“After [WWII], the other Finnish artists formed themselves into political groups but Tove wasn’t a joiner; besides, the only political activity she enjoyed was tyrant-baiting. She decided to emigrate to the island kingdom of Tonga but the governor wrote back saying there was a housing shortage and she wouldn’t be welcome. So she created her own Tonga: Moominland.” A new biography looks at the “conflicted life” and creative work of Tove Jansson, whose name has appeared several times here at The Millions.
"[YOU can only speak to what you experienced outside several seconds after your coworker entered the building, but several seconds before YOU yourself reached your cubicle. YOU do not know if it is in fact still raining out. YOU say nothing and are forever plagued by the unknowable nature of the immediate present.]" These short existentialist plays starring you and your coworkers are sure to stir up some feelings of gloom, doom, and familiarity.
In addition to House of Holes' recent coverage in the New York Review of Books and Open Letters Monthly (and on The Millions), the latest edition of The Paris Review features an interview with "mad scientist of smut" Nicholson Baker. (You can check out an excerpt here.) But for those still unsatisfied, Adam Wilson has assembled a canon of raunchy literature.
Add this to the list of incredible things you didn’t know you needed until now. At Quartz, Jenni Avins reads through a selection of hand-typed book reviews, found in the NYPL’s archives, in which librarians tear apart children’s books they find objectionable. Sample quote, from a review of Green Eggs and Ham: “There must be better ways of teaching a child to read than this.”
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)