December 26, 1962 marked the first time that Playboy Magazine ever used the phrase “turn-on.” Since then, humans have conceived of a remarkable variety of metaphor and colorful language in an attempt to try and make some sense of copulation. Over at Hazlitt, Chelsea G. Summers takes a close look at the increasingly electric language of sex. Unsurprisingly, sex is never far from the mind of a literary writer, either.
New this week: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood; Gold, Fame, Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins; Vertigo by Joanna Walsh; Syllabus of Errors by Troy Jollimore; The Good Story by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz; I Must Be Living Twice by Eileen Myles; and The Complete Works of Primo Levi. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Apart from being one of America’s most eminent fiction writers, Eudora Welty was also an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by the hundreds of images she produced while employed by the Works Progress Administration in the midst of the Great Depression. As Danny Heitman writes, she was also known as a great public speaker, in part because, as she put it, “I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.” (h/t The Paris Review)
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer's piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things -- complicated geopolitical matters, for example -- must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer's assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.