“‘Man is hungry for beauty. There is a void.’ Nine words. Take a moment. Say them aloud. What else is there to be said?” –Arthur Krystal’s essay on Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty, at Powell’s Books. (via Arts & Letters Daily)
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.
Recommended recommendations: 21 of the best debut and sophomore works being published this year, compiled by Refinery29. For even more, be sure to check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)
This is an interview in which five-year-old Desmond and eight-year-old Everett ask some hard-hitting questions of M. Quint regarding her new book The Defiant, and in which Jonathan Lethem makes a brief cameo to helpfully facilitate the discussion–do you need any more reason to read this piece? Here’s a quick hit from C. Max Magee, creator of The Millions, on giving the classics to kids.