Nuovo slang, vecchio slang

Recently, we stumbled across this great thread at MetaFilter discussing current-sounding phrases that have been around for much longer than we think, so we did a little digging of our own to see which of our most everyday, contemporary slang words are actually rebranded anachronisms from the good old days. 
Cool – This is one of those words that never gets old, and it has what seems like a million slightly different connotations. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, its earliest slang meaning dates to 1728, to describe large sums of money, a usage still in circulation. It started to mean “calmly audacious” in 1825, and “fashionable” in 1933.
Hanging out — The colloquial usage of this extremely common contemporary term has been recorded as far as 1811.
Psyched — “Psych” has long been short for “psychology,” used by students in that way since 1895. In 1934 the phrase “psych out” came into parlance, and in 1968 one was finally able to get “psyched up.” flavorwire.


Nora Ephron

Con molta tristezza ho saputo della morte di Nora Ephron. Mi piaceva molto. La voglio ricordare con un racconto autobiografico - uscito il 5 giugno 2006 sul New Yorker - che mi ha sempre ispirato molto e che ogni tanto vado a rileggere. "In February, 1980, two months after the birth of my second child and the simultaneous end of my marriage, I fell madly in love with a huge apartment on the Upper West Side. It was on the fifth floor of the Apthorp, a famous stone pile on the corner of Broadway and 79th Street. The rent was $1500 a month, which, by Manhattan standards, was practically a bargain. In addition, I had to pay the previous tenant $24,000 in key money for the right to move in. The apartment had beautiful rooms; high ceilings; lots of light; two gorgeous fireplaces; and five bedrooms. I was planning to live there forever. Till death did us part. All stories about love begin with a certain amount of rationalization. After a few weeks, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else ...". Purtroppo per leggerlo tutto bisogna essere abbonati, comunque ecco il link newyorker.



Gideon Lewis-Kraus, A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful (Riverhead):
"Lewis-Kraus’s search for catharsis through meaningful wandering took him to Spain, for the Catholic pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela; to Japan, to walk a circuit of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the island of Shikoku; and to Ukraine, where he joined thousands of Hasidim (and his father) to visit Rabbi Nachman’s tomb in Uman. Harper’s put six questions to Lewis-Kraus about all of these places, and more", Christopher Cox intervista Gideon Lewis-Kraus, hapers.

Roy Steward su Bruce Chatwin, "The publication of Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines in 1987 transformed English travel writing; it made it cool. For the previous half century, travel writing seemed to consist either of grim, extended journeys through desolate landscapes or jokes about foreigners. And the leading figures—such as Wilfred Thesiger or Robert Byron—in their tweed suits were celebrated for neither their prose nor their charm. But Chatwin was as attractive as a person as he was as a writer", nybooks.


Gli 88 libri che hanno formato l'America

"Books That Shaped America" è il titolo di una mostra alla Library of Congress (Thomas Jefferson Building, dal 25 giugno al 29 settembre).
Ecco i primi dieci: 
1. Benjamin Franklin, Experiments and Observations on Electricity (1751)
2. Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard Improved (1758) and The Way to Wealth
3. Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)
4. Noah Webster, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language (1783)
5. The Federalist (1787)
6. A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible (1788)
7. Christopher Colles, A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America (1789)
8. Benjamin Franklin, The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D. (1793)
9. Amelia Simmons, American Cookery (1796)
10. New England Primer (1803). usatoday.


Martin Amis a Brooklyn

Martin Amis si è stabilito a Brooklyn - in una bellissima casa - con moglie e figlia. "When Mr. Amis and his second wife, the American writer Isabel Fonseca, 50, bought the 5,300-square-foot brownstone on Strong Place in Cobble Hill last year for $2.5 million, it was the most stunning infusion of macho literary firepower to the borough since Norman Mailer. The couple lives there with their teenage daughters, Fernanda and Clio. ... “One of the things I like about Brooklyn is you see Manhattan from a distance,” Mr. Amis said. “And it’s magnificent: what a work of man that is. And every time I see it ... And then you visit it and come back here”. nyt


Anatomy of Book Discovery

Come viene scoperto un libro dai lettori? goodreads traccia la mappa della progressione con cui The Power of Habit, di Charles Duhigg (Random House) - diventato un best-seller - è stato scoperto. goodreads.


