“In the morning, before we left, we presented my aunt with a gift from Indonesia, a package of luwak, one of four in Bon’s duffel. Civet coffee? she said, bemused. We were already savoring cups of coffee at her table, brewed in her coffee press from Arabica beans of her own supply.” An excerpt from Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen’s forthcoming novel appears in the new issue of Ploughshares.
Stephen Fry joins “the congregation at the Church of Apple” for the launch of the iPad and shares his thoughts on the company and its newest product.
In true Seinfeldian fashion, Arthur Martine, the Victorian writer behind Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette, drew up a detailed taxonomy of the various species of bore. These include the Loud Talker, who “silences a whole party by his sole power of lungs;” the Malaprop, who masters the art of inappropriate conversation; and the Life-Sharer, who may be familiar to the Facebook addicts of today.
George Dobbs explores the history of some common cliches for The Airship and makes an elegant argument for being aware of overused phrasing: “The worst fiction might never go beyond widely used tropes, but the best fiction starts with an awareness of them.” We agree, and also hope never to read “It was a dark and stormy night…” again.
I’ve written before about Haruki Murakami‘s advice column, but at that point it was still a work-in-progress with few details or samples available. A month later, the submission period for questions is over and Murakami’s responses are being published. The Washington Post calls the column “surrealist and sweet,” and NPR has reported on the ongoing Mr.Murakami’s Place project as well, with an emphasis on semi-magical stories involving cats.