Out this week: Black Glass by Karen Joy Fowler; The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera; The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler; The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George; The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango; Tradition by Daniel Khalastchi; and Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“I am uncomfortable in my role as witness.” Nehal El-Hadi writes for The New Inquiry about the online spectacle of black death, exploring what “Black thanatosensitive” user experience design might look like. And ICYMI: our own Ismail Muhammad on Frank Ocean and depictions of the black male body.
The word “cool” has been cool for more than 70 years. At Slate, Carl Wilson examines why this slang stuck, and how it’s evolved from being used by beatniks to smartphone companies. “Cool is an attitude that allows detached assessment, but one that prizes an air of knowingness over specific knowledge. I think that’s why it doesn’t become dated, unlike hotter-running expressions of enthusiasm like groovy or rad.” Pair with: Michael Agger’s essay on why we love the “cool story, bro” meme.
“James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.” The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike‘s letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.
Last Thursday, Faulkner Literary Rights, the company controlling William Faulkner’s works, proved two things by suing Sony Pictures Classics: 1) that they finally got around to seeing Midnight In Paris (2011); and 2) that they’re not down with Woody Allen’s decision to include two of the Nobel Prize-winning author’s lines in Owen Wilson’s dialogue.