If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
On George Kimball and “the two-fisted, one-eyed misadventures of sportswriting’s last badass.”
Newsweek Senior Writer (and Millions contributor) Alexander Nazaryan has a new interview with William T. Vollmann up on Newsweek’s website. To start things off right, he reports that if Vollman were to win the Nobel Prize, he’d enjoy giving a decent chunk of the prize money to prostitutes.
Out this week: The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt; The Epiphany Machine by David Burr Gerrard; Like A Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina; Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne; The Dog’s Last Walk by Howard Jacobson; and Less by Andrew Sean Greer. For more on these and other new titles, go read our just-published book preview.