What is the greatest crime in literary history? Depending on who you ask, it was probably the burning of Byron’s memoirs. Shortly after his death, three of Byron’s closest friends, along with a few attorneys representing family interests, decided that the memoirs were too scandalous to publish and thus tossed them bit by bit into a fireplace. They claim to have been acting in his best interest, and, as Byron himself said, “There is no instinct like that of the heart.”
"The wish to be a writer, and the will to be one, solve nothing about how you will live, and don’t even solve anything about how you will write. You have given yourself the vaguest designation." Kristy Eldredge writes for The Rumpus about drawing inspiration from the unconventional career choices of Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer, including the New York Times column he almost never wrote. Pair her essay with our own Janet Potter's review of Dyer's latest full-length work, Another Great Day at Sea.
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn't and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
Michael Wolff's palace intrigue book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse has dominated the news cycle this week. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter, publisher Henry Holt and Co. responded by pushing the publication date up four days. Currently #1 on Amazon's Bestseller list, many independent booksellers say they have sold all their copies as well.
In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it "a marketing scam." (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that "You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page." (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
“Many black parents tell black children to strive; to seize opportunities that will enable upward mobility. However, they also give their children a poison capable of eroding black children’s innocence. They tell them to be twice as good; that there is no room for failure or mistakes.” Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun, writes about how black children are denied the privilege of innocence.