challenge, and, as he tells John Williams, he’ll do his job differently: “It was a monarchy, and I think perhaps it will be a slightly more democratic operation. Certainly I think I’ll be more collaborative.”
Last week, researcher Nicholas Gibbs announced in the Times Literary Supplement that he had cracked the medieval text’s long-uindecipherable code. (He says it’s a women’s health manual.) But other experts in the field aren’t convinced. Here Brigit Katz gives us some of the other (weird) theories about the Voynich and the six basic things to know about it.
“Are they reading less and spending more time on activism? According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer to that is complicated, but it suggests that Trump’s rise has done little to substantially shift the habits of readers.”
At the very moment that “Latino” and “Chicano” art are poised to make a big splash, some curators are pushing to replace those masculine words with new genderless terms they find more inclusive: “Latinx” for anyone in North America with roots from Latin America — male, female or gender-nonconforming — and “Chicanx” for anyone of Mexican descent.
“It’s become clear that Jalada is where the future of African literature is being written. A project with a pan-Africanist scope might have drowned under the logistics of communication and distance, or lost its energy in fundraising. Instead, meetings have yielded true mentorships and editorial relationships, and correspondences have blossomed into long-term collaborations, as the contributors to each anthology have become a part of the broader network.”
Lightman is feared, reviled and lauded in the poetry world. For some, he’s a tireless vigilante, bravely aiming his chin at his enemies. For those enemies, he’s a bully and a witch-finder with an unnatural obsession. For others still, he’s in error; some of his targets aren’t plagiarists at all, they argue, just sloppy note-keepers. Moreover, Lightman makes no allowances for the practice of “intertextuality”: when you take someone else’s poem and use its structure, mood or language as a foundation for something new.