Noreen Malone – writing in Slate – launches a rearguard action against the em-dash. Is it fair to harbor punctuation prejudice? If so, a confession: I can’t stand the ampersand.
A newly released Roald Dahl collection, The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, includes a secret ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and excerpts from the author's hilariously bad report cards. Wrote one teacher about Dahl in 1931: "A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel." (via Galley Cat)
"I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot." Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers' Recommends series.
Mavis Gallant, who passed away a year ago this February, published a total of a hundred and sixteen short stories in The New Yorker, which puts her on par with short story factories like John Cheever and John Updike. Yet by the time she died, she was penniless and alone, a fact which worried the few people in Paris who knew her well. In The Walrus, David MacFarlane examines what her writing meant to him. Pair with: Laurel Berger on her own fascination with the author.
Last year, Laura van den Berg came out with a new book, The Isle of Youth, which Nathan Huffstutter reviewed for The Millions. On the Guernica blog, Dwyer Murphy interviews van den Berg, who talks about jacket photos, her first collection and whether a writer from Florida is part of the Southern tradition. (You could also read van den Berg’s Year in Reading entry.)
Add this to the list of incredible things you didn’t know you needed until now. At Quartz, Jenni Avins reads through a selection of hand-typed book reviews, found in the NYPL’s archives, in which librarians tear apart children’s books they find objectionable. Sample quote, from a review of Green Eggs and Ham: “There must be better ways of teaching a child to read than this.”