Short on insult fodder? In that case you’ll want to read Colin Burrow’s review of Melissa Mohr’s Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing. It includes such notables as: “slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubbardly lowts … slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, [and] codshead loobies.” In the end, “swearing is one of the most basic human acts,” he writes.
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the ‘first’ authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. “But when [“The Joy Luck Club”] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said ‘At last!’ and there were people who said ‘How dare she?’ […] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family.”
“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves.” The remarkable love letters of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger are both touching and predictably philosophical. Here’s a jarring, surreal reimagining of three works of Arendt’s over at 3:AM Magazine.
Among the better Tumblr memes is Read to Me Tuesday, which is exactly what it sounds like: people choose a passage from a book, call in and read the passage over the phone. The resulting posts are compiled under the hashtag #RTMT and often re-blogged by rtmt.tumblr.com. As we see increased interest in social reading experiments like bookglutton.com, RTMT shows how the web might make social connection through reading aloud a possibility for the first time since, well, story time. Plus it’s really, really fun.
Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper’s book.