Can’t get enough of Orange is the New Black? Neither could The Missouri Review. Their new blog series, Literature on Lockdown, shares narratives from those who teach or write in prisons. This week’s post comes from Ace Boggess, a poet who spent five years in a West Virginia prison. “One thing about being a writer in prison is that you have not lost everything. You still have that driving need to speak whatever truth you know in whatever way you can. No one can take that away from you, not even the State.”
“I thought it was going to be a short novel, that it was one person’s story. But I was wrong, because history is always shaping everything.” The New York Times reviews Marlon James‘s latest novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which we covered in our “Great Second-Half 2014 Book Preview.”
A few weeks ago, I let you know about The Guardian’s new series spotlighting the best 100 nonfiction books of all time. Today, we have a curious addition to the list: Ted Hughes’ 1997 collection Birthday Letters. Here’s a bonus Millions review of Jonathan Bates’ controversial new biography of Hughes, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.