When Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking nearly four years ago, it was immediately met with acclaim. The book criticizes schools and other key institutions for primarily accommodating extroverts and such individuals’ “need for lots of stimulation.” Much to introverts’ relief, it also seeks to raise awareness about the personality type, particularly among those who’ve struggled to understand it.
A couple of weeks ago I saw David Crystal give an after-dinner speech at the august annual conference of the Society of Indexers and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. In it, he recalled having been an adviser on Lynne Truss’s radio programme about punctuation. She told him she was thinking of writing a book on the subject. He advised her not to: “Nobody buys books on punctuation.” “Three million books later,” he said, “I hate her.”
Over the last few years, America’s for-profit college industry has come under increasing scrutiny, and in some cases, legal action. According to critics, programs offered by schools like Corinthian and its subsidiaries, scam students into expensive but ultimately worthless degree programs that leave them with high rates of loan default and low rates of graduate job placement. In the comic below, we meet some of these students — and the activists and organizers who support them — who, fed up with the slow response from the Department of Education, found one another online and decided to fight back against such loans…by refusing to pay them back.
Via Steve Crandall.
Some weeks ago, during a bleary-eyed subway ride to work, I found myself staring at a young woman on the other side of the car. She wore business attire with a North Face jacket and flip-flops, and she had an infinity symbol tattooed along the outside of her left foot, only a portion of the loop had been left out to make room for the word Love. Next to her, a scruffy guy in t-shirt and jeans had ornate black and gray murals inked on each arm, one of which seemed to depict an alien fight scene, the other some sort of robot love story. To his left, squeezed in at the end of the bench, was a man thumbing his phone with quick, nervous jabs. When he turned his hand over, I saw the word Jasmine tattooed above his knuckles and a date printed beneath it.
One enterprising publisher in particular, Carlos Barral, who headed a press called Seix Barral, based in Barcelona, saw an opportunity. He presented a dense annual catalogue, with descriptions that were designed to anticipate the dictates of the censors while emphasizing—and exaggerating—his reach into international markets. He created a series of prizes to manufacture prestige for edgier contemporary works that otherwise might have piqued the regime’s censors, and he awarded the Latin Americans he hoped to publish (Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera Infante) as a way of putting them in distinguished international company (Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett). He hired Balcells to round out his portfolio of foreign writers. Her special charge was to take care of foreign rights, which she diligently sold in the world’s major cultural capitals (Rome, New York, Paris, London). Before Balcells got to work, publishing houses in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Havana comprised a rough and disconnected patchwork of regional pockets short on scope and visibility. Her advocacy helped change that, bringing writers more fully into view.