“I move in a desultory society and often a week or two will roll by without my going to anybody’s house to dinner or anyone’s coming to mine, but when an occasion does arise, and I am summoned, something usually turns up (an hour or two in advance) to make all human intercourse seem vastly inappropriate.” In the new issue of The Atlantic Weekly (not to be confused with the Monthly), a reprint of a classic E.B. White essay.
“Lillian haunted me when she was alive. And she has haunted me since her death in July 2015. And she has haunted me in spectacular ways since I published my memoir a month ago.” Sherman Alexie has cancelled the rest of a book tour to promote his new memoir about his relationship with his mother, reports The Guardian. See also: our interview with Ellen Forney, who illustrated Alexie’s National Book Award-winning YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
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.
The international popularity and utility of English doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but what will the language look like after a few generations of increasing usage? The Economist gives a brief answer, but it doesn’t address the ways English is or will be used by different people to tell their stories. Damian Fowler addresses this when he asks, “[W]hat does it mean to have an American point of view,” or to call a book American in tone, as opposed to British or just English-language? In a blog post for The Paris Review, Fowler offers an answer: American novels are characterized by “a spare, sure sense of narrative, reflected in a colloquial voice, free of affectation.”
This week, the Ransom Center at UT-Austin opened up its archives of the works of J.M. Coetzee. Because the Nobel Prize winner is an alumnus, he says it’s “a privilege to have graduated from being a teaching assistant at The University of Texas to being one of the authors whose papers are conserved here.” (Fun fact: his starting salary was $2,300 a year.)