It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”
“Adolf Hitler loved books—that nasty bent for book burning notwithstanding—and the book industry loves him back. Type his name into Amazon, and while he doesn’t trigger the English-language numbers of Jesus (186,740) or Lincoln (70,710), he registers a solid 18,597—a stunning figure for someone who died less than 70 years ago.” On the Fuhrer’s paradoxical relationship with literature.
Full Stop will be celebrating five years in January as an online literary journal. To commemorate the anniversary, they’re publishing their first-ever book, collecting the very best writing from their website and featuring blurbs by anyone who makes a donation to the magazine. Pair with this Millions piece on the art of blurb writing.
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.