Out this week: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta; After the Parade by Lori Ostlund; Hotel by Joanna Walsh; The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi; Succession by Livi Michael; Selected Later Poems by C.K. Williams; and Notes on the Assemblage by Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The passing of Muhammad Ali was sad for fans of both sports and greatness alike. One little known Ali fact is that he once composed a line-for-line sonnet with another one of “the greatest,” the poet Marianne Moore. Let none other than George Plimpton explain it to you.
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
Paul Muldoon raised this season’s commencement bar with his address to Bennington College’s Writing Seminar graduates. At The Russian Samovar a few months ago, before reading from Maggot, he explained the phrase “cock a snook.”
The 3 Quarks Daily annual prize for Arts and Literature blog writing has been announced! Nominations are open in the comments of the announcement. This year’s judge is author, professor, blogger, intellect Laila Lalami. Dear readers, feel free to nominate any Millions writing you enjoyed here. And to the guest contributors out there, be sure to nominate your Millions contributions!
After word got out last week that J.K. Rowling regrets bringing Ron and Hermione together, many people responded with interesting takes on the news. The hubbub missed the full context of Rowling’s quotes, however, as they leaked from an interview in Wonderland magazine that hadn’t yet been released. Now the new issue of the the magazine is out, and the context changes things a bit: Rowling actually said the two “will be alright with a bit of counseling.”
In a longform piece for The Atlantic Diane Saverin writes about Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the predominantly male tradition of wilderness-writing, and how Dillard found and wrote about the wild while living in suburbia. She also wrestles with the question: “if the author conveys a resonant truth, does it matter what experiences led to the realizations?”
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.