Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
The Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme – the division of the French government responsible for preserving the integrity of the Gallic language – ruled last week that enough is enough when it comes to “hashtag.” They feel the word is just too English for the banks of the Seine. They recommend instead using the decidedly softer “mot-dièse” (pro: ‘Mo-Dee-YEZ’). Previously the group asked residents to replace “email” with “courriel.”
Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature’s Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. “I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world,” she said. The winners are Andrew Winer’s review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe’s review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green’s Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
Looking for more thoughts on My Life in Middlemarch to supplement today’s interview? At Salon, Laura Miller reviews Rebecca Mead’s book, which she calls a “moving demonstration” of Middlemarch’s power. (You could also read Adelle Waldman’s Year in Reading piece about the novel.)