Kory Stamper, one of the lexicographers responsible for Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, describes the pleasures and poetry to be found in the Third Edition’s “color definitions.” Take vermillion for example, which is listed as “a variable color averaging a vivid reddish orange that is redder, darker, and slightly stronger than chrome orange, redder and darker than golden poppy, and redder and lighter than international orange.” (Related: how colors got their names; who names colors what.)
It’s a common saying among actors that the script does most of the work. Which raises an interesting question: is it possible for a great writer to make art out of a bad story? At The Kenyon Review’s blog, Amit Majmudar says it is, using Shakespeare as proof. Related: five experts on the Bard’s greatest plays.
“To some degree, as I move outside of the exclusive genre audience, the exclusive genre issues don’t bother me as much.” The Atlantic talks with N.K. Jemisin, the first black writer to win speculative fiction’s Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season. We wrote about Jemisin’s work when she was nominated for the Hugos a few years back.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
“Much of the time, though, readers will be thinking that the ‘literary correspondence’ is something we’re well shot of – a postwar embarrassment, like child labour, meat rationing and outdoor toilets.” Martin Amis reviews the recent collection of Philip Larkin’s love letters, Letters to Monica, at Guardian.
“I don’t divide my friendships into continental categories. I don’t think: Today I’ll have lunch with my European friend, and tomorrow I will invite my Asian friend to the park. It would be silly of me to think of the authors I read in those terms. End of topic.” The (still relatively) new Literary Hub interviews Valeria Luiselli about the literary tradition, authors’s names, magical realism and her new novel, The Story of My Teeth.