Happy Halloween! At the New Yorker, the winners of the dress your pet as a literary character contest. Don’t miss the honorable mentions (I’m partial to the feline Moby Dick).
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem "To Fortune." As Herrick writes, "Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)" For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel's piece on commercial grammar.
“Then there’s the no-one-reads-anymore hysteria, the lack of supportive careers for apprenticing writers, the MFA deathtrap, etc. It feels self-indulgent as a critic to say, ‘But the whole critical structure has broken down, let’s talk about that.’ The critic only comes into play when the books are actually produced and put onto the market, meaning their jobs are tied into this whole decaying, rotting mess of an industry.” Jessa Crispin writes on the self-hating book critic.