The Mekong Review is published out of Sydney, partly to avoid some censorship, and despite a tiny staff and a patchy delivery system, it’s doing well: “The magazine punches above its weight: Its contributors include some of the best-known authors, journalists and academics who follow the region, including Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, and Emma Larkin, the pseudonym for a Bangkok-based American writer who has published several nonfiction books on Myanmar.”
Involving more senses probably helps. “The authors suggest that reading things aloud involves different types of processing, which makes it more active and engages us more than reading silently.”
“I don’t usually write about sex. I’m kind of a person who wouldn’t. By the time I’m on page 50 or 60, I sense, ‘Okay, this has been a wonderful fantasy, but stop.’ Something told me not to stop. … I said, ‘No, I want them to have fun. I want them to be sexual.'”
The publications are among the 10,000 titles banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a list that includes best sellers like “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “A Time to Kill” and even obscure works, such as the “MapQuest Road Atlas.” Not banned: “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler and books by white nationalists, including David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. They are also prohibited from reading the pop-up edition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “The Color Purple” and the 1908 Sears, Roebuck catalog.
A set of Orange County business types closed on the purchase pf the alt-weekly on Wednesday; the very same day, the entire editorial staff except one writer was laid off. The new guy in charge says he and the new owners are socially liberal libertarians and that the left-leaning editorial stance of the Weekly won’t change, but …
“In January, when the site moves over to a blockchain, Everipedia will convert IQ scores to a token-based currency, giving all existing editors an allotment proportionate to their IQ—and giving them a real, financial stake in Everipedia. From then on, creating and curating articles will allow users to earn tokens, which act as virtual shares of the platform. To prevent bad actors from trying to cash in with ill-founded or deliberately false articles and edits, Everipedia will force users to put up a token of their own in order to submit. If their work is accepted, they get their token back, plus a little bit for their contribution; if not, they lose their token. The assumption is that other users, motivated by the desire to maintain the site’s value, will actively seek to prevent such efforts.”
“To me, the keystone of the phrase ‘the great American novel’ is not the word American but the word great. Greatness, in the sense of outstanding or unique accomplishment, is a cryptogendered word. In ordinary usage and common understanding, ‘a great American’ means a great American man, ‘a great writer’ means a great male writer. … It makes perfect sense to me that I’ve never heard a woman writer say she intended, or wanted, to write the great American novel.”
Lorin Stein, 44, stepped down following an internal investigation by the magazine’s board into complaints from female staffers and freelance writers – an investigation that started when Stein told board members that he was on the notorious online list of “Shitty Media Men.”
“Nothing seems to disturb Egypt’s ruling cadres more than the written word. The recent litany of bans and shutdowns, including blocking hundreds of web pages online, illustrates what Cambridge University’s Khaled Fahmy, a prolific historian of the Middle East, called “an alarmist moment of crisis,” one in which Egypt’s authoritarian state of emergency laws have turned something as simple as reading into a dangerous act.”
“Since [Cassandra Clare’s] City of Bones, which published 10 years ago, authors … have made young adult novels a place where queer love stories feel mainstream rather than an exception to the rule. And they’re about far more than coming out. The new generation of LGBT young-adult literature has room for romance, inclusion and happily-ever-after.”
“Judging someone by their book cover is no longer an option. Every person has a story, and the more people I speak with, the more I see this great human storyline emerging that connects us. I wonder what actually divides us, when there are so many things we have in common. We all want to be seen. We all want to be understood. We all want to be free.”
There were practical reasons for reading books aloud. “Domestic lighting was primitive, and prohibitively expensive. Why strain the eyes with insufficient light and small print when a single person with a well-lit book could do the work of many?” Also, eyeglasses were rare until late in the 18th century, so it made sense for a person with good eyesight to read to people whose eyesight was poor. And reading aloud was a way of entertaining others—including people who were illiterate and could not read for themselves—while they were doing housework.
Yes, one expert says, what you might suspect is the reason actually is the reason: “It all goes back to Harry Potter.”
Always a mystery. Sure, sure, some of the books were only (we are being sarcastic here) reviewed by daily book critics, not in the New York Times Book Review, but seriously, NYT, WYD?
Aside from Hillary Clinton’s memoir – which sold well for any kind of book, not just a political book – things are kind of grim, maybe because “leveraging a massive publicity platform is one of the few proven methods of selling a lot of books, but the media has become so balkanized that many best-selling authors are ‘celebrities’ invisible to most of the nation: YouTube stars, radio hosts, reality TV contestants.”
