In his upcoming book Borrowed Words, Philip Durkin looked at the languages that have shaped English over the centuries, charting the influence of Spanish, Italian, French and more. At Slate, he sums up his most important data with the help of an interactive tool.
Joshua Cohen, author of the recently published Book of Numbers, will begin writing a serialized, twentieth-century version of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers live and online next week. Beginning October 12 at 1pm, viewers can watch Cohen spend five days reimagining the book and will be able to offer criticism that may affect the ending.
Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.
Recommended viewing: The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik talks about his early years in New York writing for the magazine "though they simply weren't aware of it, or when they were aware of it they were extremely unenthusiastic," and about all the odd jobs that often make up a writer's early career, something our own Emily St. James Mandel has written about before.
In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I've previously linked to Malcolm Harris' excellent n+1 piece on the "higher education bubble," but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
New this week: Gary Shteyngart's much buzzed about Super Sad True Love Story, Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death (another literary dystopia), and a new Roberto Bolaño collection, The Return. Bonus for GN'R fans: GN'R drummer Steven Adler's tell-all memoir My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses.