Wallace Shawn, one of The Millions’ favorite humans, interviewed at Splice Today.
Ilan Stavans’s introduction to the quadricentennial edition of Don Quixote is available on the Literary Hub website. As he explains it, the narrative is both baffling and perfect: “What I like most about Don Quixote is its imperfection. I wasn’t wrong in my teens about the sloppiness of the writing; it is just that my attitude was too pedantic. It is, unquestionably, a defective narrative. Cervantes is often criticized as a numb and careless stylist.”
A basketball player gets kicked in the testicles and hundreds of news outets have to figure out how the heck to write about it: “Different outlets have different comfort levels when writing about the crotch. The New York Times, for example, threw idiomatic English out the door on first reference: ‘Exhibit A was that [Draymond] Green picked up a flagrant-1 foul — while hacked in the act of shooting — with 5 minutes 57 seconds left in the half by flailing a leg between those of Steven Adams, who wound up doubled over.'”
Helen Vendler is one of those rare scholar-writers who doesn’t adhere to a particular school of theory. In her new book of essays, she explains her view of criticism as distinct from both philosophy and scholarship, as a form of learning that’s inherently “unsystematic and idiosyncratic.” In Open Letters Monthly, Jack Hanson reads through the book. You could also read Jonathan Farmer on Rita Dove’s letter to Vendler.
“Six thousand books is a lot of reading, true, but the trash like Hell’s Belles and Kid Colt and The Legend of the Lost Arroyo and even Part-Time Harlot, Full-Time Tramp that I devoured during my misspent teens really puff up the numbers. And in any case, it is nowhere near a record. Winston Churchill supposedly read a book every day of his life, even while he was saving Western Civilization from the Nazis. This is quite an accomplishment, because by some accounts Winston Churchill spent all of World War II completely hammered.”
“Tarzan know, Tarzan know: ‘Mood? Me want to write like Warren Buffett. Mood — that for house DJ or Al Green.'” Here is Tarzan’s Guide to Elliptical Style For Effective Business Writing from the good people over at McSweeney’s.