“In an age of texting and tweeting, these folks are trying to keep the mother tongue healthy, and their presence constitutes a refreshing renaissance for a profession that is generally underappreciated and rarely noticed – until, of course, a mistake shows up in print.” Thomas Vinciguerra looks at Mary Norris, John E. McIntyre, and other usage mavens who’ve been getting noticed online.
“How much of this [success] is the movie? How much of this is [Black] Panther’s improved profile right now? How much of this is Between the World and Me? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What I want people to feel ultimately is that this is part of the entire oeuvre that I put together. I don’t want it to be ‘Ta-Nehisi just took a break and did comics.’ It is not a break for me.”
The current model — big-name writers sharing wealth with unknown counterparts who enjoy the prospect of MFA employment — is a more cooperative arrangement that, while not ideal, has a better chance of ushering into existence quality literature by writers who have a shot at being able to change our lives with words.
Turns out soldiers really did read it for the articles. (Well, not only the articles.) “In fact, it’s hard to overstate how profound a role Playboy played among the millions of American soldiers and civilians stationed in Vietnam throughout the war: as entertainment, yes, but more important as news and, through its extensive letters section, as a sounding board and confessional.”
Last year, the Federal Republic’s supreme court ruled that publishing houses weren’t entitled to up to €300 million in copyright payments they had kept since 2012, and the houses are scrambling madly to get together the cash they must now pay to their authors. The general counsel of Germany’s Publishers and Booksellers Association explains the situation.
The “badass librarians of Timbuktu” aren’t the only ones rescuing irreplaceable old documents from violent destruction. “Soft-spoken, dressed in flowing black robes, [Father Columba Stewart] has spent the past 13 years roaming from the Balkans to the Middle East in an effort to save Christian and Islamic manuscripts threatened by wars, theft, weather – and, lately, the Islamic State.”
The magazine had abandoned print in 2010 but stayed online. But print now seems a viable strategy again. “This isn’t a return to Paste Magazine. We’re not reliant on getting 200,000 people to be part of our rate base so we can go sell ads to Ford, BMW and Jack Daniels. Though we do have some advertising in the quarterly, it’s a small portion of our model. We’re reliant on our subscribers to foot the bill for what we do.”
“The online OED now allows the reader to click on citations from Shakespeare and Milton to get the extended passage they’re drawn from, and readers can easily go online to do the same with citations from other writers. Online dictionaries like Wordnik already use algorithms to construct citation lists on the fly; at the limit, you could think of an online dictionary as simply a lexicographical web interface… The advent of online historical corpora has also altered the lexicographer’s method. Word sleuthery has become a game that anyone with access to a search engine can play.”
“‘I told my students, ‘Be in love with the process, not the result,’ ‘ Jenkins said — but admitted he did like the result.”
Did the large chain do it to avoid the backlash against national chains on high streets? Of course not, says the managing director. It’s because the small shops are independent. (Except for being owned by Waterstones.)
And now she has a new poetry record album. Yes, record album: “Happily at Naropa University there’s something called the Harry Smith house — it’s a little house on the Naropa campus — which Ambrose Bye uses to record everyone all summer. I had gone into that little house the summer before and recorded a shitload of poems, new and old, and did it in a really messy fashion. I was reading and throwing the pages down, and Ambrose was doing the sound stuff, and Anne Waldman, who I’ve known forever, was there.”
Joe Weisberg, writer and showrunner of “The Americans,” now in its fifth season: “How is this all happening again? When we started this show, the Soviet Union was gone. We were not in any kind of serious conflict with Russia. And it seemed like a good time to tell a story about those old bygone days. And how in a few short years Russia has turned into an enemy again makes very little sense.”
As Little Golden Books like The Poky Little Puppy turn 75, it’s clear that they did exactly what their creators intended: “The printers, publishers, writers and artists who brought Golden Books to the market had a lofty goal — they wanted to ‘democratize children’s books,’ making them both affordable and accessible. To that end, they were sold in department stores, train stations, drugstores and supermarkets.”
