Bob Eckstein offers watercolor-style portraits, with anecdotes, of the likes of Coliseum Books, Scribners, Shakespeare & Co., and Forbidden Planet.
“The desirability of new technology, or even Amazon’s effective use of that technology, is not the issue. After all, John D. Rockefeller and his associates were pretty good at the oil business, too — but Standard Oil nonetheless had too much power, and public action to curb that power was essential. And the same is true of Amazon today.”
“The books and conversation also serve as a continuation of my education. Not only do I feel an intense connection with my earlier, often more vulnerable and intensely curious self, I also feel that I’ve been given access to a pure form of the complications involved with being young, now filtered through the compassion, perceptions (and barnacles) of my older self.”
The George W. Hunt Prize, sponsored by the Jesuit magazine America and Yale’s St. Thomas More Chapel, stipulates that nominees “should be familiar with the Roman Catholic tradition … [and] be a person of sound moral character and reputation and must not have published works that are manifestly atheistic or morally offensive.” (Good luck to the jurors on hashing that out.)
“As soon as the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced on Thursday, people started asking the inevitable question: Who is Patrick Modiano? … Here, let’s raise another question: Why is it that, so often, when a Nobel Prize is awarded to a non-American writer, readers in the U.S. – even the most well-read and cosmopolitan among us – find themselves drawing a blank?”
“It had always been the place where dopers gathered to gaze at photos of 9-foot-tall plants and truncheon-sized joints; to advertise their homemade pipeware; and, not least, to flip their collective bird at the man. … But lately weed doesn’t feel all that countercultural. And fewer weed smokers self-identify as outlaws. … Does the world still need High Times when square-ass Slate is running vape reviews?” Totally, say the editors.
Peter Carey: “I find it unimaginable that the Pulitzer or the National Book award people in the United States would ever open their prizes to Brits and Australians. They wouldn’t. … The old Booker had a particular cultural flavour. … There was and there is a real Commonwealth culture. It’s different. America doesn’t really feel to be a part of that.”
“There are a lot of college writing textbooks that will include essays and short stories, and after reading the story or essay, there will be questions such as ‘Have YOU Had any experience with a pedophile in YOUR family?’ or ‘When was the last time you saw YOUR mother drunk?’ and they’re just really good at prompting stories.”
“From Marguerite Duras, I learned that fragmentation is a way of breaking something so that it can describe something the whole cannot. From Christa Wolf, that inserting yourself and the circumstances of your life into a myth can transform the myth and your sense of yourself. I learned the power of prosody from Toni Morrison.”
“The Americans who turned up in the 1950s were escaping from a repressive society where homosexuality was outlawed. In Morocco, attitudes were much more relaxed and, provided they were discreet, Westerners could indulge their desires, without fear of harassment, with a limitless supply of young locals in need of money, and smoke an equally limitless supply of the local cannabis.”
“Mary Rasenberger is a partner in the law firm Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard and has an extensive background in intellectual property and technology. The Guild has been involved in numerous copyright battles, including a lawsuit against Google over the search engine’s program of scanning snippets of published material.”
“You might have experienced Modiano’s work without realizing it: He co-wrote the scripts for Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien (1974) and Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Bon Voyage (2003). But Modiano’s novels are worth reading as well: subtle, rhythmic, and hypnotic investigations into the self and its memory – the perfect thing for the mournful indoor months.”
Philip Gourevitch: “It has been more than a half century since any such recognition – a half century that has seen an explosion of great documentary writing in all forms and lengths and styles, and yet there is a kind of lingering snobbery in the literary world that wants to exclude nonfiction from the classification of literature – to suggest that somehow it lacks artistry, or imagination, or invention by comparison to fiction.”
“In an ideal world, we’d all learn to use one language for science, technology and business, and learn, respect and use others for cultural identity and a sense of community — especially in our polyglot nation. That requires some flexibility in how languages themselves are developed. We need to be more adaptable and sensitive to other cultures as we use language.”
“Prominent nonfiction writers like Ms. Hillenbrand, Jon Meacham and Rick Atkinson are now grappling with how to handle unsettling or controversial material in their books as they try to win over this impressionable new audience. And these slimmed-down, simplified and sometimes sanitized editions of popular nonfiction titles are fast becoming a vibrant, growing and lucrative niche.”