In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
In 2010, the poet Tarfia Faizullah traveled to Bangladesh to speak with the survivors of the 1971 Liberation War. Eventually, she wrote a poetry collection about those interviews, which went on to win the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award. At The Paris Review Daily, Sean Carman interviews Faizullah.
The New York Review of Books posts a vintage essay by Joan Didion on the films of Woody Allen: “This notion of oneself as a kind of continuing career—something to work at, work on, ‘make an effort’ for and subject to an hour a day of emotional Nautilus training, all in the interests not of attaining grace but of improving one’s ‘relationships’—is fairly recent in the world, at least in the world not inhabited entirely by adolescents. In fact the paradigm for the action in these recent Woody Allen movies is high school.”
“America has always been able to countenance beggars, short-con men, and nine-to-fivers who just can’t get ahead, but we’ve never known what to do with the type of person who could have been really big but chose not to make the concessions required.” The Believer takes a look at the paradox of Nelson Algren.
Could it be for the best that Lisbeth Salander outlived her creator? Do writers own the rights to their own superstar characters, or do the rights belong to the readers? These questions and more are explored in a fascinating essay from The Atlantic. Here’s a Millions piece in which Pippi Longstocking is touted as Salander’s literary forebear.
The Barcelona Review has the text of the eponymous story from Alan Heathcock’s Volt for your reading pleasure. You might remember Heathcock’s work from last Decemeber, when Michael Schaub picked the “dark, beautiful short story collection” in his Year in Reading installment, and then gave it a glowing review for NPR.