Holding it in your hand now, we hope it feels familiar and warm, at once reminding you of the great history of The Review, while also giving you a sense that you’re being handed the very future of writing and art.
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has added a new test to their admissions process. Prospective students are more likely to be admitted to the school if they prove that they are “confident” that they can “control” their own fates:
Students who answer in ways that suggest that they are confident they can control their fates—or who have a “locus of control” to use the psychological term—will get an edge in admissions decisions.
Books have been written or arranged in chapters for over two millennia now, although that fact has never received the attention it deserves from historians of the written word. Perhaps the sheer longevity of the concept has rendered it invisible.
The New Yorker takes a look at the long history of how we divide up our books....more
At the Paris Review, Dwyer Murphy interviews David Gordon about transitioning from writing novels to stories, his time working for Hustler, and how he blends literary and genre fiction in his work:
I think that horror and sci-fi in particular are great generators of imagery, and genre produces great characters.
My mother stood before me in her quilted bathrobe, dark hair held back in a ponytail, her eyes sunken, grey. I felt like the narrator of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, who, startled out of sleep, opens his eyes to behold the monster reaching out to him: ‘the miserable monster .
At The Hairpin, Caitlin Doughty, mortician and author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory, talks about death positivity, women in the funeral business, zombies, and why she thinks the recent move toward alternative burial practices is more than just a trend:
I don’t want to say it’s a trend because that makes it seem like it’s going to be a fad for a couple of years and then go away… like artisanal pickles or something .
Some artists demand our respect right away, and others earn it over time. Justin Timberlake made a big splash as a cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club in the early 90s, and an even bigger one as a member of the wildly successful boy band, NSYNC....more
Invoking his new play, Buzz, Benjamin Kunkel writes in the New Yorker about how “few imaginative writers have dealt with the present-day experience of global warming in a direct and concentrated way” and why this might be the case:
If climate change has, to date, proved hard to write about, that’s because it exists for most of us, to date, as something that afflicts different neighborhoods, distant cities, or future times.
Pamela Munro on reviving a language no one speaks:
It’s hard to find information on Tongva. There are no audio recordings of people speaking the language, just a few scratchy wax cylinder recordings of Tongva songs. There are additional word lists from scholars, explorers, and others dating from 1838 to 1903, but Harrington’s notes are the best source of information on the language.
At Co.EXIST, Jessica Leber pits the algorithms of digital giants Amazon and Goodreads against the ultimate recommendation engine: librarians. Leber details her experience with the Brooklyn Public Library’s BookMatch program, in which real librarians respond to patron’s requests for reading recommendations based on other books they’ve enjoyed....more
A century ago, Princeton University was a premiere football school. As a freshman, F. Scott Fitzgerald was cut from the team after just one day. But that didn’t stop him from calling the famed football coach Fritz Crisler in the middle of the night with crazy football strategies, one of which might very well have been fielding separate teams for offense and defense....more
We have to interrogate our basic assumption that writing skills possessed by educated white people are the best skills around…Humor, action, relatable language, and plotting are not lesser tools in a writer’s toolbox, but equally necessary ones.
(n.); the utterance of articulate sounds by a ghost or a spirit
“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.
Writing for the NYR Blog, Edward Mendelson gets deep into philosophy to address a true writer’s question: Is Microsoft Word the best tool for composing text? Borrowing ideas from Plato, Auden, and the programming concept of a “kludge,” Mendelson teases out some key differences between writing in theory and in practice....more
Tone is an everyday kind of maneuver. It disrupts and communicates aggression, disgust, dis- respect, and humor, among a myriad of possibilities, thereby allowing language to morph into a blanket or a gun.
As if upending the publishing industry with its ongoing battle with Hachette wasn’t enough, now Amazon wants to cut out publishers entirely. Amazon is launching a new program called Kindle Scout, a system where customers will read excerpts and vote on which books will move forward with publication....more
For the burgeoning field of Critical Bibliography, “the study of the physical characteristics of books and the process of bookmaking,” Rare Book School is the highlight of the year. The Paris Review’s Benjamin Breen reports from the annual conference out of UVA, where old-school book enthusiasts gather to share in the examination of woodcuts, medieval manuscripts, and specimens like a gold-edged copy of Encyclopédie with Diderot’s handwritten notes in the margins....more
[Lowry] spent a decade working on In Ballast to the White Sea, but the draft was lost when his shack near Vancouver in Canada burned down in 1944. However, it has transpired that Lowry had given an early copy to his first wife’s mother.
For The Millions, Nathan Scott McNamara tracks John Barth and John Updike’s friendship through a series of letters written over the authors’ celebrated careers. While early letters show a relationship of admiration and respect, differences in philosophy and style led to in an increasingly “thorny” rapport in later years....more
Jane Austen has been blowing up these days, with hundreds of fan-fictional responses to Pride and Prejudice gracing the dusty corners of bookstores and the Internet. Over at Flavorwire, Sarah Seltzer wonders why we’re still so eager to return to Pemberley:
Because Austen doesn’t overload us with sensory details about her characters, but merely depicts them walking around in the world, talking, judging, and making mistakes, we project a lot of our own experience and imagination into our reading, and this makes us feel personally acquainted with them.