At a party thrown by Tom Stoppard in 1972, Kingsley Amis bumped into Roald Dahl, and was encouraged by the Matilda author to write a children’s book in order to make a quick buck. “The little bastards’d swallow it,” Dahl said.
On the persistent popularity and flexibility of Cinderella, from old folktales featuring talking gourds all the way to the upcoming Disney version, from NPR.
The longest word in the English language is not antidisestablishmentarianism. Nor is it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It is, in fact, the chemical name of titin, the largest known protein. And now you can listen to all 189,819 letters of it being pronounced. Bonus points if you work it into your next conversation.
Can’t get enough of Orange is the New Black? Neither could The Missouri Review. Their new blog series, Literature on Lockdown, shares narratives from those who teach or write in prisons. This week’s post comes from Ace Boggess, a poet who spent five years in a West Virginia prison. “One thing about being a writer in prison is that you have not lost everything. You still have that driving need to speak whatever truth you know in whatever way you can. No one can take that away from you, not even the State.”
We’ve heard a lot about “Cool Pope” Francis in the past few weeks. For a take on the Vatican that’s a bit different from the usual fare, check out this piece from the London Review of Books on the pontiff’s battle against corruption among the cardinals in Rome.
Twitter lets writers think in public, and it’s changing the way we write, Thomas Beller argues in The New Yorker. “Does articulating a thought in public freeze it in place somehow, making it not part of a thought process but rather a tiny little finished sculpture? Is tweeting the same as publishing?”
Out this week: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay; Autumn by Ali Smith; A Separation by Katie Kitamura; 300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso; The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso; Pachinko by Min Jin Lee; and Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.