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.
You may have heard that J.K. Rowling published a crime novel last year under the pen name Robert Galbraith. According to her alter ego’s website, Rowling will publish another novel as Galbraith, one featuring (again) the private investigator Cormoran Strike. (If you missed it, you should definitely read Elizabeth Minkel’s recent piece on Ron/Hermione and authorial regrets.)
Jack Ryan really exists and even teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy. Vulture’s Dan Solomon met the real Jack Ryan and discussed what it’s like to have the same name as Tom Clancy’s hero. No, he has never used the connection as a pick-up line. Pair with: Our in memoriam of Clancy.
There’s an oxymoron for you: “Rich Poet.” But the new fortunes of Emirati poet Saif Al Mansouri prove that with talent, grit, and a live television audience, truly anything is possible. The UAE show “Millionaire’s Poet,” in its sixth season, awarded $1.3 million (the Nobel Prize. for comparison, is $1.2 million) to winner Al Mansouri, and perhaps something even more valuable – a global audience of up to 70 million, actually tuning in.
A group of Austrian artists aims to “reconfigure and recontextualize” a memorial to Austrian poet Josef Weinheber, who engaged in Nazi activities and wrote numerous pro-Hitler propaganda pieces. Michael Kaminer caught up with Eduard Freudmann, the leader of the Vienna-based push for recontextualization, who hopes to spark a debate “about how to proceed with the … artistic reconfiguration of a Nazi monument.”
“Every story that works gets the level of description that it needs. Which isn’t to say that the level of description needed for every successful story is the same.” Tobias Carroll surveys the wide variety of detail density in fiction for Electric Literature.