In part because I loved Sam Anderson’s riff on Barthes in this weekend’s NYT Magazine so much, I was thrilled to see Maud Newton tweet this link this 2010 article on Barthes’s handwriting, featuring a slideshow of note cards Barthes used to compose his Mourning Diary.
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn’t and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
The huge, McSweeney’s-published, John Sayles novel A Moment in the Sun has been getting great reviews. It’s now out. Also new this week is China Mieville’s Embassytown, reviewed here today; Paul Theroux’s exploration of the genre of travel writing, The Tao of Travel; prizewinning Nigerian author Helon Habila’s new novel Oil on Water; and A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, the complete stories of Margaret Drabble, recently written up by Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker. New in paperback are a pair of Millions Hall of Famers, Emma Donoghue’s Room and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
“Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well. Recent examples suggest a spectrum, from reviews that harmlessly kick off with a personal anecdote, to hybrid pieces that blend literary criticism and longform memoir.” On why critics get personal in their essays.
Kevin Barry has won the lucrative €100,000 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel City of Bohane, capably reviewed in these pages over a year ago by Bill Morris (whose drawing of Barry illustrates the piece). You can also relive this year’s massive longlist and quirky shortlist.