She’s fly, she’s fresh, she’s def

In 1979, after he met Jackie O, Bruce Chatwin wrote to his wife, Elizabeth,

Escorting Mrs Onassis to the opera next Thursday. Met her again with the John Russells, and my God she’s fly.1

Best description of Mrs. Onassis ever? I think so. I was surprised to learn that this connotation of “fly” was of so early a vintage, but a writer in a discussion at Metafilter found an even earlier occurence in an O. Henry story of the first decade of the 20th century.

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Of the making of books etc. etc.

I’m alternately humbled and/or driven to despair when I discover entire literary ecologies I never knew existed before. According to Wikipedia, in 2001, 102 Romanian critics chose Mateiu Caragiale‘s Craii de Curtea-Veche as the “best Romanian novel of the twentieth century.” Apparently, Caragiale criticism is practically a cottage-industry in Romania. As far as I can tell today, however, none of his work has been translated into English. Note to NYRB Books: Get on this.