“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
“New York: Ana and Christian explore bondage in the back of a New York City taxi cab. The driver confuses Ana’s safe word for their destination and mistakenly drops them off at the ‘Guggenheim.'” At The Morning News, Sean Tabb imagines how Fifty Shades of Grey could be adapted for every state.
“In the six years that I wrote the book, I moved around a huge amount. I was in five or six different states, and spent a lot of time on the road. I think if you’re out in this country so much, you just see a lot of weird stuff. Weird, ominous stuff.” Talking with Laura van den Berg.
It was shocking to find that New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid had died, of an asthma attack of all things, while reporting in Syria, especially when he’s put himself in harm’s way so many other times and emerged unscathed. Tyler Hicks, the Times photographer who was with Shadid when he died and who escorted his body out of Syria was, along with Shadid, among of the four journalists captured and held in Libya less than a year ago in the early days of the uprising there. Shadid’s reporting was brave and essential there and elsewhere. His death comes just weeks before the release of a memoir, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
As a way of commemorating Philip Roth’s 80th birthday, the Newark Preservation and Landmarks committee is offering a $35 bus tour called “Philip Roth’s Newark.” Visitors will get a tour of “places recalled in Mr. Roth’s books” such as Washington Park, the Essex County Courthouse and “various spots in the Weequahic neighborhood where Mr. Roth was born and raised.”
“Today I ate my shame, regurgitated it as a self-disgust, and digested it again as indolence. Known in the physical world as udon noodles with shrimp tempura,” Teddy Wayne told VICE. He and other writers (including our own Emily St. John Mandel) were profiled on what they eat for lunch. On the side: famous writers’ favorite snacks (Lord Byron liked to drink vinegar.)