New Yorkers! Come out tonight and celebrate Kingsley Amis alongside the Volume 1 Brooklyn crew, the New York Review of Books Classics publishers, and also such guests as Parul Sehgal, Rosie Schaap, and Maud Newton. There will be free gin! However if you can’t make it, you can treat yourself to the Kingsley Amis Desert Island Discs from the comfort of your own home. The discs, recorded around the time The Old Devils was published, reveal the author’s views on “novel mechanics,” the “Welsh temperament,” and his affinity for jazz.
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
Sick of getting corrected for tiny grammatical mistakes? Turns out you may not be a forgetful person after all. According to a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, our brains have a tendency to fall into bad grammatical habits, even when we know the rules we’re trying to follow. In The Washington Post, Andrew Heisel investigates. You could also read Fiona Maazel on the specter of commercial grammar.
In Salon, Laura Miller discusses two new studies showing a correlation between the number of books in a child's household and the level of education that child's likely to attain: "Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books."
In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it "a marketing scam." (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that "You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page." (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
The L Magazine features an interview with poet/multi-genre artist Claudia Rankine, whose performance piece The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue -- a Rankine-written-and-recorded narrative that accompanies a bus ride through the South Bronx -- will run for two months beginning Labor Day Weekend.