Here’s a simple poll idea we’re amazed we hadn’t thought of before: asking famous writers to pick their favorite words. In The Guardian, Hilary Mantel, Tessa Hadley and others (including Year in Reading alum Eimear McBride) choose their picks for an exceedingly odd vocabulary list.
"Hamlet’s famous last words—'The rest is silence'—are less punning than ironic, since both his parting, eloquent gasps and his death play out amidst a growing bassline beat. 'What warlike noise is this?' Hamlet asks as the poison takes hold. The drums and commotion signal the arrival of the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras, who bursts into the quiet of the massacred Danish court. From the beginning of Hamlet, we’re taught to think of sovereignty as a manipulation of sound waves." What does silence mean in this age of constant digital noise? The Literary Hub takes a look.
The New York Times is reporting that the poet John Ashbery has died. A major figure in American letters, Ashbery won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in a single year for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The full Times obituary has more.
Last year we highlighted University of Nebraska Press among other small presses for the keeping in print otherwise little known future Nobel laureates. Today's honoree Mario Vargas Llosa is quite well-known by comparison, but University of Nebraska Press has nonetheless (barely) run its Nobel streak to three straight years by way of Vargas Llosa's inclusion in the press' soccer writing anthology, The Global Game: Writers on Soccer.
Some say 2012 was “the year of the e-single,” and Laura Hazard Owen is here to explain why. While on the topic, you might want to check out Epic Fail, which was our debut into the world of e-singles. Author Mark O’Connell recently sat down with Hazlitt to discuss the book – as well as Guy Fieri.
A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War" (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”