At Salon, Kyle Minor listens to an audiobook recording of Joan Didion’s Salvador and finds that it remains “immediately relevant to a new reader whose memory of its context is more the kind of memory that arises from having read books about history than one that arises from having been old enough in 1983 to understand the meaning of phrases such as death squad, or body count, or mechanism of terror.”
The Exile, home of the War Nerd, is back online at a new address after being forced to fold their print operation.Lots of folks were excited about Mark Twain being on the cover of Time. So was Season, until she opened the magazine.Will Leitch’s story of meeting Hunter S. Thompson is brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking.The New Anonymous is a literary magazine with a clever concept. According to EarthGoat, “No name on your submission, the readers never see names, the editors are anonymous.” Will anyone submit their work? Who is behind this mysterious mag?Summer book lists, compiled.Ever wonder where the word “ok” comes from? “The abbreviation fad began in Boston in the summer of 1838 … OFM, ‘our first men,’ and used expressions like NG, ‘no go,’ GT, ‘gone to Texas,’ and SP, ‘small potatoes.’ Many of the abbreviated expressions were exaggerated misspellings, a stock in trade of the humorists of the day. One predecessor of OK was OW, ‘oll wright,’ and there was also KY, ‘know yuse,’ KG, ‘know go,’ and NS, ’nuff said.’ The general fad may have existed in spoken or informal written American English for a decade or more before its appearance in newspapers. OK’s original presentation as ‘all correct’ was later varied with spellings such as ‘Oll Korrect’ or even ‘Ole Kurreck’. Deliberate word play was associated with the acronym fad and was a yet broader contemporary American fad.”
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
The Telegraph catches up with John Simpson as he prepares to retire from his role as chief editor for the Oxford English Dictionary. “I used to keep a notebook in my pocket in case I came across new words,” Simpson says at one point. “That worked until I put my trousers in the washing machine.”
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.