No menu will ever be the same. In his new book The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky, a MacArthur fellow and professor of linguistics and computer science at Stanford, peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know.
The Atlantic just highlighted Jurafsky’s findings after analyzing 6,500 restaurant menus. After you discover the linguistic divide between Per Se and Pizza Hut, enter to win The Language of Food on Goodreads.
Dr. Peter Piot co-discovered Ebola in 1976 (and wrote a book about it in 2012 called No Time To Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses). He just spoke to Christiane Amanpour on CNN about what makes this Ebola outbreak different from all the others before it. Dr. Piot is most surprised the outbreak is happening in capital cities as opposed to more remote areas.
Watch the interview.
In a proto-goth move, newly liberated teens—as well as yearning for sex and childhood—developed a taste for “death discs” around 1960/61, possibly prompted by the early demise of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Eddie Cochran. Mark Dinning’s “Teen Angel” (girlfriend dies on a railroad track) and Ray Peterson’s “Tell Laura I Love Her” (boyfriend dies in a stock-car race) were huge hits, but the “death disc” monster was John Leyton’s “Johnny Remember Me,” the most thrilling, feverish pop record Britain had yet produced—the drums galloped and the skies darkened as Leyton’s echo-choked voice mourned the girl he “loved and lost a year ago.”
From Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé by Bob Stanley, out now in hardcover and ebook.
Things are getting spooky over on storyofpop.
Cover to Cover: Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank
Should your ideal book be best described as ‘peculiar’ or perhaps ‘containing tentacles’ then Preparing the Ghost is for you. At first glance, this book is the real-life story of Harvey Moses, who, in 1874, obtained a dead giant squid from some fishermen and paid them to deliver it to his house. He draped the squid over his bathtub and a local photographer took the first known photo of what until then had been largely considered a mythical creature. Yet that event is only one layer of this delightfully strange book. Matthew Gavin Frank is a Renaissance man and he treats his reader to an assortment of strange facts, ideas, and connections (plus, you discover words like ‘scapulimancy’). You will learn about the giant squid and people who search for it, as well as about how calamari came to be an item on American menus, how ice cream gained popularity, and where latex comes from (no, not from a squid). Frank’s breadth of interests makes this small volume contain not only history, memoir, travelogue, but a philosophical study on myth-making and myth-destroying as well.
Preparing the Ghost is itself like an antique photograph—vaguely disturbing and fascinating, with a complex story behind a single image. It is an autopsy report of sorts for the giant squid and its place in our imagination. The fact that it was dead and that there was now a photo of it did not make the giant squid any less mythical. Frank’s own obsession with the animal and people who hunted it becomes most apparent towards the end, when the book turns on itself. The author questions his own descriptions of what transpired when Harvey Moses obtained the squid. Frank writes his own myths and, in turn, inspires a whole new wave of obsession (ourselves included).
“Preparing the Ghost is the most original book I have read in years.”
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Dora: A Headcase
I’ve seen Rachel’s beaming face holding a lot of different books, and on Friday afternoon it was strange indeed — and amazing — to scroll through Tumblr and see my book in her hands. Her copy made it to her faster in New York than it did to me in Cambridge, and I came home yesterday to find a package from Norton with two copies, two galleys of the book. What a thing to hold. It’s gonna be a book. Coming March, 2015.
It’s so good, you guys!
In which Nina (carpentrix) asks and answers the eternal question: “How do we decide what’s right for our own lives.” Coming March 2015. Pre-ordering begins now!
Day 12 : Underrated Book
Back in May 2009, Edan Lepucki (author of California) interviewed Joe Meno for The Millions…
EDAN LEPUCKI: One of my favorite aspects of [The Great Perhaps] is the humor and tragedy with which you depict the teenage lives of Thisbe and Amelia. At one point, Thisbe prays, “Dear Lord… let the wire in my bra poke through my heart,” which is just, well, awesome. Are you, in fact, a teenage girl in disguise? How did you get inside these complicated – and very different – young minds?
JOE MENO: I am not, in fact, a teenage girl. But I am writer which is pretty darn close. Amelia was based somewhat on someone I knew and worked with, at least as a starting point. As I was working on her character, I realized how angry and unappealing she seemed and so I felt like I no choice but to add some humor to temper her rancor. Thisbe, in secret, is kind of my favorite character in the book. Although she is really confused and definitely a kind of zealot, what she really wants is to make sense of her family and herself and her feelings towards Roxie, a classmate. I think she’s a pretty fair example of why evangelical Christianity is so appealing to some, because in the end, it’s based on a search for understanding through love. This is also why it is so insidious and threatening as well. Like Thisbe, trying to oversimplify the world only undercuts what seems so miraculous about life in the first place.
Keep reading Edan’s interview with Joe Meno on The Millions…