"A film based on a historical subject, even a beautifully shot one, can remind us without meaning to that although reading in the US is a minority activity, the book is still the only medium in which you can make a complicated argument." Darryl Pinckney writes about "Some Different Ways of Looking at Selma" for the New York Review of Books. Pair with our own Bill Morris's Millions review of the film.
In a TED Talk, Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel show us how Google Labs' Ngram Viewer works. You can learn "surprising things" from 500 billion words, a string of characters which put together "would stretch from here to the Moon and back ten times over."
A somewhat startling headline: "Amelia Lester, 26 Year Old Former Fact Checker, is the New Managing Editor of The New Yorker." Another interesting tidbit: The New Yorker has been exempt from meeting with the consultants who are currently scrutinizing the rest of Conde Nast's titles.
"There’s more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date," Philip Roth said in an interview with Cynthia Haven for Stanford's The Book Haven. Besides his retirement from writing, Roth also discussed why he doesn't consider himself an American-Jewish writer and his book The Ghost Writer. For more Roth, read our essay on lessons you can learn from his work.
How often do journalists unfairly stereotype the Rust Belt? All the time, says Jim Russell. In a piece for Pacific Standard, he argues that much of the reporting on Dayton, Flint and other industrial towns falls prey to hyperbole and generalization. (Related: Darryl Campbell on the recession and Rust Belt fiction.)
New this week: Tupelo Hassman's debut Girlchild, a pair of novels -- Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek -- by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.