Catching Up #2

  • Liz Brown reviews a new biography of Emily Post for the Los Angeles Times: “Claridge tracks Emily’s rise from vivacious debutante to poised but neglected society wife and mother against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, deftly tucking in such capsule anecdotes as the déclassé Vanderbilts vying for high-society acceptance and instructions for preparing terrapin, which includes a directive one isn’t likely to forget: ‘Remove the skin from the feet.’ “

  • Interviewed about his forthcoming book How to Live, Henry Alford admits to thinking, as he accompanied his mother to buy a Chiquita banana costume, “I bet Joan Didion doesn’t do this kind of research.” Bonus: On his new blog, Henry deconstructs Louise Bourgeois’s love of spirals.

  • At Slate, Christine Kenneally reviews Henry Hitchings’s history of English (which I reviewed not long ago for the now-defunct New York Sun) along with books on English by John McWhorter, Mark Abley, David Crystal, Roy Blount Jr., and Ammon Shea: “It’s hard to resist the urge to pick a particular kind of animal as the perfect emblem for English. McWhorter says it’s a dolphin among deer. He calls German, Dutch, Yiddish, Danish, and other close English relatives antelopes, springbok, and kudu. English has evolved so far away from the basic language body plan, he says, that it swims underwater and echolocates.”