Emoticons are unbelievably passé, right? And GIFs are just too much work, right? It’s time to better utilize our technological advancements. Behold The Sound-Word Index, a project by Blanche de Lasa, Stina Gromark, and James Godwin that can use “sound, volume and rhythm” to “help to translate our emotions hidden behind our screens.”
New this week: Gary Shteyngart’s much buzzed about Super Sad True Love Story, Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death (another literary dystopia), and a new Roberto Bolaño collection, The Return. Bonus for GN’R fans: GN’R drummer Steven Adler’s tell-all memoir My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N’ Roses.
The “grande dame of the Beat Generation” has died at age 90. Carolyn Cassady passed away last Friday near her home in England. She was the inspiration for Camille, Dean Moriarty’s overburdened second wife in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Yet Cassady was a writer in her own right and published two books, Off the Road and Heart Beat: My Life With Jack and Neal, about how the Beat Generation was misunderstood.
Azar Nafisi thinks the best way to pin down a culture is to take a look at its canonical works of literature. In The Republic of Imagination, as Adam Begley details in a review in the Times Literary Supplement, she examines a few of America’s classic novels, including Babbitt, Huck Finn and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark’s review of the book for The Millions.
In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.