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.
“Over the past thirty-five years alone, language from Frost’s poem has appeared in nearly two thousand news stories worldwide, which yields a rate of more than once a week. In addition, ‘The Road Not Taken’ appears as a title, subtitle, or chapter heading in more than four hundred books by authors other than Robert Frost, on subjects ranging from political theory to the impending zombie apocalypse.” David Orr writes for The Paris Review about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” one of the most misread poems of the English language.
“I lost the first good novel I ever wrote to a computer disaster. It happened at a crucial time in my life. I was working nights, living in a mouse-infested tenement in Giuliani-era Harlem and still figuring out if I could even do this thing — become a writer for real.” Mat Johnson on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog about the ultimate authorial nightmare, and how he recovered from it. Pair with our review of Johnson’s latest novel, Loving Day.
“But we are lured into believing that the first person is the manifestation of an authentic self. Or: we fall for the first person because we feel so little coherence in our own internal lives, and immersing ourselves in a sustained first person narrative gives us the false reassurance of an illusion.”
Coverage of The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (do you have your copy yet?) has been coming in at a steady clip: NYC publication CityArts takes a look; yours truly interviewed on The Marketplace of Ideas; Edward Champion offers a hasty response; the my co-editor sits down with his hometown paper.