Any linguist will tell you that languages differ when it comes to how easily they let you specify information. At Slate, Gretchen McCulloch points to a video that highlights four linguistic features we might like to have in English.
“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)
We might mock romance readers for how much Kleenex they go through, but they’re more emotionally perceptive than others. A new study on the interpersonal sensitivity of readers found that romance readers are better at discerning facial cues and emotion than other literati. But don’t worry if you aren’t a Nicholas Sparks fan; reading any genre makes you more empathetic, as we’ve reported on before.
This week the Band of Merry Men/Women that is of Football Book Club is reading Carmen Giménez Smith’s poetry collection Milk and Filth — and posting about Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. Also: Check in later this week for possible guest posts by Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Also: There will be no guest posts by Ben Carson and Donald Trump.
In The Nation, Mark Oppenheimer reviews Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts, which includes the New Yorker staff writer’s early works of criticism. The problem, he writes, with her and most Western critics? “She is a snob, but wishes she weren’t.” (ICYMI: we published a review a few weeks ago.)
Elie Wiesel — Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, political activist, and author of Night — passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Here’s a quote that perfectly captures Wiesel’s essence, from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
“It’s the marriage of one kind of darkness to another… the black storm cloud of Neel’s pen is well suited to Dostoyevsky’s questions of God, reason, and doubt.” On Alice Neel‘s illustrations for The Brothers Karamazov, from The Paris Review. Pair with our own Kevin Hartnett’s much lighter take on the novel, “Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One.”