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.
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
Sharpen your pencils freelance book reviewers: The Wall Street Journal plans to buck the trend of disappearing book review sections by launching a weekly pull-out. Robert Messenger will edit. The New York Observer takes note of the storylines in play: Rupert Murdoch once again bucking conventional wisdom, The WSJ trying to go head to head with The New York Times in yet another high-profile venue.
Out this week: Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin; Abandon Me by Melissa Febos; Lower Ed by Tressie McMillan Cottom; Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; No Other World by Rahul Mehta; Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan; and To Be a Machine by our own Mark O’Connell (who we interviewed recently). For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In conjunction with the new documentary film “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” (reviewed by our own Bill Morris last week), New York’s Third Streaming Gallery will be hosting a conversation on the role of art and artists in contemporary cultural activism. The discussion will be held tonight at 7pm, and it will include Rico Gaston, Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen, Donna Murch, and Minkah Makalani.
Sarah Howe’s debut poetry collection, Loop of Jade, has been awarded the T. S. Eliot prize. “Howe’s work – the first debut poetry collection to win the British prize since it was inaugurated in 1993 – triumphed over a particularly strong shortlist, which featured some of poetry’s biggest names, including Don Paterson, Claudia Rankine, Sean O’Brien and Les Murray.” If poetry isn’t for you, try our own Nick Ripatrazone’s ten poems for people who hate poetry.