“Don’t assume that the literal meaning of a sentence is the least important one. It’s the only important one.” Sage advice.
Francis Spufford’s fictionalized book Red Plenty looks to the 1950s-1960s “cybernetics” initiative to answer one of the main questions about the USSR: “Could the Soviet project to build communism have succeeded, or was it doomed to failure from the start?” In his review for The Hoover Institution, Marshall Poe contends the latter.
A group of researchers from the University of Cambridge is using Twitter to help research the rapidly disappearing Welsh language “[because] tweets don’t follow the conventions of written language” and instead “provide an authentic snapshot of spoken language.” (Bonus: Twitter’s stunning visualizations of “tweet geography.”)
New this week: The Secret Place by Tana French; 10:04 by Ben Lerner; Barbarian Days by William Finnegan; Wittgenstein, Jr. by Lars Iyer; The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim; and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Spotted on the streets of New York: a casting call for a “10-13 year old Caucasian male” to play protagonist Oskar Schell in Stephen Daldry‘s upcoming film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Notable Goyim Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are attached to the project, as Oskar’s parents.
Today in things you might like to read about animals: Some birds, apparently, not only mourn their dead but even hold funeral services. And while it’s widely known that the internet is made of cats, Wired dug a little deeper and tried to uncover the root of our collective feline fixation.