“He believed it a privilege and a shame that his race and nationality gave him the chance to come and go from lands where a guillotine blade seemed to dangle forever over the local citizens.” Denis Johnson‘s longtime Esquire editor Will Blythe pens a remembrance of the writer for The New York Times. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s recommendation of Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back. “I know it will knock him out,” she wrote. “It does (of course).”
Out this week: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion; All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg; Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Accusation by Bandi; The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge; and American Berserk by our own Bill Morris. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn’t and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
If Claudia Rankine writes it, it’s safe to say I’d recommend it. Here she is in a long, lovely essay on Adrienne Rich and her poetic transformations.