- Author Elaine Dundy died last week. Terry Teachout excerpted his introduction to her book, The Dud Avocado. Edan mentioned the book not long ago in a “staff picks” post.
- “The One-Room M.F.A. Program“
- For John O’Brien, “Three” is not the magic number.
- Car names deemed “too academic:” Dodge Dissertation Defense V8, Chrysler Course Calendar Convertible, etc.
- AbeBooks’ online symposium on book burning.
George Dobbs explores the history of some common cliches for The Airship and makes an elegant argument for being aware of overused phrasing: “The worst fiction might never go beyond widely used tropes, but the best fiction starts with an awareness of them.” We agree, and also hope never to read “It was a dark and stormy night…” again.
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)