What’s the conversion rate between periods and commas? The history of the use of punctuation. I’m in the bag with George Bernard Shaw in regard to his opinion about apostrophes: There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of peppering pages with these uncouth bacilli. From the Guardian.
Are Geniuses Geniuses before they get a grant? Or do geniuses get grants because they are geniuses? These (inane) questions aren’t answered by the MacArthur Fellowship, but the new class was announced which includes Ben Lerner and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. A full list from the MacArthur website.
Blurbs: The Blubber of Publishing. Did you know the first recorded blurb was by Emerson for Whitman’s Leaves of Grass? A hidden surprise: a tumblr dedicated to Gary Shteyngart’s blurbing obsession. From NPR.
Wednesday was International Translation Day. And if I knew that before writing this post, I might’ve sent unsolicited letters of gratitude to Edith Grossman, Suzanne Jill Levine, Chris Andrews, and Megan McDowell (personal favorites). Sadly, this holiday wasn’t automatically included in my parochial, insular iPhone calendar. In a late celebration, here’s an article about Robert Walser and his microscopic translations. From the Paris Review.
And for those whose eyes are tired, here’s a Radiolab episode from long ago, concerned with the art of translation.
On a sadder note, Carmen Balcells, a literary super-agent who almost single-handedly orchestrated the Latin American Literary Boom in the sixties and seventies, died just over a week ago. She brought attention to such writers as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa, among others. She was called “Big Mama. An obituary of sorts was printed in the New Yorker.
And to end on an eccentric note, here’s an article about the Theory of Hair. Make of it what you will. From the New Republic.