Recommended RSS-ing: A better word of the day from artist Tory Hoke, who pairs each unusual word with a hand-drawn comic. Friday’s entry, “spurcitious,” is charmingly defined in relation to a thumb and a hammer. Hate pictures? Other tried-and-true options include curators at Merriam-Webster, The New York Times, and this guy on Twitter.
“Language starts to shut down the strength and power and strangeness of what it means to be a person in the world.” At The Rumpus, Ben Marcus discusses how he uses language in his writing and his new short story collection, Leaving the Sea (featured in our 2014 book preview.) Pair with: Our own Adam Boretz’s interview with Marcus and our review of The Flame Alphabet.
Parul Sehgal, nonfiction editor at Publisher’s Weekly (and sister of The Millions intern Ujala Sehgal), has been awarded the National Books Critics Circle “Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.” Previous winners include Joan Acocella, Ron Charles, and Sam Anderson. The award was based on her diverse portfolio of work as a reviewer, including a review of Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance, a review of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, and her piece on David Abram’s Becoming Animal. Congratulations!
Canonical literature isn’t the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon’s Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, “A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself.”