Critical Linking: October 12, 2013

You can find any number of devotees to rhapsodize about Munro’s work, and chances are that if you are the sort of reader to heed their arguments, you have already read it and don’t need me to explain it to you. But if instead you are, like me, a reader resistant to the type of fiction Munro writes, then the praise of Jonathan Franzen or James Wood or Francine Prose is probably not going to change your mind. On the other hand, you might just listen to me, someone who once shared your resistance, when I tell you that, this time around, the Swedish Academy has gotten it right.

Laura Miller and I don’t always see eye to eye, but I’m right there with her on this one.

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But I have my limits. Articles, resumes, professional work — standard English only, please. In domains like that, I’m a hawk on spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you don’t know the difference between your and you’re, its and it’s, affect and effect, I’m rigidly intolerant. I let myself get away with murdering the English language in an email, but for a job applicant I treat it like a capital crime.

Standard English FTW!

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Longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may have whiffed on the smartphone craze, fumbled its tablet projects, and sucked the creative spirit out of the company’s corporate culture. But when it came to spouting buzzwords and jargon, the man was a titan. And in a dazzling and deeply moving final letter to shareholders, which Microsoft made public this week, Ballmer delivered one final, triumphant master class in the art of sounding important while saying absolutely nothing.

It always good to have an example of how not to write.

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