Words

A Book Reviewer’s Lament

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“I really resent being told by swathes and swathes of people – and not just people, but people who ostensibly like books and read them – that a book is good, only to obtain it and find myself confronted with free-market capitalism funneled into something completely unremarkable, and I also really resent the alienation that goes along with that.”

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Literary Culture Needs A Poptimism Revolution

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“Lots of people who are professionally writing about books are also snobs, and snobs to the point that they won’t even consider what the specific alchemy and magic is that makes something like 50 Shades of Grey save the book industry for a year.”

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The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash

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“[Paul] Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike’s garbage – a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls ‘the other John Updike archive,’ … and it raises fundamental questions about celebrity, privacy, and who ultimately determines the value and scope of an artist’s legacy.”

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Against [Whatever] (Susan Sontag Has A Lot To Answer For)

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“In recent years, there has been an ‘Against [X]‘ epidemic: against young-adult literature, against interpretation, against method, against theory, against epistemology, against happiness, against transparency, against ambience, against heterosexuality, against love, against exercise, etc. The form announces a polemic – probably a cranky one, and very likely an unfair one.” Exhibit A: Sontag’s “Against Interpretation,” from 1964.

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Robert Hass Wins $100,000 Poetry Prize

robert hass

The UC-Berkeley professor and former MacArthur Fellow, “who served as poet laureate of the United States in the mid-1990s, and won a National Book Award in 2007 and a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, has now also won the Wallace Stevens Award, a $100,000 cash stipend given by the Academy of American Poets, an organization founded in 1934 to foster an appreciation for American poetry.”

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Google Wins Dismissal Of German Publishers’ Suit

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“A German regulator handed Google Inc a victory on Friday as it said it would not pursue a complaint brought against the internet search engine operator by a group of publishers for giving users access to their news articles.”

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Menus, Language, And Price

menu words

“‘Every increase of one letter in the average length of words describing a dish is associated with an increase of 69 cents in the price of that dish.’ Compared with inexpensive restaurants, the expensive ones are ‘three times less likely to talk about the diner’s choice’ (your way, etc.) and ‘seven times more likely to talk about the chef’s choice’.”

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Hemingway for Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton’s Flash Fiction Ads

hemingway for hotels

“It could almost be a writing workshop prompt: tell a story, do it in six words, go for the wow effect – and that’s exactly what the Ritz-Carlton wants. Recently, the hotel company launched a campaign inviting social media friends and followers to provide six-word stories about their Ritz-Carlton experiences with the hashtag #RCMemories.”

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Pulp Thrillers In Egypt And The State Of The Egyptian Nation

egyptian pulp

“The golden age of illicit crime fiction translation – from the 1890s through the 1960s – corresponds to the construction of the Egyptian nation, from colonial rule and monarchy to President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization project. … And now, as authorities attempt to restore law and order, the crime genre is making a comeback.”

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Sympathy For The Devil: Laura Miller Feels Bad For Amazon, Sort Of

Earns Radio Shack

“Lately Amazon has become the Goofus of publishing news, the surly, inconsiderate and gauche kid who never seems to get anything right. … Its pronouncements come in Amazonspeak, a language bred in a corporate echo chamber and the cheerleading threads of its self-publisher forums.”

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“Urlo” – Translating Ginsberg’s “Howl” Into Italian

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“In their letters, Ginsberg answers [the translator's] questions about ‘Kaddish’ and other poems, describing his mother’s ‘paranoiac complaints … used as surreal fragments’; defining cultural references (‘Woody Woodpecker is an allied cartoon character, hero of a series of cartoon disasters in technicolor’); explaining how ‘the LSD poem’ was ‘written at Stanford’s Mental Health Experimental Lab’.”

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A Place Beyond Words: The Literature Of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimers

“As baby boomers approach their seventies and Alzheimer’s disease becomes increasingly commonplace, more and more fiction writers are attempting to reach into that obscure space. … Because the full, internal experience of Alzheimer’s is an account that fiction alone can deliver, … [this is a good time] to reassess the burgeoning genre and determine what its writers can and can’t tell us.”

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