“Additions including “clicktivism” (a pejorative word for armchair activists on social media), “haterade” (excessive negativity, criticism, or resentment), “otherize” (view or treat – a person or group of people – as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself) and “herd mentality” (the tendency for people’s behaviour or beliefs to conform to those of the group to which they belong) all emerged during the 2016 battle for the White House.”
The author and publisher of I Dare to Sleep Alone and I Learn to Control Myself insist that the book’s purpose is to teach young children about feelings they experience and how to protect themselves from abuse. But images of particular pages got circulated on social media and pushed some national buttons pretty hard.
“After the office of President Erdoğan condemned the cartoon, the publisher of Gırgır closed the magazine and threatened to file criminal complaints against staffers.”
Librarians are calling for a national audit to reveal the true extent of the problem, with the news coming as the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) sent an open letter to chancellor Philip Hammond calling on him to increase funding for the sector, to protect it from irreparable decline as part of his strategy for economic growth.
“Previously, the text had only been published anonymously in a six-part series in a New York City newspaper in 1852. But last summer the novel was rediscovered by a graduate student deep within the Library of Congress. This is the second Whitman novel that the literary scholar Zachary Turpin has unearthed.”
The already-notorious Milo Yiannopoulos lost his book contract and biggest speaking gig this week after video surfaced of him arguing in favor of sex between men and 13-year-old boys. Now Salon has taken down a controversial article in which a man who has an attraction to children explains how he keeps himself from acting on it. Jesse Singal makes a case that Salon‘s decision was wrongheaded.
Rivka Galchen writes about how she, like many, misunderstood Don Quixote when she first read it. Benjamin Moser argues that the answer to the question has to be the Bible. (Too easy?)
Following in the footsteps of unlikely writer-in-residence stunts at places like the Ace Hotel, London’s Heathrow Airport, and aboard Amtrak, the Mall of America will give one writer the chance to spend a short residency “deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words” in celebration of the mall’s 25th birthday this year.
In one rural county in Hunan province, women developed a phonetic writing system called nüshu, in which they wrote poems, letters, and even autobiographies. Lauren Young gives a brief history of nüshu and its rediscovery in the 1980s – and she debunks a couple myths about it.
The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle, published without a byline, was serialized in the New York Sunday Dispatch 165 years ago. Jennifer Schuessler tells how a graduate student at the University of Houston found the novel and figured out its authorship.
“In a series of public talks entitled ‘The Cassandra Phenomenon,’ world class writers Herta Müller, David Grossman, and Wole Soyinka [added] their voices to the debate about international security challenges.”
“Simon & Schuster received a hefty backlash to their decision to publish Dangerous in the first place, given Yiannopoulos’ history of xenophobia, misogyny, and hate speech. Some critics threatened to boycott the publishing house in response, and Roxane Gay withdrew her upcoming book from the publisher in protest.”
“If you have a famous name, you are probably judged a little more harshly. There’s a prejudice that can be slightly burdensome, or merely a little irritating. The presumption is that someone wrote the book for you, or that you never had to work hard to survive.”
Finding essays outside one’s personal experience “would be work that was harrowing in another sense of the word, which originally referred to preparing fields for planting by breaking up the soil. A true harrowing essay would dig deeper, ultimately performing a generative function.”
Or really, more than one revolution – and constant revolutions: “Art isn’t easy. It’s not just that we need a revolution in style but also a revolution in audience, distribution, circulation, performance, perception and, indeed, motivation. These revolutions are never a question of being marked as ahead of the times. … Rather, the issue is staying in and with the times and not letting the times drown you.”
While the population of the U.S. is 38 percent people who identify as African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander, books written or illustrated by people from those categories clocked in at just 427 out of 3,400 children’s books published in 2016.
“To accept my definition of style is to concede that for it to assert itself, a number of pretty unusual characteristics have to coexist in one individual. As such, a gifted writer’s style is as irreducible and arbitrarily conferred as any talent; amenable to practice and refinement, sure, but at base as God-given and inimitable as Federer’s touch or Picasso’s hand. Here lies the existential challenge faced by the style guide or writer’s manual: beyond the nuts and bolts of usage and basic writerly manners, they are attempting to teach the unteachable.”