“When they’re not at their day jobs, a great many of the island’s 330,000 inhabitants dabble in verse.” The New York Times attempts to understand why Iceland is chock-a-block with poets. A few years back we reviewed one of its better known practitioners (and Björk lyricist) Sjón.
Maria Popova, who recently wrote a Year In Reading post for our series, has teamed up with artist Lisa Congdon on a new project concerning notable women working in art, science and literature. For each week in 2013, The Reconstructionists will present an illustrated portrait of one “trailblazing woman, along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit.” Updates will also feature a “sort micro-essay about her life and legacy.” Up first in the series are Anaïs Nin, Gertrude Stein, Agnes Martin, and Hedy Lamarr.
In 2002, David Friedman thought of a question he wanted to ask Oliver Sacks, on the topic of 3D glasses and “pseudoscopic” vision. A week after he sent the letter, he received a typewritten reply, complete with diagrams. At The Morning News, a copy of the letter he received, along with background.
For everyone who likes typography and arguments, New York Magazine has a story up that covers the type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones and follows the pair through their success to their ultimate rift. For those who prefer debates with more immediate impact, Mental Floss has a breakdown of the best shots fired in the fight over the Oxford Comma.
The brief excerpt of The Late American Novel that appeared in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend was also the first appearance of “A Tiny New Culture Section With No Name,” part of the Magazine’s redesign. At the Magazine’s “behind-the-scenes” blog, Editor Adam Sternbergh talks about the tiny new section and has some very nice things to say about The Late American Novel as well.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children’s book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain’s self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.