Can you tell the difference between complaints by Jonathan Franzen and YouTube comments about the evils of saggy pants?
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
FSG just launched their new online literary periodical, Work in Progress. Check out their debut issue, where you’ll find Jeffrey Eugenides chatting about his latest book with Jonathan Galassi, fiction by Lydia Davis, summer book giveaways and photos from the FSG archives. Look for the clip from an FSG letter introducing Susan Sontag’s first book in 1963: “It is difficult, as you know, to create interest in new writers.”
Writing for Full Stop, Robert Fay asks, “If Mr. [T.S.] Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?” Previously, two of our staff writers have explored similar aspects of the same question. In 2009, Emily St. John Mandel wrote of the “constant struggle” that arises from “striking a balance between writing literary fiction and paying the rent.” And last year, Edan Lepucki looked at the perils of including “non-writing jobs” in one’s author bio.
In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.
Pretty good deal on Amazon today: All the e-book versions of the “Best American” books are $1.99.