New this week: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro; A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray; After Everything by Suellen Dainty; The Blue Buick by B.H. Fairchild; Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley; and a new translation of The Bacchae by Euripides. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Corey Vilhauer, host of his Book of the Month Club here at The Millions, has put together a great collection of lists of greatest writers, straying outside of the purely literary realm into music, film, and other areas. He has his own top 25, as well as top tens from a number of guests.The Guardian interviews Richard Ford in anticipation of his upcoming third Frank Bascome novel, Lay of the Land. “It is quite some novelty to find myself waking up in Richard Ford’s bed,” it starts.The Boston Globe profiles John Hodgman, who, with his book The Areas of My Expertise, regular “Daily Show” appearances, and ubiquitous Mac ads is suddenly everywhere. Update: Hodgman gets interviewed by Radar.Did you know there are two books about “Jeopardy!” out right now? Brainiac is by Ken Jennings, the guy who was the game show’s champion for about six months in 2004. A somewhat wackier look at the show is Prisoner of Trebekistan by another former champion, Bob Harris. The Village Voice recently reviewed both books.
The New Yorker has been hosting a Twitter game show, and this time around the contestants were words and in a macabre turn each word was berated by the audience, the people calling out for the death of that contestant. One word was forced to ultimately bite the bullet and will no longer be welcome in the magazine’s next issue. Tragic.
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there’s a different kind of classic that’s worth revisiting and questioning. “You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line–credited to Theodore Roosevelt–is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.