An analysis of the unsexy history of the word “Argh” with a catalog of its appearance during sexually explicit scenes in 5o Shades of Grey. Cf. Elizabeth Minkle’s Millions essay on 5o Shades and fan fiction.
“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Recently Salman Rushdie spoke at a conference in Delhi. He had been scheduled to appear with the Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who later pulled out of the event citing the “immeasurable hurt” that The Satanic Verses had done to Muslims. Rushdie, who had earlier been prevented from attending the Jaipur literary festival for fear of his presence inciting a riot, dismissed Khan’s claims: “The chilling effect of violence is very real and it is growing in this country.”
During the Cold War, the CIA became entrenched in cultural life through an organization named, ironically enough, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In order to fight communism, they funded socialist artists. The Awl has compiled a list of literary journals, including the Kenyon Review and The Paris Review, that were once supported by the CIA.
It looks like Jonathan Safran Foer will be publishing his first novel in eleven years next fall. The book, tentatively titled Here I Am, is the story of an American Jewish family, set against a background of traumatic events in the Middle East including earthquakes and an invasion of Israel. Foer’s last novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, enjoyed tremendous critical and commercial success. Here’s a piece on JSF’s crazy, confusing, die-cut book Tree of Codes.