Millions Millions

Apr 17

“Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” — If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.”  For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.

Jaden Smith is going from an action movie career to starring in an adaptation of James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. Liev Schreiber will play John Brown. If you’re unsure about casting a rapper to play the protagonist, take it up with McBride, who is also producing the film.

Jaden Smith is going from an action movie career to starring in an adaptation of James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. Liev Schreiber will play John Brown. If you’re unsure about casting a rapper to play the protagonist, take it up with McBride, who is also producing the film.

"I’ve always loved that ‘author’ derives from the Latin augere, to increase.” At The Guardian, Eleanor Catton discusses her inspiration for The Luminaries, which involved two years of research. Here’s our review of the finished product.

"I’ve always loved that ‘author’ derives from the Latin augere, to increase.” At The Guardian, Eleanor Catton discusses her inspiration for The Luminaries, which involved two years of research. Here’s our review of the finished product.

The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn’t been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska’s 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. “Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.”

The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn’t been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska’s 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. “Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.”

“A few years ago, when I first starting reading and writing about Dovlatov, I focused on the wickedly humorous side of Dovlatov’s deadpan. But a few years later, and a few more books into his body of work, I find myself more interested in that earnestness and regret — in Dovlatov the evolving man and artist, who crafted and, yes, honed a version of himself in his fiction that was just distorted enough to be true.” —

Sonya Chung, “Sergei Dovlatov: Gravity, Levity, and Love

Ian McEwan is going after religion in his latest novel. The Children Act will focus on the conflict of parents who refuse medical treatment for their children due to religious beliefs. You can expect the book in September.

Ian McEwan is going after religion in his latest novel. The Children Act will focus on the conflict of parents who refuse medical treatment for their children due to religious beliefs. You can expect the book in September.

“But I think, you know, sometimes, there’s a tendency — I think there’s a great temptation to sort of resist what it is you do naturally. And I think that in a way, because we all want to expand, we all want to grow, we all want to do as much as we can. But at the same time, I think we have to have some faith in what we can do, too. Because I think there’s a certain amount of value in what’s closest to you intuitively and what style and what, not so much material, but in terms of what vantage and what voice and what way of looking at the world is natural has some value as well.” — Mona Simpson in an interview with Claire Luchette,A Narrow Vantage: The Millions Interviews Mona Simpson

Apr 16

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“New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around. Rome says: enjoy me. London: survive me. New York: gimme all you got. What a thrilling proposition! The chance to be “all that you might be.” Such a thrill—until it becomes a burden. To put a face on—to put a self on—this had once been, for Miss Adele, pure delight. And part of the pleasure had been precisely this: the buying of things. She used to love buying things! Lived for it! Now it felt like effort, now if she never bought another damn thing again she wouldn’t even—” — Recommended Reading: The Paris Review has put its Zadie Smith short story “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets" online. "New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around.”