Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are reading fewer books than they were back in 2014. A whopping twenty-eight percent of those surveyed reported not having finished even a single book in the past year, though the average number of books read per person last year remained at fourteen. For a little more in moderation lit, here’s an essay from The Millions on reading fewer books.
Our own Edan Lepucki (who has a novel coming out soon, by the way…) interviewed four of the finalists for this year’s National Book Awards: Tenth of December author George Saunders, The Lowland author Jhumpa Lahiri, The Good Lord Bird author James McBride, and The Flamethrowers author Rachel Kushner. We reviewed both Saunders and Kushner’s works here and here, respectively, and you can also take a look at the rest of the NBA finalists over here.
"The wish to be a writer, and the will to be one, solve nothing about how you will live, and don’t even solve anything about how you will write. You have given yourself the vaguest designation." Kristy Eldredge writes for The Rumpus about drawing inspiration from the unconventional career choices of Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer, including the New York Times column he almost never wrote. Pair her essay with our own Janet Potter's review of Dyer's latest full-length work, Another Great Day at Sea.
Shirley Clarke, older sister of Elaine Dundy (who wrote Millions favorite The Dud Avocado), was an Academy Award-winning filmmaker. If you're curious about her work, you'll be happy to learn that Milestone Films will soon begin their Shirley Clarke Project by releasing her restored documentaries, and on Friday, May 4th, they'll be releasing her first film, The Connection. You can check out a trailer here. (via)