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.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)
In the annals of Southern literature, Elizabeth Spencer isn’t as well-known as Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor, but she is, Wilton Barnhardt writes, “one of America’s best short-story writers.” The 92-year-old author’s new collection marks “65 years and counting of superb writing,” he argues.
It’s that time of year again – our good friends at The Morning News are back with their annual epic, the Tournament of Books! Head over to TMN now to read round 1, which pits award season favorite Lincoln in the Bardo against Samantha Schweblin‘s Fever Dream (and read our own review of George Saunders‘s much-lauded novel here).