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.
Sam Sacks offers up a review of Booker winner The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for Open Letters“Obama spotted carrying poetry book” – It was Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek WalcottThe amazing, exhaustive, 7-part, behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 campaign from NewsweekRahm, Ari, Zeke: Which Emmanuel brother are you?In case you weren’t already tired of this… the n+1 vs. the lit-blogs row of early 2007 lands in an academic journal. Our own contribution to the saga is duly noted.Wyatt Mason offers more thoughts on John Leonard (via Conversational Reading)Malcolm Gladwell’s latest, The Outliers, hits stores a week from today. Gladwell introduces the book in a video at Amazon (scroll down a bit).Oxford researchers figure out the ten most annoying phrases.And the New Oxford American Dictionary has named its Word of the Year: hypermiling.As we remember Michael Crichton, “The Top 5 ‘Crazy’ Michael Crichton Ideas That Actually Came True“Nam Le wins the Dylan Thomas Prize. We interviewed him in August.
“I mostly find it sad. I understand that super religious people would not be there supporting it, but to go the extra mile to fight it when you could just not come kinda shocked me!” The Huffington Post reports on Brandon James, a drag performer whose plans to read to kids about acceptance at a North Carolina public library were scuttled after some of its patrons complained. We suppose the march of progress is never neat (via Book Riot).
“I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.” Writing advice from Sebastian Junger.
“I remember LeVar shooting at a zoo and an elephant had a cold and kept blowing snot all over him. He never lost his cool. ‘OK, let’s try it again.’” OMG guys, Mental Floss has an oral history of Reading Rainbow! And let us also never forget the reminiscences of our founder C. Max Magee‘s mom upon learning the show would be cancelled.
NPR offers a nifty gallery that accompanies the publication of this quirky collection: Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.The Coen Brothers have signed on to helm the film version of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. The big-screen version of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found (though it’s reportedly been in the works for years).Elsewhere in book-to-movie news, Ian McEwen is pleased with the film version of his novel Atonement.Poet and critic Reginald Shepherd reflects on becoming a blogger. “Until a couple of years ago, I barely knew what a blog was, and certainly had never seen one,” he writes. But it proved quite fruitful: “it sometimes seems that my blog has done more to raise my profile than all my more-than-fifteen years of copious publishing put together.”Five reasons not to give up books (the paper ones, as opposed the digital counterparts.)I think it’s an ad for a video game, but this video contains some masterful soccer kung fu.None of us at The Millions is affiliated with Princeton, but this list of the school’s most influential alums is interesting in a random sort of way.The new half-hour HBO show In Treatment is a free podcast at the iTunes store. The show stars Gabriel Byrne as a psychotherapist and each episode represents a single session with one of five patients.The writers’ strike is over. The resulting carnage on the schedules for all your favorite shows is laid out here.
For those of you who were not on Twitter yesterday, the novelist Elizabeth McCracken tweeted a series of tips for applying to MFA fiction programs. Among other bits of good advice, she says it’s generally best to apply with a solid short story rather than a novel chapter.