“I HAVE A FLOWER. OHO. SUDDENLY WE’RE NOT SO SKEPTICAL, ARE WE?” I know it’s 2016 and he’s been dead for almost two hundred years now, but these otherwise inexplicable texts from Samuel Coleridge (by way of Mallory Ortberg at The Toast) are hilarious and totally believable. Some earlier hits include texts from Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy.
On this day 124 years ago Raymond Chandler, hardest of the hard-boiled, was born. To celebrate the father of Philip Marlowe see these letters Chandler wrote to some of his contemporaries, listen to Chandler’s interview with Ian Fleming, and enjoy a couple classic Chandlerisms. Most importantly, read “The Simple Art of Murder,” the greatest essay about the mystery novel ever written.
Guernica’s latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue’s introduction states, “The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.” The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.
What happens when two magazine writers publish stories on the same topic within a month of each other? We get to read some of the best long-form journalism of the year. Both Esquire’s Chris Jones and The Washingtonian’s Garrett M. Graff wrote about what it was like to be on Air Force One after the Kennedy assassination. Jones’ “The Flight From Dallas” hits 7,600 words, but Graff’s “Angel is Airborne” totals 18,000. Save some time to read both because they’re equally gripping and uniquely told narratives.
Eleanor Catton has been getting a lot of press for being the youngest author ever to win the Man Booker prize, but she claims that the new fame is a mixed blessing that often brings up sexism. “In my experience, and that of a lot of other women writers, all of the questions coming at them from interviewers tend to be about how lucky they are to be where they are – about luck and identity and how the idea struck them,” she told The Guardian.
Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.