Also the name of a beautiful book of poetry by Jake Adam York, a group of starlings is known as a “murmuration.” One could make the case that the birds are America’s most literary. Each of the hundreds of millions of European starlings currently inhabiting North America is a descendant of the approximately 100 birds released in New York City’s Central Park in the early 1890s. They were released by a society intent on populating America with each of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
At Salon, Kyle Minor listens to an audiobook recording of Joan Didion’s Salvador and finds that it remains “immediately relevant to a new reader whose memory of its context is more the kind of memory that arises from having read books about history than one that arises from having been old enough in 1983 to understand the meaning of phrases such as death squad, or body count, or mechanism of terror.”
Read Russia 2012 aims to celebrate contemporary Russian literature and book culture, and they’ve scheduled a bunch of events in the NYC area to coincide with next week’s BEA. You should certainly check them out, as well as NYRB Classics’ ongoing coverage of their own Russian literature highlights. (You can get even more information over here, too.)
The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas made headlines when it acquired the David Foster Wallace archives. Now it’s added another high profile author to its collection: J. M. Coetzee.
Among the raft of news stories that came out about Facebook recently, you may have missed the company’s quiet revolution in grammar, signified by its adoption of the much-debated singular “they.” If thinking about this change makes you queasy, just remember that singular “they” has been around since the days of Chaucer. (Related: Fiona Maazel on bad grammar.)
“The fact that Harry Potter midnight release parties were the event to go to as a teen was completely unprecedented in geek culture. You can draw a dotted line to the mainstreaming of geek culture through Harry Potter.” Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Huffington Post asks authors, editors, and publishers how Rowling’s juggernaut changed reading and the world of Young Adult fiction. Then see this counterpoint from our own pages last year: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.