In 1946, George Orwell wrote that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman's piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it's worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
"I rather like the idea of just using a few brushstrokes to create a whole world. And, of course, with Twitter you do that, you can tell a very big story in a few lines." Books and Arts Daily talks with Alexander McCall Smith about the new art of Twitter fiction. Pair with the full text of David Mitchell's Twitter story "The Right Sort," exclusively on The Millions.
You may have heard that Vulture editor Adam Sternbergh was nominated for an Edgar Award for his book Shovel Ready last week. Now, to give Vulture readers a taste of his literary style, he’s published an annotated excerpt of the sequel Near Enemy, which came out earlier this month. As the introduction puts it, the excerpt includes “thoughts on history's first murder, the dubious appeal of Pepé Le Pew, and just how crazy New York apartment locks used to be.”
"One of the most rewarding parts of reading Jane Eyre as a thirteen-year-old Midwesterner is taking a wild shot in the dark at the meaning of all of the untranslated French passages." Mallory Ortberg at The Toast takes a shot at translating some of Jane Eyre's trickier passages. Bonus: here are a bunch of reasons why Mr. Rochester is a creep.