Last week, I wrote about the new Philip Marlowe novel by Benjamin Black, aka Year in Reading alum John Banville. Over the weekend, Banville published an essay in The Guardian about writing the iconic character, whom he describes as “one of the immortals.”
You'll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.
As the various Occupy protests endure another week, Todd Gitlin's excellent piece in the LA Review of Books is an eloquent exploration of what the movement means. Across the country, Brooklyn-based n+1's ambitious gazette, Occupy!, is available for free download (PDF).
Not only does China employ some two million censors to monitor microblogs and the internet, but the nation also has a formidable staff – both official and unofficial – to monitor literature and print publications. Indeed, reports Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times, “It is the editors at Chinese publishing houses themselves who often turn out to have the heaviest hands. ‘Self-censorship has become the most effective weapon,’ said the editor in chief of a prominent publishing house in Beijing … ‘If you let something slip through that catches the attention of a higher-up, it can be a career killer.’”
Members of the Word Reference forum contemplate the etymology and meaning of the “A” in the expression, “Fuckin’ A.” Elsewhere Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist and author of Assholism: The First Sixty Years, shares his take on the ubiquitous “a-word,” which he believes originated during World War II.