Posts Tagged: slate
The past is always a story, impossible to remember without molding it into a narrative that privileges some details over others and colors memory with tone. Reflecting on a recent trend toward biographical fiction, Joanna Scutts warns us about the dangers of time travel:
When imagination pours into the gaps in the biographical record, overcoming the frustrations of burned letters and lost diaries by making things up, it replaces history with a plausible lie, which tells us far more about our own time than it does about the past.
“You don’t have to be at the mercy of the muse. You need your own internalized thinking process that you can perform again and again.” Although Lena abandoned her desire to be an artist in the strict sense, her definition of an artist could be applied to her current role.
For Slate, David Rosenberg explores the work of Bryan David Griffith, who spent the year photographing independent bookstores around the US. According to Griffith, the project is not meant to be nostalgic, but rather serves as a “study about the retail space, and how it might be a lot different 30 years from now.”...more
At Slate, Katy Waldman gives us a montage of authors editing their work, decades after it’s been published:
Fun fact: Three out of seven authors independently reference epic poetry. “What’s the first word” of the Iliad, asks Roth. “Rage. That is how the whole of European literature begins: singing the virile rage of Achilles.”
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.
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.
Librarians have hard-won reputations as defenders of open information and patron privacy, but what about third-party providers of library services? Slate’s Future Tense explores some recent revelations from companies like Adobe, whose Digital Editions e-book software has been criticized for transmitting reader data in plain text—making it an easy target for surveillance by the government, and other private companies....more
Rumpus columnist Sari Botton has just published a new collection of essays, Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York. Over at Slate, you can read Elliott Kalan’s contribution, “The City Where Grown-Ups Live.”...more
Lev Grossman discusses the challenges of writing a series, why his 20s were a lost decade, and his relationship with his readers....more
Writers often overuse a few unique words, creating a linguistic fingerprint. Vocabulary words are also exchanged between social groups. Some people contribute new words, while others adopt them. The process is not entirely random, though:
Diana Boxer, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in sociolinguistics, says that when we find ourselves in a situation where someone uses language differently than we do, or words we’re unfamiliar with, we usually respond in one of two ways.
Somewhere in the Pacific ocean, a whale of unprecedented size is swimming around and calling out to other whales, with no response. This is the “52 Blue” whale, subject of worldwide devotion and fascination and a beautiful new essay on being alone from Leslie Jamison....more
The rules come so naturally to us that we rarely learn about them in school, but over the past few decades language nerds have been monitoring modifiers, grouping them into categories, and straining to find logic in how people instinctively rank those categories.
People have taken to using the terms “book” and “novel” interchangeably, but non-fiction books are not novels, Ben Yagoda explains over at Slate. The shift might be attributed to the post-modern zeitgeist that blends fact and fiction into a fuzzy truth, or it might come down to language:
I tend to view it more pragmatically.
Notably, there are a few verbal tics that we mistakenly think index insecurity, even though they don’t. These (mostly feminine) quirks—uptalk, vocal fry—are often subtle expressions of power, innovativeness, or upward mobility. In fact, Adam Gopnik recently wrote about how verbal fillers like “um” and “you know” underscore a speaker’s conscientiousness, her sensitivity to the details she must, for reasons of economy, leave unsaid.
“Kipling,” says a psychiatrist friend of mine, “was always pretending to be something other than he actually was—which was a 10-year-old boy.” His work, the best of it, has a boy’s barbarism and a boy’s conservatism. “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” succeeds so spectacularly because it is, in a sense, written by that 10-year-old boy—by little Teddy, the quietest character in the story but the one with whose special boyish loves and terrors the narrative is saturated.
In an excerpt from her book The Shelf, Phyllis Rose illustrates the systematic dismissal of women writers through the imagined figure of Prospero’s Daughter: wealthy and educated yet burdened by the demands of a family life whose quotidian challenges, having monopolized her time, become central concerns in her work....more
Sandwiched between fictions on one side and instructions on the other, a woman is often denied the breathing room necessary to find her individual sexuality. In a conversation at the Nervous Breakdown, Rumpus contributor Ashley Perez and author Cris Mazza discuss sexual pain (both mental and physical) and the damaging standards fabricated by literature and expected in life:
I want every woman who wrote [an unrealistic sex scene] to sit in a therapy group with me and describe her own sexual experience, so I can gauge these fictional ones.
Jennifer Weiner’s recent claim that a serious author photos indicate serious literature is submited to scientifically unsound empirical testing over at Slate. Comparing the head shots of “Women’s Lit” writers to those of “Literary Fiction” best-sellers, Eliza Berman discovers an unexpected trend in the process: the mysterious middle ground of the indecipherable author smirk....more
You think your mom was a harsh critic? Slate published an excerpt of criticism about Mansfield Park from Jane Austen’s friends and family. Austen compiled the criticism in an 8-page document, which just shows that even successful novelists are insecure....more
Peter van Agtmael “has no desire to be at war.” But he spends his life documenting it with his camera, in all its manifestations: from the barracks to the homes of veterans. In the introduction to his recent book-length collection, Disco Night Sept....more
Sweny’s, the pharmacy made famous in Joyce’s Ulysses (when Leopold Bloom visits the Dublin shop to purchase lotion and soap for his wife Molly), opened more than 167 years ago and has remained more or less unchanged for most of that time....more
In his newly published The Novel: a Biography, Michael Schmidt takes some time to study how the wars of the 20th century shaped the great American novel, citing Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, and Joseph Heller among those that best dealt with the subject....more