Last week, I followed up the news that “because” may now be used as a preposition by noting that the American Dialect Society had named it their Word of the Year. Now, in The New Republic, John McWhorter argues that the new preposition is used to signal empathy and warmth. (Related: Fiona Maazel on the dangers of bad grammar.)
Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition -- as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex -- in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was "more than one person.”
“Many of the most powerful characters in our best-loved stories are orphaned, adopted, fostered, or found. At the same time, many of the most powerless citizens in our society are orphaned, adopted, or fostered children, and the marginalized adults that so many become. Why have so few of us even noticed this centuries-old disparity?” On literature’s most celebrated protagonists, from Oliver Twist to Anne of Green Gables.
Remember that preview for Death to Smoochy, where the voice-over proclaimed, "From the twisted mind of Danny DeVito?" Me neither. But if twisty minds are your thing, you should check out this page from Gay Talese's outline for the classic "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," written on a shirt cardboard. (Remember shirt cardboards? Yeah... Me neither.)
There’s an old story that states that Marcel Proust met James Joyce for five unremarkable minutes at a dinner party. Artistically significant though it may have been, it had less geopolitical significance than another famous meeting a hundred years earlier, in which Napoleon went out of his way to pay a visit to Goethe. As a new biography of the French emperor details, Napoleon couldn’t understand why Goethe admired Shakespeare.
"I gave up on making a happy ending in the true sense a long time ago." Japanese animator and film director Hayao Miyazaki is something of a legend. Over at The Literary Hub, Gabrielle Bellot takes a look at the expansive literary history of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli.
Cole Stryker's Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web looks into one of the internet's most infamous image boards. Housing Works Bookstore will be hosting a party in September to celebrate its launch. To tide you over, you can check out the author's interview at Betabeat.
Patrick Reardon looks at 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for the Chicago Tribune, and decides he wants to add his own favorites. Check out his eclectic list at the end of the piece. (thanks Steve)Maud mentioned off-hand that she abandons 95% of the books she starts before page 50. Sandra posted that this was "quite a failure rate," and Maud responds in the comments that in this case she was "pining for a very specific kind of manic reading experience that happens for me maybe ten times a year now rather than every few days, as it did when I was a child."Dogbert writes a book: "It's part fake autobiography and part plagiarism" (via H2O)Pinky is about to start an MFA program at Pitt. The reading list looks excellent.Harper Lee will have an item in O of all places. According to the AP story, "a letter for Oprah Winfrey's magazine on how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town." It's for the July "special summer reading issue."