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.)
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. “Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on whether or not to blurb.
E.V. de Cleyre writes for Ploughshares about sentimentality. As she puts it, “It is not enough to have a feeling and express it—we must exercise discernment, ask what these feelings we’re feeling are, dissect them, and find the language that matches how they look, feel, smell, and taste.” Pair with this Millions essay on literary sentiment.