Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.
"It is now, at this precise moment when I become woefully aware of the cruel transience of this seasonal offering, rarely lingering beyond the Marigold blooms of latter March, and at once I am lost amidst a magnificent vision, one in which our hallowed Saint Patrick himself is riding shotgun alongside me in this very Camry." In which James Joyce orders a shamrock milkshake.
Haven’t read Agatha Christie? The Oyster Review will get you up to speed. Their latest Reader’s Guide, written by Lili Loofbourow, delves into the writer behind Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and countless other iconic characters. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the ending to every mystery novel.
Patti Smith’s M Train was released this Tuesday. Geoffrey O’Brien reviews her memoir at The New York Review of Books: “Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication.” Need more music? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.
As titles go, it’s hard to get more straightforward than England and Other Stories, the new collection by Graham Swift. In the Times, Michiko Kakutani provides her verdict, lauding Swift for his ability to paint “vistas as panoramic as those in the stories of Alice Munro.”
Ahead of next week's publication of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the battle over Stieg Larsson's lucrative literary estate. (Thanks, Craig)