Recommended reading: on dictionary-related panics from The New Yorker. Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s Millions essay “Prescriptivists vs. Descriptivists: The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary.”
Recommended Reading: From The New Yorker, it’s Tessa Hadley on fiction as anthropology: “When I’m writing a story, its world is thin, unsatisfactory, untrue, until I start to find my way to those details, those ‘small cultural signifiers.’ As these accumulate on the page, the life in the piece thickens, the details breed, and the story begins to stir.”
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.
Year in Reading alum Angela Flournoy writes about Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for the National Book Foundation. “I return to Invisible Man often because it accomplishes so many things at once, but never at the sake of intelligent, moving storytelling.” Pair with our interview with Flournoy.
If you know that Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley, you know that she’s an exceptional authority on the workings of the criminal mind. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring digs up an old interview with the author, in which she describes the act of murder as “the opposite of freedom.” You could also read Tana French on Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train.