How did commas, colons, dashes, and question marks come into existence? Keith Houston writes for BBC about the history of punctuation.
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions “comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
The latest effort from superstar translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky: Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago is now on shelves. P & V’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories is in our Hall of Fame, and we interviewed the couple last year. Also out: Mark Twain’s long-embargoed Autobiography is now shipping; V.S. Naipaul’s The Masque of Africa; X’ed Out by graphic novel master Charles Burns; Avi Steinburg’s literary memoir Running the Books: Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian; and the odd literary project that is James Franco has a new collection out, Palo Alto
In a long tradition of online experimentation, Amazon has now started including something called “Shopping-enabled Wikipedia Pages” in its internal search results (see the second result here). Now you can view a copy of Wikipedia pages for authors like David Foster Wallace, J.K. Rowling, Jonathan Franzen, and probably thousands of others. How can Amazon do this? Wikipedia pages are free for anyone to reuse for almost any purpose, so long as the license info is displayed. Why is Amazon doing this? It wants free content that it can monetize.
“Save one life save the world, instructs the Talmud… You can’t save every life. You can’t save every book. But you can at least throw lifelines now and then.” Susan Coll writes for The Atlantic about the power of shelving and the importance of staying hopeful, no matter how gloomy publishing becomes.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan drops today. Our review. Also out recently are Walks With Men, a novella by Ann Beattie, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, a novel from Aimee Bender. This week also sees the long-awaited posthumous publication of Henry Roth’s An American Type. Another recent posthumous publication: Robert Walser’s mysterious Microscripts.