Whitney Houston, Adele, Kanye West, Prince, and Justin Bieber all share something in common when it comes to the songs they sing. Each one of them rhymes “do” and “you” more often than any other pair of words. In fact, according to Ben Blatt, that duo is the most commonly rhymed pair in the history of pop music.
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
Translating is notoriously difficult work, and translating Proust even more so. The Boston Review has published a very thoughtful piece about the history of In Search of Lost Time in English, the trouble with annotations, and the general “tension in translation between the spirit and the letter.” We highly recommend you take the time to read it, even if you don’t have time for Proust just yet.
We’ve recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. “And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs.”
Amazon has unveiled its “Kindle Singles” store. Says Amazon: “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length.” In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif “updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster.” Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.