In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.
"I realize that, like most fantasies, reality is likely to be more complicated. For starters, literary communities—like most communities—have echelons. They have cliques; they have ghettos. You are the wrong age, work in the wrong genre, don’t know the right people, don’t teach at the same program ... Anyone who thinks this isn’t true is someone squarely at the center of his or her chosen circle." On peripherality and the uncertain nature of literary community.
Here is a helpful User’s Guide to John Irving from the good people over at Hazlitt–it should be all you need in order to tackle Irving’s newest novel, Avenue of Mysteries. This slightly disheartened take on what it’s like to re-read Irving is worth a look.
Over at The New Yorker, Hilton Als writes about Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Prince, Cecil Taylor, Octavia Butler, and time travel. He writes, “Toward the end of the film, [Beyoncé] moves further back into the past and examines her roots, we see any number of sharply dressed women sitting in the natural world, talking among themselves. This will remind readers of that extraordinary scene in Beloved, when the elder commands those who have gathered in a clearing to love their hands, themselves—because if they don’t, who will?”
What do you get if you combine Man Ray with some of the most celebrated artistic figures of 1920’s Paris such as Ernest Hemingway, Lee Miller, and Marcel Duchamp? The answer is: some predictably fantastic portraits. For more on Man Ray, here’s a moving essay on how his Hollywood Album redefined Liska Jacobs’ idea of a “life’s work.”