How Should a Person Be

How Should a Person Be è il titolo del nuovo romanzo di Sheila Heti (Holt) e pare sarà il romanzo dell'estate. In Canada era uscito già due anni fa, ma solo ora è stato pubblicato negli USA. Ne parla - non entusiasticamente - James Wood sul New Yorker, mentre a tutti gli altri piace. Thessaly La Force, che G-chatta con la scrittrice, del romanzo dice, "In it, fictional Sheila struggles to answer the titular question through conversations with her friends (including Margaux, Misha, and Sholem), blowjobs, impulsive trips to Atlantic City and ... a whole lot more. The novel is a blend of the real and the imaginary—and somehow, in the process of recording her life, real Sheila blends into fictional Sheila, creating a work of metafiction that is playful, funny, wretched, and absolutely true". parisreview.


eBooks vs Hardcovers

Per la prima volta gli eBooks (in inglese) hanno superato gli hardcovers nelle vendite in tutto il mondo. Lo afferma l'American Association of Publishers. " ... the American Association of Publishers' latest report indicating that adult eBooks outpaced adult hardcovers in sales for the first time ever, $282.3M to $229.6M, in the first quarter of 2012. ... The good thing about the numbers, no matter which side of the digital divide you stand on, is that both categories saw an increase from last year—up 28.1% for eBooks and 2.7% for hardcovers". litreactor.


Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson e il New Yorker

Un lungo post di Frances Kiernan sui complicati rapporti tra Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson - allora suo marito (siamo verso la fine degli anni Trenta e forse un po' dopo, quando i due si erano già separati) - e un racconto di McCarthy che finalmente approda al New Yorker. Narrato con umorismo, il gusto per i particolari piccanti che hanno i pettegolezzi e mettendo in evidenza il carattere di paesone che aveva NYC in quegli anni, e in quegli ambienti. newyorker.


Means of Suppressing Demonstrations

"Means of Suppressing Demonstrations" è il titolo dell'intenso racconto di questa settimana del New Yorker. E' di Shani Boianjiiu, giovane scrittrice israeliana di talento. Interessanti anche le domande di Willing Davidson che la intervista. 

One of the great things in this story is the juxtaposition of desires: Lea suffers from an inability to want anything, whereas the Palestinian demonstrators want, perhaps, too much. How did you come up with this dynamic, and how did it evolve as you were writing?
I think being desireless is one of the lowest places a person can be, and I know that, for myself, when I was in that situation I was truly fascinated by people who wanted things—even if those people were actually in much worse situations than myself, even if the terrible situations those people were in created their ability to have strong desires. I needed the demonstrators to have some power over Lea, so that some of the bizarre events I was planning for the story could unfold. I felt that Lea’s respect for the demonstrators’ strong desires was a way to justify her giving in to some of their wild requests, because when you lack desire completely and see someone else who is able to want something badly, the temptation to gratify them can be very strong, no matter the circumstances. I think it is one of the stranger ways in which what people sometimes call compassion works.

e alla fine,

Could you recommend some Israeli writers that American readers might not be familiar with?
I would recommend Sara Shilo, Eli Amir, and Galila Ron-Feder Amit. newyorker.


I Hate Dreams

In un post sul New York Review of Books lo scrittore Michael Chabon fa un discorso sui sogni e l'arte piuttosto originale e anche divertente. "If art is a mirror, dreams are the back of the head. A work of art derives its effects from light, sound, and movement, but dreams unfurl in darkness, silence, paralysis. Like a recipe attempted in an ill-provisioned kitchen, “dreamlike” art relies on substitutions: dutch angles, forced perspective, absurdist juxtapositions, arbitrary transformations, and, as Peter Dinklage’s character points out in the film Living in Oblivion, a lamentable superabundance of dwarfs. Dreams in art either make sense, or they make no sense at all, but they never manage to do both at the same time, the way dreams do while we’re dreaming them". nybooks. P.S. Interessanti sono anche i commenti


Martin Amis e Olga Slavnikova

Martin Amis e Olga Slavnikova parlano della Russia, della letteratura russa contemporanea, dello stalinismo, in una conversazione molto interessante con Leonard Lopate
Olga Slavnikova: Stalin and Stalinism have a presence, unfortunately, in any Russian prose today.
Lopate: Even the prose of the young writers who grew up in the post-Soviet situation?
Slavnikova: Of course, yes, even for them. The fact is that my grandfather, Nicholas—when Stalin died he cried, he cried for the first time in his life. But he cried not because he was sorry for the great leader but because he no longer had the opportunity to kill him himself with his own gun. It is a whole family saga: my grandfather was repressed. He spent time in the camps. He was a natural marksmen. He literally, as the old hunters did, could hit a squirrel in the eye. And when he emerged from the camps he would hunt and he would hunt the biggest game Russia had to offer. One day I’ll write a book about it, but now I just want to say one thing: my grandfather’s story about the hunt made a great impression on me. Stalinism is not only what the state does; it’s also what the people do, how they react to what the state does. And the fact that the people really did participate in this—that they would demand that “enemies of the state” be dealt with—is also an important part of the whole situation. newyorker.


