Posts Tagged: The Atlantic

Apocalypse Now

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Take that, Mom and Dad. Turns out studying literature can be practical. The Atlantic looks at the evolution of climate fiction, a new genre that’s getting readers interested in environmental issues and inspiring students to study STEM subjects:

In this respect, cli-fi is a truly modern literary phenomenon: born as a meme and raised into a distinct genre by the power of social media.

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Economy of Language

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The Global Language Monitor estimates that the English language has over a million words. In contrast, the invented language Toki Pona has just over a hundred—a feature “designed to change how speakers think.” Its simplicity, besides making the language easy to learn, forces the speaker to creatively talk around concepts using metaphors, merge related concepts into one word, and take into account the other person’s perspective.

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Preserving Poetic Packaging

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Remember the literary packaging that Jonathan Safran Foer developed with Chipotle? Well, someone at Yale has decided it’s worth holding onto—the Beinecke Rare Book Library will soon add a complete set of the cups and carry-out bags printed with the work of Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and others to its collection of “publications combining poetry and unusual printing formats.”

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Word of the Day: Quiddity

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(n.); the essence or inherent nature of a person or thing; an eccentricity; an odd feature; a trifle, nicety or quibble; from the Latin quid (“what”)

“He was friendly, polite, and deeply interested in even the fine points I raised, and to my astonishment accepted a number of my changes, later saying that he had learned a lot in the process.

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Charles Simic on Walt Whitman

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Poet Charles Simic may prefer the “pleasant aftertaste” of a literary amuse-bouche before bed, but when prompted about one of his favorite literary passages, he chose Walt Whitman’s “A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim.” Over at the Atlantic, Simic explains why the poem moves him through the context of his experiences growing up in Belgrade during WWII:

I’m not a person who gets teary-eyed reading poetry—other people’s poetry, or my own.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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You can count on One Story as a sort of literary sieve, distilling story-sized servings of up-and-coming writers we should know, and soon enough will know, if we don’t know them already. Next week, One Story will host its annual Literary Debutante Ball, a party thrown in honor of those who’ve published stories with them and whose first books were born this year.

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An “I” for an “I”

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For a growing number of essayists, memoirists, and other wielders of the unwieldy “I,” confessional has become an unwelcome label—an implicit accusation of excessive self-absorption, of writing not just about oneself but for oneself.

Over at the Atlantic, Leslie Jamison argues that personal writing isn’t always confessional or solipsistic writing.

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Word of the Day: Suppalpation

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(n); gaining affection by caressing; the act of enticing by soft words; from the Latin suppalpari (“to caress a little”)

Simply put, written English is great for puns but terrible for learning to read or write. It’s like making children from around the world complete an obstacle course to fully participate in society but requiring the English-speaking participants to wear blindfolds.

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Hornby Keeps It Fresh

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For the Atlantic, Jennie Rothenberg Gritz interviews Nick Hornby about his new book Funny Girl and his experience adapting Cheryl Strayed’s Wild for the big screen. While Hornby says he would not consider writing a screenplay based on his own books, adapting other authors’ work has helped him to mix things up and “keep things fresh”:

A lot of what Funny Girl is about for me is the experience feeling very happy doing a certain thing with a certain group of people.

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500 Years of Drunk

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How many different words are there for “intoxicated”? Quite a lot, as it turns out—writers have been inventing new words to describe inebriation for just about as long as they’ve been drinking. A new book exploring the history of synonyms of wasted reveals the origins of some five hundred years of poggled language.

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Mr. Difficult, Mr. Easy

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Is Moby-Dick really a tougher read than Fifty Shades of Grey? Noah Berlatsky argues that the distinction depends on the reader:

…”difficulty” seems to hold out the possibility of more objective standards—to assure us that these books, over here, by Joyce and Faulkner, are 1000 pounds of pure prose, while these books over there, by Stephenie Meyer or Tom Clancy, are sniveling 90-pound weaklings of meretriciousness.

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Was Prufrock the First Hipster?

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For the Atlantic, Karen Swallow Prior puts a new spin on the origin story of the “hipster,” arguing that T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock was actually one of the first:

Prufrock of the cuffed white flannel trousers cultivates a detached earnestness that isn’t unlike the modern-day adult who is as eager to reject a hollow consumerism as he is to signify that rejection through the material signs of thrift-store chic: the trucker cap, fuzzy sweater, the thrift-store trousers, or horn-rimmed eyewear.

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What’s the Difference Between You and Your Great Great Great-Grandfather?

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At the Atlantic, David Mitchell discusses his new novel, the poem he keeps above his desk, and how to write. He explains that his work involves writing about distance and time, and that requires figuring out how one culture differs from another:

Much of my work involves writing about scenes set far in the future or deep in the past.

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