“My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, or a partner that’s left us—grief becomes its own comfort.” Adnan Khan writes for Hazlitt about how apocalypse fictions mirror the immigrant experience and vice versa.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
“I’ve turned paranoid lately. When I’m in an airport, I look at the people around me at the gate, trying to suss out who might make a good ally if things went bad. I carry two plastic tubs full of warm clothes, hiking boots, and first-aid supplies in the back of my Subaru at all times. I have as large a volume of canned and dry goods in my pantry and laundry room as the shelves will hold.” Rebecca Onion for Slate on the appeal and contagion of “prepper fiction.” Pair with our review of Claire Vaye Watkins‘s Gold Fame Citrus, one of the recent bumper crop of apocalyptic narratives.
“I’ve been hailed as a hero (hipster poets love me), gotten the rock star reception (by research librarians), and been dismissed with derision, thought possibly to be deranged,” says Jon Danzinger. So what’s his job, you might ask? He’s a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.
“In the morning, before we left, we presented my aunt with a gift from Indonesia, a package of luwak, one of four in Bon’s duffel. Civet coffee? she said, bemused. We were already savoring cups of coffee at her table, brewed in her coffee press from Arabica beans of her own supply.” An excerpt from Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen’s forthcoming novel appears in the new issue of Ploughshares.