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Jeremy B. Jones

In college—my first extended time away from home—I found myself suddenly caught up in the phrase, “in the mountains.” When I’d try to tell people where I was from, I’d finally offer an explanation: back in the mountains. It was the preposition that struck me. I wasn’t from on a mountain. I didn’t exist upon them or around them, behind or in front. I lived in—inside—those mountains.

Moving the Furniture in his Brain: An Interview with Thomas Pletzinger and Ross Benjamin

Diana Thow

Thomas Pletzinger’s debut novel Funeral for a Dog (Norton, 2011), translated from the German by Ross Benjamin, is an expansive, lyrical double portrait of two writers: the journalist Daniel Mandelkern and the elusive children’s book author Dirk Svensson, whom Mandelkern travels to  interview at Svensson’s home on Lago di Lugano. To answer the novel’s initial questions—Who exactly is Daniel Mandelkern? Who exactly  is Dirk Svensson?— we cross three continents and navigate five languages; we spend time on a basketball court in New York City’s West Village, in a motorboat hovering over the deepest, quietest part of Lago di Lugano, and at a cockfight in Sao Paolo, where the winning bird is named William Wordsworth.

Very cool profile of Matthew Carter

Russell Valentino

Probably an odd thing to put in a blog post (though no odder than naming a blog 'Paper cuts'): This from a recent profile in The Economist about the creator of the fonts Georgia and Verdana: "Mr Carter doesn't own an iPad, Kindle, or other reading device, as he is waiting for them to mature. (He does own an iPhone.) He frets that, as things stand, reading devices and programs homogenise all the tangible aspects of a book, like size or shape, as well as font. They are also poor at hyphenation and justification: breaking words at lexically appropriate locations, and varying the spacing between letters and between words. This may sound recondite but it is a visual imprint of principles established over the entire written history of a language.

Bad Sex, LOLcat lit, and the hardliners on language change

Russell Valentino

This news: Rowan Somerville's novel The Shape of Her won the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award "for a scene in which a nipple is likened to the upturned 'nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing in the night,'" Bloomberg reported. The author nabbed the U.K.'s "most dreaded literary prize" by besting a shortlist that included Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean, Neel Mukherjee's A Life Apart, Craig Raine's Heartbreak, Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap, Alastair Campbell's Maya, and Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross. "There is nothing more English than bad sex, so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you," Somerville said in his acceptance speech.

Translation from Tripoli

Russell Valentino

“Shakespeare somewhere compares a woman’s face to sunshine in July,” said Dr. Ramadan. “She must have been very hot.” He was joking, of course, from a North African point of view, and being a little provocative, from a translator’s: if you were translating that into Arabic, should you change the month to April, or better yet, March? He suggested that even a Libyan November would be more pleasantly evocative than July. “She would be all sweaty then,” he said. Earlier in the day, Dr. Jamal, clearly troubled by my insistence that creating the authorial image in the receiving culture is in the translator’s hands, asked me if I thought it was okay to “change the author’s words.” Before I could answer, his colleague from Algeria, Dr. Rafa, came to my defense to point out that Arabic translators, and maybe Dr.


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