Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.
Who among us hasn’t considered turning to jewel thievery and the heisting life during some of our weaker moments? Over at The Daily Beast, Geoff Manaugh takes a look at why we all secretly dream of becoming jewel thieves. If you enjoyed this heist story but you found it lacking in Ben Affleck, then here’s a piece on his true-crime flick The Town and bad drama.
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”
“’When I finish reading one of her stories, I always feel understood and somehow forgiven for being human,’ Mr. George said. ‘It may simply come down to wisdom. Like the greats, Edith has it.'” Steve Almond gives an overview of Edith Pearlman‘s writing and publication history for The New York Times Book Review in the wake of the release of her latest collection, Honeydew, which Josh Cook recently reviewed for The Millions.