Mark O’Connell’s recent essay in these pages discussed how long, challenging novels can hold you captive (in both the good and bad senses of that phrase). Now, in the Times, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott come to the defense of “the slow and the boring” in film, responding Dan Kois’s Times Magazine piece confessing he’s “suffering from a kind of culture fatigue and have less interest in eating my cultural vegetables.”
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald was too provocative even for the 1920s. His short story collection Taps at Reveille was never published the way he wanted it to be. When the stories came out in The Sunday Evening Post in the 1920s and ’30s, all slang, slurs, and sexual innuendo were edited out. Now, almost a century later, we can read Fitzgerald’s original work in a new Cambridge edition.
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.