“We don’t have to look at Iraq for an analogue to Missouri,” writes Elif Batuman. “We can look instead at Missouri, or elsewhere in the United States.” Indeed for many ordinary Americans, as Jabari Asim echoes in his poem inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, “It’s more than time we had that talk / about what to say and where to walk, / how to act and how to strive, / how to be upright and stay alive.”
Last week, I followed up the news that “because” may now be used as a preposition by noting that the American Dialect Society had named it their Word of the Year. Now, in The New Republic, John McWhorter argues that the new preposition is used to signal empathy and warmth. (Related: Fiona Maazel on the dangers of bad grammar.)
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.
“There needs to be a literary Juneteenth. We can’t rely on publications and presses that have, through the actions and complicity of their leadership, proven oppressive. For history to avoid repeating itself, we need to define sustainability for ourselves. This could mean expanding existing infrastructure, forming new platforms, or simply self-publishing. None of those things are as easy as plugging into what already exists, but given the state of the field, there needs to be a deep interrogation of what already exists to see if it truly values us, sees us.” Casey Rocheteau on the restorative justice of publishing, over at The Offing.
New this week: My Education by Susan Choi, Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw, Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano, The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth, and a new edition of a previously hard to come by early collection of stories by John Banville, Long Lankin. Stay tuned for our big second-half preview with many, many more anticipated books, coming in less than a week.
One Goodreads vigilante has created a master list of authors notorious for responding immaturely or meanly to negative reviews of their work. Elsewhere, iDreamBooks, a new Rotten Tomatoes-type service, was launched. The site aggregates critics’ book reviews and shows you what to read next.