The word “cool” has been cool for more than 70 years. At Slate, Carl Wilson examines why this slang stuck, and how it’s evolved from being used by beatniks to smartphone companies. “Cool is an attitude that allows detached assessment, but one that prizes an air of knowingness over specific knowledge. I think that’s why it doesn’t become dated, unlike hotter-running expressions of enthusiasm like groovy or rad.” Pair with: Michael Agger’s essay on why we love the “cool story, bro” meme.
“The way (Yeats) puts down a man’s head & a woman’s head side by side, or face to face, is terrifying, two irreducible singlenesses & the impassable immensity between.” The Paris Review has published a brief, fascinating letter written by Samuel Beckett to his aunt Cissie Sinclair containing an original poem and some positive criticism of the painter Jack B. Yeats. Top it off with this essay by Elizabeth Winkler about language, style, and translation–and how any of that might help to make sense of Beckett’s convoluted legacy.
Millions readers in New York: Please join us tonight at McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan to celebrate the release of The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. I’ll be joined by my co-editor Jeff Martin, as well as Reif Larsen and some of the book’s other contributors, including Millions staff writers Garth Risk Hallberg and Emily St. John Mandel. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
“I wasn’t exactly feeling this. Still, I did try to rationalize what I was doing: maybe being altruistic and selfish at the same time was actually a good way to live, making sure sacrifice doesn’t go too far?” A psalm for a selfish hospice volunteer from Andy Mozina over at Electric Literature.
“‘I think she is better than J. L. Borges—who is good, but not all that good!” said poet Elizabeth Bishop of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Bishop was one of Lispector’s first English translators, but also one of her fiercest critics. Alexandra Pechman writes for the Poetry Foundation about their literary rivalry and grudging respect. Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions review of Lispector’s The Complete Stories.