Need to spice up your writing? Try one of McSweeney’s punctuation marks such as the Yellow-Winged Apostrophe, which likes “to ‘peace out’ of its obligation to indicate possession or contraction,” or the Academic Ellipsis, which “is used by those who wish to demonstrate just how much more they know about how to use ellipses than you do.”
Jonathan Franzen knows a lot about birds. The novelist competed on Jeopardy’s “Power Players Week” alongside Chuck Todd and S.E. Cupp as part of a variation on the Celebrity Jeopardy theme. Franzen flubbed a few questions about Shakespeare which, ironically, served to help dispel some of the “old curmudgeon” reputation that has followed him for years. This piece from The Millions on the case for non-Ikea writing in the Age of Franzen might interest you.
A couple weeks ago, our own Janet Potter reviewed Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a new book which examines the rise of public shaming on social media. In the Times, Ronson takes part in the paper’s By the Book series, several entries of which we’ve written about before. Among other things, he recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Violence by James Gilligan.
Last week, Emily Gould recommended Nell Zink in her Year of Reading piece, extolling Zink’s novel The Wallcreepers as a “funny, profane, [and] deeply weird book.” At The Paris Review Daily, Matthew Jakubowski interviews the author, who talks about living in Germany, reading too much Kafka and writing for Jonathan Franzen.
“It is a darker book, I don’t deny that, but that’s the story that came to me and wanted to be told.” Seventeen years after Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy ended, the writer is releasing La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Pullman also said the second volume of the trilogy of already complete, according to The Guardian. Check out our own Janet Potter on grief, books, and His Dark Materials.
“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)