In a piece reminiscent of Talk of the Nation’s “You Can’t Possibly Read It All, So Stop Trying” episode, A D Jameson tracks every film he’s watched over a fifteen year span, and then discusses the data for HTMLGiant. Choice line (which could easily apply to literature, too): “The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)”
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like “Problems in Modern Fiction”? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as “Introduction to Despair,” “Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car,” and “The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace.” Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
The new year ushered in more than soon-to-be-broken resolutions. This January 1, a vast cache of works released in 1923 entered the public domain—including tens of thousands of books. Here’s how to download them for free, and here’s what all this means for publishers and readers alike. Happy hunting.