At the virtual Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival, Trick Mirror author Jia Tolentino interviewed Jenny Offill about research, writing, climate change, and her latest novel, Weather. The conversation is thrilling, in part because they pause to celebrate the just-announced election results, but also because the two writers and their sense of curiosity are so well matched. On the topic of incorporating facts into her fiction, Offill said, “The reason I put so many facts that are interesting to me in books is because I don’t actually remember things unless I write them down and try to put them in my own words. If I don’t want to forget that antelopes have 10x vision and can see the rings of Saturn, I think, okay, I’m going to find a place for this.” She also explained that writing about climate change helped ease her anxiety, at least momentarily: “Because I was writing and because I was thinking these things through, I actually became less doom-laden; I think I had a place to put it, I didn’t necessarily need to be the Ancient Mariner telling people my story in the streets. I would talk the most when I was not writing.”
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
Kirkus Reviews has announced the winners of this year’s Kirkus Prize, bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. The 2015 winners are Hanya Yanagihara (for her A Little Life, who we interviewed), Ta-Nehisi Coates (for Between the World and Me, which we published an essay about), and Pam Muñoz Ryan (for Echo).
Philosopher Slavoj Žižek doesn’t seem very happy these days. Yesterday he published a harsh response to the lukewarm reception NYRB and the Guardian gave his recently published opus, Less Than Nothing. And his declaration that “99% of people are boring idiots” in an recent interview does little to soften his image.