Recommended reading: Alex Beam on the distinction between books and "books."
The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year's finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah's What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin's Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons' What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier's Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin's 2017 Year in Reading entry.
“There are two extreme views about punctuation … the first is that you don’t actually need it because it’s perfectly possible to write down what you want to say without any punctuation marks or capital letters and people can still read it youdontevenneedspacesbetweenwordsreally. The second view is that punctuation is essential, not only to avoid ambiguity but also because it ‘shows our identity as educated people.’” Here is Adrienne Raphel from The New Yorker with a history of punctuation in the internet age.
“Limits stop you from living a life without limits,” writes Augusten Burroughs. “Of course, this is only an illusion. What limits really do is give you an acceptable excuse to avoid doing something.” (He’s talking about life, not Oulipo.) The piece is excerpted from his recent book, This Is How.