Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, started his auspicious career in the most unlikely of imaginary places: crafting stories for his friends in the tabletop roleplay game Dungeons & Dragons.
Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?
Conversational Reading has put together its own “most anticipated” books list that has some overlap with our own. It’s also worth noting that the trend of posthumous publication noted in our Most Anticipated introduction, was plumbed with considerably more depth at The Quarterly Conversation last year.
Those of you who remember the days before the advent of the word processor likely have some fond memories of using (or seeing other people using) a typewriter. At The Guardian, the Books Blog collects typewriter stories from readers. You could also read our own Bill Morris on keeping a pen pal and using a typewriter.
What writers are actually earning money? Over at Electric Literature, Lincoln Michel takes a look at the new Author Earnings report, which scours Amazon bestseller lists and extrapolates the data to make claims about the state of publishing and self-publishing. Here’s an older Millions piece by Edan Lepucki on self-publishing as supplemental and influential to the traditional route.
While working with Australia’s Lajamanu Aboriginal population in remote sections of the Tanami Desert, linguist Carmel O’Shannessy identified “a [new] language system, independent of … other languages” spoken by about 300 people. Since her initial discovery in the late 1990s, O’Shannessy has studied the language and its grammatical structure, and now her findings have been published this month in the journal Language (PDF).
We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.