David Mitchell, when questioned about his language and genre experiments, particularly in Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, responds: “It’s a bit like asking a duck billed platypus if it should be considered a mammal or a bird.” The Millions also profiled Mitchell, though we never settled either way on the bird/mammal issue.
The essay is more than just a literary genre but a lifestyle, and it’s dominating American society, Christy Wampole argues. “The genre and its spirit provide an alternative to the dogmatic thinking that dominates much of social and political life in contemporary America,” she writes.
Year in Reading alumnus Jonathan Safran Foer and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman have been exchanging emails for over a decade. Over at The New York Times Magazine, they share their recent correspondence on how things have changed since the beginning of their friendship.
This interactive guide to the demise (or, rather, the rise) of the passive voice by Vijith Assar at McSweeney’s is every bit as fascinating as it is troubling. This notable piece from The Millions by Fiona Maazel should act as a nice grammatical complement.
At the LARB, Scott Korb interviews Rosie Schaap, who offers up a theory that bars and churches are both a kind of “sanctified space.” To get more insight, you could also check out her Rumpus interview, or even go watch her mix cocktails with Kurt Andersen of NPR. (You could also just go buy her book.)