It’s fitting in a weird sort of way that this article, which illustrates the unravelling of Truman Capote’s career, has quotes from two characters named Slim Keith and Babe Paley. Back in 1988, Gerald Clarke covered the story from a slightly different angle.
I’ve written before about By Heart, a series at The Atlantic in which authors write short pieces about their favorite passages in literature. This week, our own Edan Lepucki — whose new novel you may have heard about thanks to Stephen Colbert — writes about the metaphors in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. (FYI, Margaret Atwood wrote a Year in Reading entry for The Millions.)
“For example, I don’t feel that catharsis in a play necessarily takes place during the course of a play. Often it should take place afterward.” The Paris Review offers a manuscript page from playwright Edward Albee, who died this past weekend. See also: this amazing piece of lore behind the titling of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
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.
You’ve probably heard it before: never end a story with the phrase “it was all a dream.” Unfortunately for the person who taught you this rule, many classic stories (including Anna Karenina) take place at least partially in dreams. In the NYRB, Francine Prose investigates the trope in fiction.
Could this be the start of a trend? HarperCollins paid the singer Billy Joel $3 million for a memoir back in 2008. Joel wrote The Book of Joel, the publisher edited it, and a June publication date was set. Last week, however, Joel abruptly backed out of the deal and apparently will return the portion of the advance he’s been paid. His reason? He told the Associated Press he “was not all that interested in talking about the past.”