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.”
"The appropriate term for what both [David Foster] Wallace and [Roger] Federer did, however, perhaps isn’t synthesis; more apt would be the Hegelian term, aufheben, which can mean a great many things – to lift up, to abolish, to cancel, to suspend, to sublate, to preserve, to transcend – all at once, where two existing terms are abolished, sublated, transcended by way of the orchestration of a collision between them, out of which a new term emerges, which then itself goes in search of a partner with which to collide." A really fantastic review of David Foster Wallace's String Theory from 3:AM Magazine.
Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on "blandness" in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
Errol Flynn was unique. Quick with a quip, the Australian-born silver screen swashbuckler (and current Tumblr heartthrob) had such immortal lines as, “I like my whiskey old and my women young.” Fans have long been drawn to the actor’s incredibly interesting life—much of which was relayed in his posthumously published autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways—so the Cuban National Archive’s uncovering of previously lost footage from his film Cuban Story should excite many of them.
“Back in the 1800s, for instance, when white women began recording their family food traditions, they took credit for their slaves' handiwork. ‘You owned Sally, you owned her recipe,’ Toni Tipton-Martin reflected on an episode of the podcast Gravy.” At Mother Jones, read about the secret history of black chefs in America.
Out this week: Thirty Girls by Susan Minot; The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol; The Bear by Claire Cameron; The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton; The Quiet Streets of Winslow by Judy Troy; a new translation of August by Christa Wolf; The Parallel Apartments by Bill Cotter; and The Journey of a Caribbean Writer by Maryse Condé. For more on these and other new releases, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.