paper trail

Dec 20, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Amy Hempel

From the Vice fiction issue, an interview with Amy Hempel: “I never liked the term 'minimalism.' I prefer Raymond Carver’s term. He called Mary Robison and myself 'precisionists.' And that’s what he was doing too, of course.”

It has been only a few days since Google announced their Books NGram Viewer, a tool that allows you to graph word usage over the years, drawn from millions of digitized books, and there’s already been a bit of NGram fever. Some of the most interesting inquiries have been posed by Slate’s Tom Scocca, who’s discovered when television became more popular than the bible (around 1967), and when anxiety overtook shame (1942), as well as other watershed moments in American vocabulary (1992: The year jeans surpassed trousers). But does the F-word reveal inaccuracies in the underlying data, causing skewed results?

If you haven’t picked up your copy of the new Paris Review yet, they have an irresistible new video trailer featuring monster truck-vocals, flashy graphics, and hilariously gaudy pyrotechnics; if that doesn’t convince you, they’ve also put together an Oprah/Franzen video that captures the epic scale of that recent reunion (Franzen is interviewed in the new issue).

At The Millions, New York magazine’s Sam Anderson gives us his Year in Marginalia, which he describes as “spontaneous bursts of pure, private response to whatever book happens to be in front of me. It’s the most intimate, complete, and honest form of criticism possible,” including candid off-the-cuff takes on passages from Point Omega (“right on the border of stoner existentialism”), The Lacuna (“I like this ending—don’t ruin it!”), and Freedom (“OMG! Rolling eyes so hard!”), among others. It’s the perfect capstone for the blog’s superb Year in Reading series, which we return to every day, despite our end-of-the-year-list fatigue. And, Melville House likes the idea so much they’re holding a Marginalia Contest.