paper trail

Emily Gould on Dodie Bellamy’s “The Letters of Mina Harker”; Clive Thompson’s tool for visualizing punctuation style

The punctuation marks of this Paper Trail post, repeated.

The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center has launched a Black studies digital catalogue called the #SchomburgSyllabus. The catalogue is meant as a reference guide, and covers twenty-seven topics such as Health & Medical Racism, Monuments, Politicians & Elections, Black Feminism, and Writers & Literature.

For the Paris Review, Emily Gould writes about Dodie Bellamy’s The Letters of Mina Harker, which blends Bellamy’s voice with the fictive Dodie’s and the character of Mina Harker. “The overall impression,” Gould writes, “is of a huge box of tangled jewelry dumped out onto the bed, some of it tarnished, some of it obviously fake, but with precious gems mixed in and not always readily apparent. At the time of my first reading, I didn’t have the patience to sift. It had not yet occurred to me that the pile itself could be the treasure.”

The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitri A. Muratov in recognition of “their courageous fight for freedom of expression.” Both journalists are founders of independent news outlets in their countries: Ressa co-founded Rappler in the Philippines and Muratov is a founder of Novaya Gazeta in Russia.

Clive Thompson, technology writer and author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, has created a tool that strips writing of everything except punctuation as a way to visualize style. Thompson was inspired by Adam J. Calhoun, who in 2016 used code to visualize the punctuation style of novels, noting, for example, the stark difference between Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Thompson was curious to examine his own quirks—the evidence shows he has a penchant for lengthy parentheticals that include multiple sentences and exclamation points.

In The Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz reviews a new biography of W. G. Sebald, and considers the ethics of how he used factual source material in his fictions: “Sebald usurped a lot of lives, and he didn’t always ask permission.”

The New Yorker festival concludes this weekend with events featuring Patricia Lockwood, Jon Stewart, Aimee Mann, Letitia James, and contributors to a new anthology, The Matter of Black Lives.