On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Also, Franz Kafka went swimming. Moreover, the Metamorphosis author mentioned both events in his diary, writing simply and strangely that “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this odd phrasing intentional or a sign of the author’s self-absorption? In an article for Open Letters Monthly, Robert Minto reads all three volumes of Reiner Stach’s new biography.
“Hey, I noticed you checking out my tote bag. I’m sure you see a lot of totes on the train, all about food co-ops or public radio or theater repertory companies. But me, I use this expanse of unbleached cotton-canvas blend to say one thing: I love books.”
All of us have particular words that we use a little too often. Writers tend to be embarrassed about their predilections for certain turns of phrase. At Slate, Matthew J.X. Malady reacts to the news that he uses iteration too much, and delves into the ways our verbal habits spread to others.
The Common has a newly translated chapter of Turki al-Hamad’s novel Al Karadib. Its publication online coincides with the one-year anniversary of al-Hamad’s arrest in December 2012 for “tweets considered apostasy.” This featured chapter is the first part of the book to be translated into English.
Eve Bowen takes a trip to “Gorey Preserved,” an exhibition of “nearly every edition of every work published by [Edward] Gorey, in addition to illustrations for dust jackets and magazines, etchings, posters, and design ephemera,” on display at Columbia University until August 10th. Those unable to attend need not fret—Bowen walk readers through a history of the prolific illustrator’s work and includes plenty of links to his drawings online.