The Telegraph catches up with John Simpson as he prepares to retire from his role as chief editor for the Oxford English Dictionary. “I used to keep a notebook in my pocket in case I came across new words,” Simpson says at one point. “That worked until I put my trousers in the washing machine.”
The 2014 Guggenheim Fellows were announced this week, and this year’s batch of honorees (PDF) includes ten poets, seven writers of fiction, and ten writers of “general nonfiction.” Among the names on the list, Millions readers will be thrilled to see Year In Reading contributors Hari Kunzru, Julie Orringer, Meaghan O’Rourke, and Susan Orlean, as well as a number of writers who had work mentioned in other peoples’ YIR posts: Adrian Matejka, Patricia Smith, Victoria Redel, and Claire Vaye Watkins.
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it's too interior or there's not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don't know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, "Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?"
“The findings revealed that across the board, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed who worked in publishing self-identified as white. In Marketing and Publicity, 77 percent were white. These are people who make decisions on how to position books to the press and to consumers, and if and where to send authors on tour — critical considerations in the successful launching of any publication. For writers of color, the lack of diversity in book publicity departments can feel like a death knell.” On the lack of representation in book publishing and publicity campaigns.
Anjuli Raza Kolb reviews Rachel Poliquin’s The Breathless Zoo, which “tracks the history of whole animal and animal specimen preservation, particularly taxidermy, which refers to the stretching and mounting of the skins of vertebrates, from the seventeenth-century European explorers to the present, with a heavy focus on Victorian practitioners and collectors.” No word on whether or not Poliquin remarks on this curious Danish Facebook group of terrible taxidermy. (Bonus: Caitlin Horrocks’s new story on FiveChapters, “The Lion of Gripsholm – Part Four: IV. The Taxidermist.”)