A startling conclusion from this data visualization of where in words each letter of the alphabet tends to fall: “the most common word may be ‘the, but the most representative word is ‘toe.’ ” (Also available: detailed methodology and algorithms for the data geeks; an explanation of data-viz as a narrative form for everyone else.)
"Not infrequently I unravelled what I had done, continuously tormented by scruples that were taking tighter hold and steadily paralysing me. These scruples concerned not only the subject of my narrative, which I felt I could not do justice to, no matter what approach I tried, but also the entire questionable business of writing." On W.G Sebald and unsatisfactory communication from The Nation.
A big week for new fiction. Ian McEwan's latest novel Solar is out. Kakutani just called it his "funniest novel yet." Also now apparently available (despite its late April pub date) is the latest in the long line posthumously published works by Roberto Bolaño, Antwerp, a slim volume that has been described as both a prose poem and a crime novel. Deborah Eisenberg's big new volume of collected stories is also out today, as is Rachel Cusk's The Bradshaw Variations. Hilary Mantel is a fan of the latter. And finally, The Lotus Eaters, a debut novel from sometime Millions contributor Tatjana Soli.
Amidst increasing calls to “memorialize slavery’s ties with Glasgow in a more sensitive way,” Scottish poet Kate Tough recently published a tribute poem, “People Made Glasgow.” Tough calls on the city to install a permanent slavery exhibit, a memorial garden, or new street names as well.
"We always try to create the worst opinion of everything there is in the United States, as a response to what they have always done with us. The only difference is that we do not write falsehoods about the United States. I told you that we emphasize the worst things, that we omit things that could be viewed as positive, but we do not invent any lies." This excerpted interview with Fidel Castro over at The Paris Review is enlightening for its candor and frankness.
I’ve noted before how William Carlos Williams’s famous poem, “This Is Just to Say,” has become an internet meme, but I haven’t noted the ongoing and delightfully random “Just to Say” Twitter bot. And also, I haven’t before linked to Tammy Ho Lai-Ming’s riff on Williams’s rhythms.