Judy Blume answered questions about life, writing, and her new book, In the Unlikely Event, on Alfred A. Knopf’s Tumblr on Wednesday. In case you haven’t checked it out, The Millions has a Tumblr, too.
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
During the Cold War, the CIA became entrenched in cultural life through an organization named, ironically enough, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In order to fight communism, they funded socialist artists. The Awl has compiled a list of literary journals, including the Kenyon Review and The Paris Review, that were once supported by the CIA.
Over at The Margins, Franny Choi, Ali Eteraz, and others respond to Calvin Trillin’s New Yorker poem, “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” As they put it, “Trillin is part of the ‘we’ in his poem but it’s clear that Chinese and Chinese American people are not. Instead, invoking Yellow Peril fears, Trillin speaks of the threat food from ‘more provinces’ while ignoring that those provinces are home to people, too.”
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating “submission fees” in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript – names have been changed to protect the innocent – is alternately depressing and heartening. It’s a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we’ve de-activated the link to reflect that.)
The Swiss foundation Anne Frank Fonds is attempting to extend the copyright of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl by crediting Anne’s father as a co-author — even though Otto Frank writes in the prologue to the first edition that the book mostly contains Anne’s words.
Fans of Moby-Dick should read Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding historical account In the Heart of the Sea. The book, which tracks the fate of The Essex, a New England whaling vessel sunk by a humongous sperm whale in the South Pacific, is vivid and harrowing. It’s also, as it turns out, only one of the naval catastrophes to befall George Pollard, Jr., The Essex‘s captain: a second wreck of his was recently located off the coast of Hawaii.