Piccole donne crudeli

E' quel che sostiene Deborah Weisgall: le piccole donne di Louisa May Alcott, non sono affatto le brave bambine che pensiamo (o ricordiamo).  "Little Women is brutal, a ferocious wolf dressed up in the curly white sermons and sentimental homilies of children’s stories. Though full of references to a kind and loving father, its fundamental faith lies not in God but in books: in life as a literary construct. It is a great and complicated work, Louisa May Alcott’s American response to English writers like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters who had posed similar questions about life and love and ambition. With its overt mix of autobiography and invention, Little Women is an enduring model for women’s stories, but it is rarely considered literature itself. It should be". prospect.


Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the collection “Native Guard,” was named U.S. Poet Laureate last Wednesday. Her poetic voice has deftly positioned her to inherit the laureate tradition and usher it into the future. Trethewey’s writing mines the cavernous isolation, brutality, and resilience of African American history, tracing its subterranean echoes to today. newyorker.


A pranzo con Moshe Safdie

Una bella intervista con l'archietetto israelo-canadese-americano Moshe Safdie sul significato della casa. "I put it to him that, even so, he was a long, long way from one of the founding fathers of modern architecture, Le Corbusier, and his credo, “A house is a machine for living in.”
“A house is not a machine!” he exclaimed. “It’s something else for living—but not a machine.”
“What is it?”
“That’s a good question.”
He thought for a few moments. “You know, there’s a good Hebrew word for it, mishkan.
He explained that in biblical terms it means a sacred place, a tabernacle, divinely inspired. (And there are rules laid down for building it.) But, for Moshe Safdie, the secular meaning of mishkan is a house—a sublime refuge midst the clamor of the world". vanityfair.


Le parole che ci mettono nei guai

James Fallows paragona le parole che potrebbero metterci nei guai - quando usate in Internet - nelle due grandi potenze del mondo, USA e Cina. Negli USA è pericoloso usare Domestic Security, Assassination, Attack... In Cina, Boobs, Facebook, Chinese people eating babies... theatlantic.


The Receptionist

The Receptionist è Janet Groth, receptionist al New Yorker dal 1957 al 1978, ed è il titolo di un libro appena uscito su quella sua esperienza (Algonquin Books), che contiene molti nomi e aneddoti piccanti. Perché, come dice lei stessa, "Before signing books, she was interviewed by Foster Hirsch, a film scholar and an old friend of hers, who claimed to be shocked by those parts of the memoir which treat her private life. She patiently explained what is held to be a tenet of book publishing: “In the parts where there aren’t any famous people, there has to be a lot of sex”. newyorker.


Mad Men

Per gli appassionati di Mad Men, un sito super intellettuale e notizie varie: "Since the beginning of Season Five, “Mad World,” a forum at the scholarly Web site Kritik, has been offering a lively if occasionally jargon-heavy discussion of the series, itself intended as an extended trailer for “Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960s,” a collection of essays coming from Duke University Press later this year.
The contributors aren’t the first academic types to problematize, interrogate and otherwise analyze the series, which has also inspired courses at Northwestern and Berkeley as well as at least one scholarly podcast. But they may be among the most willing to use terms like “diagetic.” nyt.


In difesa delle biblioteche

Un bell'articolo di Zadie Smith (che scrive molto bene) in difesa delle biblioteche. "What kind of a problem is a library? It’s clear that for many people it is not a problem at all, only a kind of obsolescence. At the extreme pole of this view is the technocrat’s total faith: with every book in the world online, what need could there be for the physical reality? This kind of argument thinks of the library as a function rather than a plurality of individual spaces. But each library is a different kind of problem and “the Internet” is no more a solution for all of them than it is their universal death knell". nybooks.


A Perfect Day for Bananafish

Maile Meloy - brava scrittrice - parla dei racconti di Salinger, che ha riletto varie volte, e nomina quelli che le sono piaciuti di più nelle varie letture. Mai "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". Peccato. "I’m pretty sure that “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” the opening story, will never be my favorite, but who knows? The collection reminds me of those pencil marks on the wall, recording childhood height: a way to measure how we become different people, over time". newyorker.


The Language Wars

Un paio di settimane fa è uscito sul New Yorker (che purtroppo leggo sempre in ritardo) una recensione interessante sul libro di Henry Hitchings, The Language Wars: A History of Proper English (FS&G), che racconta l'animata discussione tra linguisti prescrittrivi e descrittivi. "In the past half century or so, however, this situation [un generale permissivismo nei confronti della lingua] has produced a serious quarrel, political as well as linguistic, with two combatant parties: the prescriptivists, who were bent on instructing us in how to write and speak; and the descriptivists, who felt that all we could legitimately do in discussing language was to say what the current practice was". newyorker.


American Grown

Questa settimana escono i libri di due mogli "politiche":  Michelle Obama, American Grown (Crown), sull'orto organico della Casa Bianca, e Carole Geithner, moglie del Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, If Only (Scholastic Press), su una ragazzina "navigating a landscape of adolescent awkwardness in the wake of her mother’s death."  newyorkdailynews