Regardless of your Valentine’s Day plans, do not take advice from Nate Piven, the protagonist of Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Ron Charles asked Waldman to write another scene of Nate’s romantic saga. “He decided it would be best to hedge his bets by getting her something ‘ironic.'”
New this week are Mark Haddon's The Red House, Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins, John Lanchester's Capital, and a collection of essays from Colm Tóibín, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families. Michael Ondaatje's The Cat's Table is now out in paperback.
David J. Peterson is the man responsible for creating the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Peterson, who took Martin’s 55 Dothraki names and created a 4,000 word vocabulary, is interviewed over at Flavorwire. If the Dothraki don't have a word for it, the Germans probably do. Here’s an essay from The Millions on just that.
For everyone who likes typography and arguments, New York Magazine has a story up that covers the type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones and follows the pair through their success to their ultimate rift. For those who prefer debates with more immediate impact, Mental Floss has a breakdown of the best shots fired in the fight over the Oxford Comma.
Paul Muldoon raised this season's commencement bar with his address to Bennington College's Writing Seminar graduates. At The Russian Samovar a few months ago, before reading from Maggot, he explained the phrase "cock a snook."
The Virginia Quarterly Review's Fall 2011 issue, "The Soviet Ghost", is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou's heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov's essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol' fashioned KGB crime story.