One of the best parts of last month’s Cullman Center discussion between John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wells Tower was watching JJS carry on the conversation while sipping from a highball glass of whiskey. The essayist’s Southern roots and Irish ancestry of course make him no stranger to potent potables, which is why Danny Nowell’s “John Jeremiah Sullivan” cocktail is so appropriate.
Out this week: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson; The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum; At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen; The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak; and The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
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.)
Debut short story writer Matthew Vollmer gets some love.For those left baffled by descriptions of “the Purdie shuffle” in last week’s New Yorker and New York Times, the mighty Bernard “Pretty” Purdie offers a demonstration.At the International Edible Book Festival, you can chase down your Remembrance of Things Pasta with some Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Bread (via The Book Bench)Despite (or because of?) its compassionate ecumenicalism, Sana Krasikov’s One More Year wins the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize.A 1979 cover letter from then-unknown Kazuo Ishiguro, re: the story “Getting Poisoned.” Bonus features: Hemingwavian brevity, grease stains.The New York Times Magazine’s editor ponders the fate of long-form journalism……while Vanity Fair questions the Times’ relentless interactivity.Stephen King, once thought to be considering retirement, has been as prolific as ever, now announcing the November publication of a 1,120-page novel, Under the Dome, about a town that has been sealed off by an invisible force field.The Complete Review turns 10!30 Poets/30 Days: a celebration of children’s poetry”Notes and Errata” on D. T. Max’s profile of David Foster Wallace “The Unfinished.” (via kottke)Kassia Krozser says “Enough With The Smell of Books, Okay?” about the olfactory argument in the ebooks debate.William Zinsser on writing On Writing Well and keeping it up-to-date for 35 years.Google poses a literary stumper.
According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.