In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
"A story works when there’s momentum, life behind the words," Mary Miller told Matthew Salesses at The Rumpus. She needs that momentum for her new novel, The Last Days of California, about a family driving to California for the rapture. Also, Amy Butcher wrote about her favorite Millerisms at Hobart.
Piggybacking off a brief aside in Ian Frazier’s new review of James Agee’s Cotton Tenants, Claire Kelley explores an odd and intriguing question: was Agee related to Walt Whitman? (Related: Mallory Ortberg on the probability that Whitman did the dirty with Oscar Wilde.)
School hasn’t started back up yet, so if you’re looking for ways to entertain your kids until the end of Summer, I recommend perusing NPR’s round-up of “100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14.” (Or, you know, tell them to just go outside already. And to be sure to shut the door to keep the air conditioning in.)
Words Without Borders has interviewed the writers and translators of Man Booker International Prize finalists Man Tiger, A General Theory of Oblivion, The Vegetarian, and more. Pair with this Millions review of The Vegetarian, a “dark and cynical” novel.
A group at NYU's journalism school has named "The Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade in the United States." Four of these are books: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family, Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, and Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed.