“[E]ach video is a portrait of the artist as a beginner—and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria.” The Paris Review has a new video series called “My First Time,” in which big-name authors talk about getting their start. Helen DeWitt, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sheila Heti, a chain-smoking Karl Ove Knausgaard – what more could anyone want? More origin stories, that’s what! Six writers – Colum McCann, Alexander Chee, Jami Attenberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Justin Taylor, and Anthony Marra – look back on their first books for us.
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
Recommended Reading: Poet and novelist Carmen Boullosa on her obsession with lost stories and found textual objects, as well as the efficacy of rereading.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
This month the Cleveland International Film Festival will show Dear Mr. Watterson, a film exploring “how … a simple comic strip became so meaningful to such a massive and diverse group of people.” Yet despite the subject matter, the actual author of the Calvin and Hobbes series will almost certainly be absent from the screenings. Over at Full Stop, Liv Combe looks at the ways Bill Watterson is “keeping the idea of the private public figure alive.”