How did Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston become friends? For Longreads, Yuval Taylor tells the story of a fortuitous road trip, on which Hurston drove Hughes from Mobile to Tuskegee in her Nash coupe. “The road trip provided the perfect opportunity for Zora and Langston to compare notes from their Southern travels, exchange ideas, and explore, along the back roads, the characteristics of African American culture that informed their greatest work,” writes Taylor. “They had both kept meticulous records of songs, sayings, turns of phrase; they related their impressions of conjure wisdom, including the names of potions and powders; they delighted in the cultural riches of their Southern black brethren.” And thus, one of the great literary friendships was born.
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions “comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
Last year, Laura van den Berg came out with a new book, The Isle of Youth, which Nathan Huffstutter reviewed for The Millions. On the Guernica blog, Dwyer Murphy interviews van den Berg, who talks about jacket photos, her first collection and whether a writer from Florida is part of the Southern tradition. (You could also read van den Berg’s Year in Reading entry.)
“It’s somewhat surprising that typos and grammatical errors hold this much power given the speed and frequency of written communication that characterizes the digital age. Despite our ‘sent from my iPhone’ disclaimers, it appears we should still be diligent about avoiding written mistakes. Especially if were writing to a conscientious introvert whose not very agreeable. Their the wrst.” On proving something that we all suspected to be true: less agreeable people care the most about grammar.