Just when you thought long-form communication was dead. The city of Melbourne gave email addresses to trees, which has incurred an outpouring of love letters and even exchanges between people and their addressee-trees....more
Posts Tagged: The Atlantic
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....more
If you win, then you talk to the other winners, congratulating and praising them. If you lose, then you read through your submission, noting mistakes that weren’t there five minutes before, wondering where you went wrong,” she adds. “You tell yourself, ‘It doesn’t really matter.
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.”...more
But no coverage of the book I’ve seen has discussed it as a novel fundamentally about gay lives—as the most ambitious chronicle of the social and emotional lives of gay men to have emerged for many years.
Garth Greenwell claims to have found “the great gay novel” in Hanya Yanagihara’s recently published A Little Life....more
(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.
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.
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....more
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.
Writing fiction, to me, feels a bit like the moment in those Roadrunner cartoons where he runs off the cliff and the bridge builds itself underneath his feet. You see the planks of wood flying up, supporting him, but if he stops—that’s it, he plummets.
(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.
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.
In the fashion world, understanding the zeitgeist is a way of orienting oneself within a temporal framework. And it’s in this way that style is woven so memorably through Didion’s writing. What someone is wearing betrays not just the aesthetic of a certain moment but the emotional weight that Didion assigns to it.
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....more
…”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.
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.
For the Atlantic, John Paul Rollert attends an Objectivist conference in Las Vegas to explore the legacy of Ayn Rand’s work. While for many Objectivists the philosophy “begins, and ends, with the word of Ayn Rand,” others question the “amenability” of Rand’s writing in an attempt to “further philosophical development.”...more
We all know that keeping a personal journal is pretty good both to for our writing and to help clarify the mind and spirit, but that it also takes a effort to keep a journal regularly. To help with that, Albert Lee designed the Emojiary app: a diary one can fill with just… emoji!...more
But if a novel starts well and descends into trash, then it seems to me that it’s worth continuing to see if it gets better, or to see where the writer went wrong. And if it was bad from page one, then the whole “should I drop it?” issue is secondary.
2014 may not have been an especially good year for female writers in general, but it apparently saw a rise in prizes and accolades for women writing science fiction. Unfortunately, this is but a small step forward toward gender equality within the genre....more
Nothing much more needs to be said: At the Atlantic, “the author of White Noise reviews Taylor Swift’s white noise.”...more
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.
After publishing a collection of short stories earlier this year, B.J. Novak has just released his first book for children, Book With No Pictures. The title is pretty self-explanatory—as an interview with Novak in the Atlantic puts it, instead of traditional pictures,
…words form statements like, “My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named Boo-Boo Butt.” The joke is that the grown-up has to say every outrageous thing on the page, which makes the kid feel like an evil genius.
(n.); an unwell feeling, particularly in the head; a moody depression; c. 1918, from Nevil Shute’s The Rose and the Rainbow
The archetype of the mad genius dates back to at least classical times, when Aristotle noted, “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies toward melancholia.”
—“Secrets of the Creative Brain,” Nancy C.