In the latest Baffler, Evgeny Morozov argues that Silicon Valley, in typical fashion, has taken to “hacking” our language. Old, trusted words don’t mean what they used to mean, and complex ideas have been stripped of subversive implications. “Complexity,” he writes, “is not particularly viral.”
Has Edward St. Aubyn killed the existentialist novel? Jacob Kiernan at Full Stop Magazine has a few ideas about it. If it’s existential quandary you’re after, this essay for The Millions on the beautiful afterlife of books–which may not be so much of an afterlife, after all–will be perfect for you.
"Megan Gething jumped in to action and tied a pair of shorts around her friend’s leg to slow blood loss, using a tip she learned from the young adult science fiction novels." A 12-year-old Massachusetts girl used what she read about creating a tourniquet from The Hunger Games to rescue her friend, reports the AP (via Book Riot). Guess the best YA books really do stick with you.
It's turning into Speedboat Week here, so why not spend the weekend with some of Renata Adler's most renowned nonfiction? Her controversial reassessment of Pauline Kael (featuring "A Limitless Capacity to Inquire," one of the best found poems you'll ever read) is at the NYRB, and her deep dive into l'affaire Lewinski can be found at the L.A. Times. Interestingly, as Sarah Weinman points out, Adler's 2001 book about the Bilderberg Conferences still hasn't seen the light of day. ("Who suppresses manuscripts? We do!")
Here’s a simple poll idea we’re amazed we hadn’t thought of before: asking famous writers to pick their favorite words. In The Guardian, Hilary Mantel, Tessa Hadley and others (including Year in Reading alum Eimear McBride) choose their picks for an exceedingly odd vocabulary list.
“In re-organizing the priorities of book publishing—by inventing new models rather than trying to repeat past success, by valuing ingenuity over magnitude, by thinking of sales as a way to make great books possible rather than the point—indie presses aren’t just becoming the places where the best books are published; they’re already there.” Over at The Atlantic, Nathan Scott McNamara writes on why American publishing needs indie presses. For more of his writing, check out his essay on Denis Johnson for The Millions.