Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
“The home I grew up in will never exist again, and this is why I write so much about home, perhaps. Because I lost mine,” Jesmyn Ward told Roxane Gay in an interview for The Toast. They discussed Ward’s new memoir, Men We Reaped, her writing process, and how she deals with being labeled a “black woman writer.”
Is long form nonfiction returning to prominence and popularity? Folks at The LA Times‘ blog think so. Anna Clark has posted a list of recommended reading for aspiring nonfiction writers, too.
More amusement has been prompted by The History of Love author Nicole Krauss’s arguably over-the-top blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land: “To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.” Following Guardian’s subsequent contest for who can write the most absurdly laudatory blurb for a Dan Brown novel, Laura Miller at Salon dissects why author endorsements are so unreliable.