“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
Get your Bloomsday fix with our James Joyce quiz. Or you can celebrate with Emily M. Keeler, The Atlantic, a BBC dramatization, and Colm Tóibín. You can also read an excerpt from Ulysses over at Berfrois. Plus there's a 'Ulysses Seen' smartphone app (which is viewable online).
For those of you who’ve ever wondered to what extent e.e. cummings wrote prose the way he wrote poetry, there’s this letter to consider, published by The Paris Review Daily to commemorate the poet’s birthday. It’s addressed to Ezra Pound, and it features phrases including but not limited to “macarchibald maclapdog macleash.”
Celebrate today's arrival of John Irving's new novel Last Night in Twisted River by seeing where it falls on Wikipedia's John Irving recurring themes matrix. Also new today is Paul Auster's Invisible and a new collection of Paris Review interviews (including, among others, Marilynne Robinson, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth). Speaking of Roth, his new novel The Humbling came out last week.
"It’s somewhat surprising that typos and grammatical errors hold this much power given the speed and frequency of written communication that characterizes the digital age. Despite our 'sent from my iPhone' disclaimers, it appears we should still be diligent about avoiding written mistakes. Especially if were writing to a conscientious introvert whose not very agreeable. Their the wrst." On proving something that we all suspected to be true: less agreeable people care the most about grammar.