Why do articles go viral? At The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova traces what makes a popular story all the way back to Aristotle, but today’s clickbait has two features: a positive message or an ability to excite the reader emotionally. This probably explains why we love those articles about puppies. Pair with: Our piece on if book titles were written for clicks.
As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
“Look, if you meet someone with one leg, are you going to sit and revile them for not having the other leg? No, you’re going to be happy that they have the one and praise them for it. And get them thinking about how can we substitute for the one that’s lacking. Which are you going to do?” Robert Thurman quoting the Dalai Lama on embracing the positive in an interview in Guernica, where Thurman speaks about nonviolent resistance, the potential for a demilitarized world, and his friendship with the Dalai Lama.
New Herring Press is a Brooklyn/Portland publisher of prose chapbooks, and they’re likely the best new chapbook press you haven’t heard of yet. Volume II of their annual series features titles by Eileen Myles, Justin Torres, Amanda Davidson, and Sara Veglahn, with cover art by illustrator Jacob Magraw-Mickelson. NHP’s ultra-short backlist includes notable authors like Lynne Tillman and Deb Olin Unferth. Volume III is in the works, with authors and artist TBA soon. Check them out at newherringpress.tumblr.com.