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.
Chief among your more anxiety-producing kinds of literature is the genre of books geared towards expectant mothers. Examples of the genre offer every bit of advice imaginable — much of it contradictory — and condemn a laundry list of relatively common behaviors. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling recounts her own dive into the pregnancy-lit waters. This might also be a good time to read fellow staff writer Edan Lepucki on the perils of reading while expecting.
Following last year’s Pulitzer Prize, which Donna Tartt won for her first novel in eleven years, it means something when a critic draws a favorable comparison between The Goldfinch and a new book. For Laura Miller, though, it’s a natural reaction to the latest from Sarah Waters, which seems poised to “scratch the same big-novel itch” as Tartt’s novel did last year. (FYI, Sarah Waters wrote a Year in Reading entry for The Millions.)
Sometimes, it’s easier to read or watch something that’s light and airy, as opposed to seeking out art that challenges your perspective. Millions contributor Fiona Maazel generally thinks of herself as a person who instinctively chose nuance over breeziness. But lately, she’s had to ask herself a tough question — is she actually more attracted to the anodyne?
Last week, I wrote about Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey’s joint book tour, which sees the two driving a Prius across America to promote their latest novels. Now, in their latest dispatch, they reflect on the differences between writers like themselves and midcentury writers like Andre Dubus and Norman Mailer.
In addition to just wanting to spend a lot of time together, we had some questions we hoped this trip might answer, questions we hope to chew over here, in near-daily posts: What does the Great American Road trip look like in 2014? Is it true that the book tour is as good as dead, a waste of time? Is this about selling books or something less tangible? What will we see as we cut a line through the center of a recession-slammed America? Can we sit in a car together for 13,000 minutes and come out better buddies, or will one of us, probably somewhere in Utah, turn to the other and mutter, ‘I really really wish I could quit you’?
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
Like characters in a somewhat less swashbuckling Jack London novel, these are all characters, and writers, who are grappling with their environments.
Junot Díaz has criticized MFA programs for being “too white.” So what’s on his syllabi? Salon found the syllabi for the two courses Díaz teaches at MIT. In his fantasy world-building class, students read everyone from Bram Stoker to Octavia Butler. His advanced fiction course includes stories by Edwidge Danticat and Roberto Bolaño. Where can we sign up?