David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
For those of you who were not on Twitter yesterday, the novelist Elizabeth McCracken tweeted a series of tips for applying to MFA fiction programs. Among other bits of good advice, she says it’s generally best to apply with a solid short story rather than a novel chapter.
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
New this week is The Tiger’s Wife, the hotly anticipated debut of Téa Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 from last year. Also new in the fiction aisle is Carol Edgarian’s Three Stages of Amazement. David Brooks’s latest pop sociology effort The Social Animal is now out — this one, excerpted in the New Yorker — sets itself apart from similar tomes by illustrating its findings through a pair of fictional characters. Now out in paperback are National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon, Ian McEwan’s Solar, and Rebecca Skloot’s non-fiction blockbuster The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.