Phillip Roth wins the Man Booker International prize (a lifetime achievement award that’s a recent invention) and one of the judges steps down in protest. “I don’t rate him as a writer at all.”
“Why, hello there! — I was just appraising some rare PDFs in the back room when I heard you come in. Feel free to peruse our inventory, and if you have any questions, please allow me—one of the world’s foremost authorities on and purveyors of fine electronic books—to act as your steward through the wonderfully esoteric world of antique eBook collecting.”
“She was furious about the way the female college students of the next generation had been programmed to regard getting an MRS. degree as the be-all and end-all of their experience in higher education. She was enraged by the way the psychiatric profession regarded housewives’ unhappiness as a symptom of an out-of-whack libido. She was angry at the way the economy appeared to see her entire sex as simple consumption machines who built national prosperity by buying new appliances for the kitchen and searching madly for the perfect laundry detergent.” Betty Friedan’s second wave classic The Feminine Mystique turns fifty.
Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”