The finalists are set and the judges have been selected, so that means that The Morning News’s Tournament of Books is officially underway. As a special bonus to Millions readers, one of this year’s deciders is our own Lydia Kiesling. Also? One of the books that made the final cut is none other than the one I told you to read a month ago.
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.
The New York Times profiles our best tool in combating asinine email forwards: snopes.com. Use it liberally against all who forward you nonsense masquerading as “news.”
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.
“I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot.” Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers’ Recommends series.
Sam Sacks offers up a review of Booker winner The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for Open Letters“Obama spotted carrying poetry book” – It was Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek WalcottThe amazing, exhaustive, 7-part, behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 campaign from NewsweekRahm, Ari, Zeke: Which Emmanuel brother are you?In case you weren’t already tired of this… the n+1 vs. the lit-blogs row of early 2007 lands in an academic journal. Our own contribution to the saga is duly noted.Wyatt Mason offers more thoughts on John Leonard (via Conversational Reading)Malcolm Gladwell’s latest, The Outliers, hits stores a week from today. Gladwell introduces the book in a video at Amazon (scroll down a bit).Oxford researchers figure out the ten most annoying phrases.And the New Oxford American Dictionary has named its Word of the Year: hypermiling.As we remember Michael Crichton, “The Top 5 ‘Crazy’ Michael Crichton Ideas That Actually Came True“Nam Le wins the Dylan Thomas Prize. We interviewed him in August.