Whatever your thoughts about the situation in Ukraine, you’ll feel for Year in Reading alum David Bezmozgis, who’s been writing a novel for the past four years that takes place in Crimea. After nearly a half-decade in which few people he talked to even knew where Crimea was, recent events shone a spotlight on the place, which the author had thought of as “locked in a dismal kleptocratic stasis.” (You could also read our interview with the author.)
“Apple’s example sentence for ‘shrill’ referenced ‘women’s voices,’ and the one for the word ‘psyche’ read, ‘I will never really fathom the female psyche.’ […] The pronouns in entries for ‘doctor’ and ‘research’ were male, while a ‘she’ could be found doing ‘housework.’” The New Oxford American Dictionary needs its own guidelines for nonsexist usage.
Wes Anderson really likes trains, and not just any trains — the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is a big fan of riding on Amtrak. “It’s one thing to be stuck together for the long haul to New Zealand in the upper deck of a 747 for 16 hours,” he told a writer for the company’ s blog, “but it’s an altogether different matter to hit the dining car three meals a day for two and a half days running onboard the Southwest Chief.” This may be a good time to read our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on writers and trains.
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?