Elissa Schappell’s quick-witted book criticism now has an online presence with the debut of her Vanity Fair column, Just My Type. First up: a look at new fantasy fiction and a consideration of genre-bending novels, with a winning recommendation of Ann Beattie’s >Mrs. Nixon.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”
Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.
Pew Research published 10 Facts About Americans and Public Libraries, and some of the findings may surprise you. For example, would you have guessed that 26% of library patrons say their use has gone up in the past five years? Other findings, of course, won’t shock anybody — such as the fact that e-reading is on the rise, which, as I noted two years ago, poses some serious ecological challenges.
France’s top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, has been awarded to the French-Moroccan journalist and novelist Leïla Slimani, The New York Times reports. Slimani’s book, Chanson Douce, is loosely based on a tragic case in New York City in which two children were murdered by their caretaker. Earlier this year we reviewed another book that was a finalist for the prize, The Heart.
Here’s the perfect example of something you didn’t even know you wanted: Gary Oldman doing a dramatic reading from R. Kelly’s memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me. This performance will surely join the pantheon of great pop culture readings alongside Christopher Walken’s reading of Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” and John Lithgow’s reading of Newt Gingrich’s “florid” and “overwritten” press release.