Ultra-bestselling author Danielle Steel went off recently about something that’s been bothering her for ages. “I think some people are threatened if one is enterprising or has many/varied interests,” she writes. In particular, “it’s about men who don’t like women getting out there, doing something new or innovative and accomplishing something.”
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
“I feel very transparent to myself. I’m more like an observer. I’m interested in what’s going on. I’m not sure that I really have a personality,” Joyce Carol Oates said in The New Yorker’s micro documentary about her writing life and routine. Pair with: our essay on Oates’ The Accursed.
“Writing an autobiography was therapeutic and traumatic at times, but unlike the novel it continues its therapies and trauma long after I’ve written it.” Laura van den Berg interviews Porochista Khakpour about the differences between novels and memoirs, structure, and Khakpour’s upcoming memoir, Sick. (Sick is one of our most anticipated June releases).
A newly released Roald Dahl collection, The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, includes a secret ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and excerpts from the author’s hilariously bad report cards. Wrote one teacher about Dahl in 1931: “A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.” (via Galley Cat)
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.”