Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
At the Guardian, Brian Dillon writes about great creative minds who had fertile imaginations for the maladies that befell them.
“The things I do not want to write about become the things I write about.” Year in Reading alumnus Eimear McBride talks to The Guardian on the occasion of her second novel’s arrival. The Lesser Bohemians follows upon her hugely successful debut, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which we reviewed back when it came out in the U.S.
Was Virginia Woolf right that the Brontës were too isolated? Or were they just as housebound as their art required them to be? In the latest Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz examines the lives of the family, teasing out evidence that they all used loneliness to their benefit.
Appearing Elsewhere: VQR Young Reviewers Contest winner and Millions contributor Emily drops by the NBCC blog to tell them what she’s been reading.The NY Times fleshes out some of the details of Google’s digitizing agreement with publishers and authors, including getting into some of the numbers involved. We explained the importance of the deal last year.At Jacket Copy Carolyn Kellogg gets Sarah Weinman to discuss the secrets behind her incredible speed-reading ability. (462 books in 2008!)Carolyn also recently highlighted all the great literary magazines that supplied the featured stories in last year’s “best of” fiction anthologies, as well as the runners up.80 years after the last one, a new Winnie the Pooh book is on its way.A timely and topical list: the Top 10 green books of 2008For the multi-tasker (or perhaps the really lazy): the book holder bracelet.”Had I an atheist friend who asked, ‘Can you tell me please what this religion business is all about, not as some metaphysical hypothesis or historical phenomenon, but what it really means to be religious?’ I might hand him or her a copy of Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead. ‘Read this,’ I’d say, ‘and it will give you a pretty good idea.'”For sports fans: Bill James on why statisticians should boycott the BCS.That perilous question: why blog?Vice did a fiction issue.David Brooks discusses some of the best long-form journalism of 2008 (with links!)The outgoing president’s surprising reading list.The Hype Machine’s impressive top albums of 2008 project.Wikipedia find of the week: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffaloA consideration of poet Jack Spicer.With apologies to William Carlos Williams, A poem for Blago.New short fiction from Horacio Castellanos Moya, author of Senselessness (via Scott)Jonathan Franzen on the Social Novel (via OUP blog)
“I find it amusing that people think trying to read a book in a language you do not understand is the most boring activity in the world. If you are interested in how literature works, these things are interesting.” On Lydia Davis‘s interest in learning to read Norwegian literature and writing at the end of the world, from the newly-launched Lit Hub.
At McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a disgruntled Laura Jayne Martin rants about why she is tired of sharing an apartment with poet William Carlos Williams.
Book Riot reports that Planned Parenthood “staged a protest of the GOP’s healthcare (or lack thereof) bill” with red-robed Handmaids. Pair with Tara Wanda Merrigan‘s review of the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s classic: “While transforming Offred into a stereotypically empowered representation of a woman may make the show more appealing to some viewers, I found it disheartening.”