“You can’t be worrying how you sound. You can’t wonder whether you or your characters are likable or smart or interesting. You have to be inside the scene—the tactile world of tables and chairs and sunlight—attending to your characters, people who exist for you in nonvirtual reality.” Paris Review editor Lorin Stein writes for The New York Times about solitude in the age of the Internet and the future of the book.
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem "To Fortune." As Herrick writes, "Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)" For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel's piece on commercial grammar.
It's Labor Day weekend, a perfect time relax and center yourself after a particularly boring work week. What better way than with this helpful (and hilarious) collection of stress-relieving adult-coloring-book pages of things that stress you out, including everything from Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston’s "super aggro press tour" to awkward conversations on the subway.
Will Self, whose novel Umbrella was recently tapped for the Booker Prize Longlist, talks about his literary influences with The Browser. For what it’s worth, here’s Self’s take on writing with the specific goal of a literary prize in mind: “I don’t know any writers who are trying to be clever and get a literary prize. Who the fuck would bother with such a thing?”
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote "Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist ... did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”