Mairead Small Staid writes on the history and poetics of the ampersand, “a logogram masquerading as a letter, a letter that is also a word—like a and I and even o, but no—a letter that is only a word, the plainest word of all.”
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.
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop turns 75 this year. To celebrate, a number of alumni are writing essays on their experiences for various blogs (as well as ours!) as part of The 75th Project. At The Los Angeles Review of Books, Kevin Brockmeier has comprised “A Chronological List of Statements People Made to Me at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 1995-1997.” Additionally, Joyelle McSweeney has a piece on n+1‘s website entitled “Iowa Occult: a Mütter Pedagogy; Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Vomit Art.”
The good souls at Longform.org have organized all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners.
The latest short by James W. Griffiths, We Were Wanderers On a Prehistoric Earth, is an “ode to the incredible flora and fauna of Malaysia.” The film is accompanied by a passage from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and it’s clear that the author’s description of the Congo applies to Southeast Asia quite easily.