Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.
"The voice at the center of Bright Lights, Big City may be spoiled and petulant, but it also is unmistakably American: fatally romantic, distrustful of authority, and democratic to a fault, even as it sounds its barbaric yawp over the rooftop parties of the world.” Our own Michael Bourne on Jay McInerney’s novel of the eighties.
"Though the pages of My Salinger Year are lousy with writers, at heart this is a book about readers, professional and unprofessional, who hunger for communion with the remote and often troubled authors they revere.” - Michael Bourne reviews My Salinger Year and a literary world now lost.
"If One Story Collected is a stethoscope to the heart of contemporary American fiction, the news is good: despite a run of economic shocks to the publishing industry, the muscle that pumps fresh blood into the system is still beating like a tom-tom.”
How do you write poems about a culture that has been erased from history and one you don’t fit into? Tess Taylor delved into the complications of her Southern family’s past for The Forage House and attempted to excavate the unwritten parts of their history. “The non-writing down of people is intensely violent,” she told The Oxford American in a recent interview. Pair with: Our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the collection and its implications.
If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
If anything, Taylor is even more adamant about the need for white writers to examine their own history. “There’s this intense fear that if white people talk about race, they’re going to get it wrong, and therefore there’s a kind of a default position where white people don’t want to talk about race or racism or racial knowledge,” she says. “The side effect of not wanting to get it wrong is sometimes just silencing the stories of things that we know and not allowing ourselves to talk at all. I think that silence itself is part of the problem.”