It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.
“I love you, in its formal semantic meaning, is at once fetishized and sacrosanct; our familiarity with it as a speech-act is equally uneasy. Type ‘using I love you’ into Google and the first autocomplete result is ‘too much’; the second is ‘as a weapon.’” Google’s recently unveiled Smart Reply feature is saying “I love you” too much. Or is it just the right amount?
"Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world." At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz's interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.
“First, humans domesticated the horse. Then, we invented analgesia for the horses while we got rid of God—eliminating pain while also eliminating pain’s previously greatest meaning. This made a lonely universe. We partially solved loneliness by inventing smartphones, but this also created our now endless distraction—which, fortunately, can be treated with Vyvanse.” Sasha Chapin for Hazlitt on his friend Rachel, who is living with a terminal illness.
"[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically." Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children's books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert's question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
Last year, I pointed readers to Numero Cinq, a new Canadian lit mag with a notably memorable tagline. In the latest issue, which is split into seventeen parts, Benjamin Woodard talks with Lydia Davis about her Flaubert translation, her new story collection and the art of writing while traveling. (h/t The Rumpus)