Yes, a new film claims he “invented Christmas,” but gets many other things right. “Commercial requirements drove Dickens to audacious innovations. … Dickens was forging a path that the others followed. He showed how the novel could be popular yet daring, capacious yet true to the ordinary pains of one individual’s experience. He proved that you could experiment and still sell books.”
This lovely piece is by a woman who worked as a book wrapper: “In the weeks before Christmas the Chinook was loud and warm and full. Toddlers threw stuffed monkeys from the two-story playhouse in the children’s book section; men in hiking boots and dirty ski jackets bent over topographical maps they’d pulled from tall oak chests containing all the landscapes of the West: every vein, every slope, from the prairie to the Pacific. Shoppers balanced tall stacks of books in their arms, left stacks of books on the wide black counter while they went back for more.”
The Strand, on Union Square in Manhattan, is known for many things, including its book selection. But its consistent place in the world of tote bags might be equally famous – and now it has offered more than 100 designs. Why? “Books and tote bags go together naturally — one is an object to be carried, the other carries it. So it makes sense that Strand customers would gravitate toward the bookstore’s bags. The appeal of a tote, however, goes beyond mere utility.”
Nine of the 13 members of the editorial staff lost their jobs, including all the top editors and all but one of the staff writers.
Chaz Reetz-Laiolo alleges that Emma Cline sold him her computer with spyware installed, which she used to gain access to his email and other private accounts, stealing from drafts of screenplays he was writing for scenes and language in The Girls. His suit says Cline used the access to “systematically surveil his private email obsessively over a period of years”. Cline’s countersuit acknowledges that she used the spyware to look into Reetz-Laiolo’s alleged infidelity during their relationship, but says she had no access to the software once she sold the computer.
Researchers speculate that evoking strong imagery may make the content of a poem easier to mentally process, and thus make the experience of reading it more enjoyable. Alternately, “readers might pay closer attention to poems that are vivid,” the researchers write.
Searches for the word spiked three times during the past year, two of them after incidents involving Ivanka Trump and the third after the angry speech in which Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced his retirement.
Says the citation for Christopher Bollen’s The Destroyers, “The judges felt that there are parts in the book where Bollen goes overboard in his attempts to describe the familiar in new terms, leading occasionally to confusion. In the line quoted … they were left unsure as to how many testicles the character in question has.”
“The first time around, many paywalls simply did not work. But times have changed. The New York Times success in transforming itself into a company that is markedly less dependent on advertising than it has been in recent years has emboldened many other publishers. The Times now makes more than 20 percent of its revenue on digital-only subscriptions, a number which has been growing quickly. In absolute terms, last quarter, the Times made $85.7 million from these digital products. The question is: Can media organizations that are not huge like the Times or The Washington Post, or business focused like Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal, create meaningful businesses from their paywalls?”
The good reader’s cultural elevation always relied on his oppositional relationship to the curiously undifferentiated mass of bad readers, who struck Nabokov—and have struck many teachers and literary scholars since—as a kind of irritating background noise; always already present and unworthy of any serious or systematic consideration.
“Why was I writing? It was not for glory; I had seen what I took to be real glory. It was not for acclaim. I knew that if the book was published, it would have to be under a pseudonym; I did not want to jeopardize a career by becoming known as a writer. I had heard the derisive references to “God-Is-My-Copilot” Scott. The ethic of fighter squadrons was drink and daring; anything else was suspect. Still, I thought of myself as more than just a pilot and imagined a book that would be in every way admirable.”
BBC World Service’s In the Studio visits the California poet laureate and former NEA chairman at his hilltop retreat, where he talks about how he feels a poem coming on physically and has to walk around as he’s composing it – as well as the origin of the ballad he wrote about the death of his Mexican-American cowboy grandfather in Wyoming. (audio)
“It is unsurprising that simplified English is the lingua franca of Moria prison camp and its environs, spoken between asylum-seekers from formerly-colonised states as disparate as Iraq, Uganda, Pakistan and Burma. But in the crucible of the overcrowded detention centre … English is undergoing an accelerated evolution, tentatively beginning to develop its own unique grammar and idiom.”
“New stats revealed this week by audiobooks.com showed how many (or few) of us get to the end of a range of audiobooks. They make tough reading for Craig Oliver, whose No 10 [Downing St] Brexit memoirs, Unleashing Demons, kept only 20% of readers rapt until the end. The oft-unfinished War and Peace retained about the same proportion through its 60-plus hours of narration (stats were not available for Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time).”
Ben Judah: “There is a simplicity and a clarity to Orwell’s prose. It flows nicely. But there is also nothing special about it other than the fact it has been canonised as the ultimate in English authorial excellence. This is still very much a surprise to me, because there is just so much wrong with it.”