For Slate, Ruth Graham suggests that improved access to books and a decline in censorship has turned Banned Books Week into “crock”. So “instead of hand-wringing about a nonexistent wave of censorship,” Graham encourages readers to think about the week with some positivity and celebrate that “books won.”...more
Posts Tagged: slate
In response to Slate’s viral article about the rise of the “harrowing personal essay,” prominent editors from different publications weigh in on the importance of confessional writing, reasons for its gender divide, and the publishing process behind it....more
Wittgenstein explains why discourse on the Internet sucks. And it’s not just because of your crazy uncle.
So, language is quicksand—except it’s not. Unlike the parlor tricks of the deconstructionists who bloviate about différance and traces, there clearly are rules that shouldn’t be broken and clearly ways of speaking that are blatantly incorrect, even if they change over time and admit to flexible interpretations even on a daily basis.
After reading the first two books in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, Sara Goldsmith enlisted her mother to translate the third book from Italian so that she didn’t have to wait another year for the English release. Now, for Slate, Goldsmith shares how the experience generated a new respect for the scope and craft of Ferrante’s novels, as well as how the project influenced her relationship with her mother:
For my mom and me—who, like all mothers and daughters, sometimes have a difficult relationship—the novels have given us a way to stay in closer touch and a subject to return to and discuss.
After 13 years, another Milan Kundera novel has been translated into English for all us provincials who never learned French. At Slate, Benjamin Herman praises The Festival of Insignificance for its lighthearted wisdom:
Insignificance is the work not of a grumpy old man but of a grinning old man.
Gabriel Roth has some hard truths about The Poky Little Puppy, and he’s not wrong.
Millions of people enjoyed The Poky Little Puppy as children, because it was cheap and because, being children, they had no standards. They grew up to be parents, remembered the book fondly from childhood, and purchased it for their own children.
Shirley Jackson’s bone-chilling story “The Lottery” is probably the last thing anyone wants to associate with Mother’s Day, yet her lurking plot twists and sharp character insights are the perfect tools to write about parenting. In this month’s Slate Book Review, Dan Kois explains how Jackson’s books depicted family life well before any of us knew what to expect when expecting:
Airy unconcern about the state of one’s home, marriage, or children, masking a deeper unspoken acknowledgment that all will forever exist in a state of chaos?
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is driven by the search and discovery of Kurtz, the man turned mad by Africa. Kurtz is the pale white colonizer who rapes the continent, is also worshiped by the native population, and provides fodder for an endless stream of undergraduate English papers....more
For Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how The Great Gatsby went from a marginal publication to a central part of America’s literary canon. According to Hartmann, much of the novel’s early struggles emerged from criticism that misrepresented Fitzgerald’s satirical position, as critics stood too close to a cultural moment:
Fitzgerald’s contemporaries were unable to see the novel for what it was—biting satire of the hypocrisy of the profligate Jazz Age—because they were in the thick of it.
Photographer Lawrence Schwartzwald finds people reading just about everywhere. He’s been going around New York City, snapping pictures of people reading books in unlikely places. Slate caught up with Scwartzwald, who explains his fascination with people and their books:
You just get a visceral reaction, like writing a great story or reading one for that matter, there’s an emotional, psychological component to it that you sense and occasionally you’re able to capture it because sometimes you may have literally one frame to get it off and you either get it or you don’t.
So now, 125 years after Kreutzer’s 1889 publication, Tolstoy’s wife gets to have her say.
Sofiya Tolstoy, indignant about the violent and misogynistic plot of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata, wrote a novella in response to the book from the female’s character point of view....more
Rejection is an essential part of editing and publishing, but also a source of criticism of the industry. Over at Slate, Daniel Menaker comes to the defense of the publishing industry’s gatekeepers, explaining the importance of professionals in guiding the production of literature:
The modern, often online and anonymous, neo-Levellers who object to the “elitism” of publishing arrive at their position from the other side, the populist.
2014 wasn’t just the year of the debut—plenty of authors released their second novel, often considered the most challenging for writers to write. Slate sat down with some second-time novelists to discuss their sophomore efforts, like Family Life author Akhil Sharma who spent a dozen years on the novel:
If you write for two or three years and don’t make much progress, you begin to think that there is something wrong with you.
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
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
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.