“[L]ike many, many other rules in the English language, it turns out this one is built on a foundation of lies.” That whole ‘i before e, except after c rule? Bunk. Which you would already know, if you were a true spelling bee hopeful.
Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran's essay on duels in Russian fiction.
"We editors told ourselves the naked women were merely carnival barkers: they got an audience into the tent, but we kept them with the content." In the Guardian, Playboy's former fiction editor Amy Grace Loyd reveals what it was like to work at the magazine and how she commissioned work from writers like Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz. Read our review of Loyd's debut novel, The Affairs of Others.
"In real life, we are often so bound by social convention, but at the same time we all have secret, inexplicable aspects of ourselves. The parts that nobody else sees. In fiction, we are not bound by social convention, so the things that mystify and unsettle are allowed to rise to the surface." Salon interviews Laura van den Berg about her new novel, Find Me, which we covered in our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Laila Lalami recently wrote about "How History Becomes Story," but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that "it is your job to force your facts into narrative form."
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher's run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I've had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I'm co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)