When a novel is printed in multiple countries, it often has more than one editor. Slate interviews Emma Donoghue; her American editor, Judy Clain; and her Canadian editor, Iris Tupholme, about how they all edited Frog Music. They discuss everything from how to deal with editing disputes to the best way to get edits. “I much prefer to get everyone’s opinions separately, because if I got a single editorial letter, it would be like getting a note from God!” Donoghue says. For more on the editing process, read about our own Edan Lepucki’s relationships with her copy editor and editor.
What would The Road look like as a children’s book? The question is vaguely unsettling, but Jerry Puryear set out to answer it anyway, drawing up detailed mockups of literary children’s books and posting them on his Tumblr. At Slate, a selection of his book covers. (This might be a good time to look back on our US-UK Book Cover Battle.)
The data lying behind this graphic reflects some of the biggest changes in the history of English. Today, English borrows from other languages with a truly global sweep. For instance, borrowing from Japanese has shot up over the past hundred years. Words like judo, sushi, or tsunami have broken through into the vocabulary familiar to everyone. If we look back to the 1800s, Latin, French, Greek, and German are much more dominant. This owes a great deal to the specialist vocabularies of science, technology, and learning; compare for example oxygen, borrowed from French (but formed from elements of Greek origin), or paraffin, borrowed from German (but formed from elements of Latin origin).
Why does the new Liam Neeson film use a hyphen in its title? According to AP Style, “nonstop” is one word, yet the film is marketed stateside with a hyphen stuck in the middle. At Slate, L.V. Anderson looks into a typographic mystery.
When did Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell traces the history of the phrase. “Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to ‘think different’ or ‘work smarter’ or ‘just do it.’”
Oh, I will answer to my mother for such bad Southern manners—to speak at length of a woman’s age—but it is worth admiring such productivity and longevity. Spencer’s generation of Southern writers, born in the 1920s after the fact of William Faulkner and the Agrarians, have one way or another put down their pens: Ellen Douglas, Truman Capote, James Dickey, William Styron, and the two ladies who are still with us, Shirley Ann Grau and Harper Lee. If Flannery O’Connor were still alive today she would be 88, younger than Elizabeth Spencer.