Words

How 19th Century Newspapers Were Like Today’s Internet

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“Many 19th-century newspapers are comprised primarily of content from other newspapers,” he said. “They were more aggregators than producers of original content. And often they were created by very small staffs, and scholars such as Ellen Gruber Garvey have shown that this aggregation is what allowed newspapers to spread as rapidly as they did in the 19th century, because you didn’t have to produce the whole thing.”

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Time For Lit Magazines To Rethink How They Choose What To Publish?

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“Let’s be honest about the situation at lit mags: most are funded out of the editors’ pockets or else given a small budget from a university, most have unpaid editors (often MFA students getting a year’s experience), and most receive far more submissions than the editors could ever read. And if we are being really, really honest, most magazines don’t even have much of a readership, so no real way to raise money by charging readers.”

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Why Translating Literature Is Torture

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Breaking the Bulgarian structure out of the sentences and turning it into an equally strong and evocative phrase in English is a lot like doing 50 pushups. It’s painful and exalting. And one day, you get better. But sometimes you cry and swear, becoming haunted by Nabokov’s seminal, merciless essay, “The Art of Translation.”

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Why We Need Poetry Now More Than Ever

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“Conventional public discourse is boring, too familiar and brittle: the spray-on-tan blather of pundits on CNN, the coo of commerce, the drained, template-like rhetoric of political speech. That’s where poetry, that oft-forgotten form, comes in, a specific kind of verse called “civic poetry.” Civic poetry is public poetry. It is political poetry. It is about the hard stuff of life: money, crime, gender, corporate excess, racial injustice.”

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Rant: Time To Stop Being Snobbish About Book Genres

CORRECTS NAME - American writer, Jonathan Franzen, left, shows his award, the Budapest Grand Prix, which he received from President of the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association, MKKE, Andras Sandor Kocsis, during the opening of the 22nd Budapest International Book Festival on stage of the Millenaris Theatre in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

“I’m tired of cultural pompousness passing as a form of intelligence and moral superiority, whether we’re talking about television, book, movie or music preferences. I record “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” while my boyfriend records “Nova”—does that make him a better person? Is that really what we want to pass down to the next generation—a way of one-upping ourselves over something that should be entertaining?”

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Who Was It Who Declared That This Is The Year Of The REALLY Long Novels?

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“I don’t fear the long novel as much as pine for good editors. A book can be any length, if the words earn their keep on the page. I rarely see the point in huge chunks of prose that don’t serve the story: writing has to be mesmerisingly good before that doesn’t feel self-indulgent to me. I also worry that we might be overlooking short novels.”

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László Krasznahorkai Wins Man Booker International Prize

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“The Hungarian author, whose sentences roll out over paragraphs in what his translator George Szirtes has called a ‘slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type’, has won the Man Booker International prize for his ‘achievement in fiction on the world stage’.”

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Which Large World City Has The Most Bookstores Per Capita? (It’s Not Paris, London, New York, Or Moscow)

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“With a population of 2.8 million people within the city limits, there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 people … The closest [competitor] is Hong Kong, which has 22 bookstores per 100,000 people.” Says one bookstore manager, “Books represent us like [big hint redacted]. We have a culture very rooted in print.”

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Is This The Year Of The Very Long Novel? Or Does It Only Seem Like It?

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“Maybe it was ever thus? ‘I don’t think the long novel ever went away,’ says Jennifer Brehl, who edited Neal Stephenson’s forthcoming 880-page sci-fi story Seveneves. … But the notable thing about these books isn’t that their heft is unprecedented; it’s that all the forces Hallberg alluded to in 2010″ – basically, culture-wide gadget-induced ADD – “are exponentially stronger today.”

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Why Hong Kong Is Down On Creative Writing Programs

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“In its abrupt closure of a small programme, City University has chosen to make the act of writing a political battle. For five years, we occupied a small and unique place: a learning environment in which there were no hard and fast dicta, but in which we cultivated the awareness that language is thinking. Language can diminish and language can enlarge. For our young people, to read and to be read matters.”

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Writers’ Organization Boots Controversial Poet Off Planning Committee

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“The association, which represents more than 500 campus-based writing programs, as well as thousands of writers, acted after many members pushed for Place’s removal. They object to her Twitter account (below right), on which she is posting, line by line, the text of the novel Gone With the Wind. The Twitter feed also features a photograph of Hattie McDaniel as the profile picture. McDaniel was the actress who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mammy in the film version of the novel.”

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The New York Times Book Review Hires Friends Of Writers To Review Books Sometimes, But Is That OK?

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“A personal connection with the author, or well-known strong feelings on the book’s subject, may actually be considered a positive, or at least not a disqualifier, Ms. Paul told me. … Landing an accomplished reviewer who will write a provocative, well-informed piece ‘is what gets us excited,’ she said.”

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Inheriting A Kindle Library And Realizing The Value Of Print

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“While my younger sister was going through our mother’s personal belongings, she came across something she thought I might like. ‘Do you want mum’s Kindle?’ she asked via text message. I stared at the message and thought about the irony of the endless debates I had with my mother. Now that she was gone, all I cared about were her physical books.”

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How America’s Librarians Are Fighting For Our Privacy

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“It’s very difficult to talk about surveillance until something happens like the Edward Snowden revelations,” said Barbara Jones, director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. “A lot of people had not thought about these things, but librarians tend to be thoughtful people. People assume we’re protecting their privacy, and we have to tell them that has now been compromised. And that’s very sad.”

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Crowdfunded Novel Wins The Bookseller’s First Book Of The Year Award

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“The prize is intended to recognise the publisher as well as the book, and goes to both [Paul] Kingsnorth and Unbound, the crowdfunding publisher which released The Wake last year … The novel is set in 1066, and tells the story of guerrilla fighters who take up arms against the Norman invaders in the Lincolnshire fens. It is written in a reimagined version of Old English after Kingsnorth found that modern English ‘didn’t fit’ the world he was creating.”

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Do We Look At Domestic Fiction Differently Based On Whether A Man Or A Woman Wrote It? Cheryl Strayed And Pankaj Mishra Weigh In

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Mishra: “Novels about suburban families are more likely to be greeted as microcosmic explorations of the human condition if they are by male writers; their female counterparts are rarely allowed to transcend the category of domestic fiction.”
Strayed: “Notions of domesticity and femaleness are so entangled that many presume it’s the only thing women can write about … There’s been nary a day in the past decade that I haven’t had to set someone straight about the fact that I wrote my books for people, not women.”

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Should Writing Well Still Be A Sign Of Whether You’re Educated Or Smart?

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“It may be time to understand that the writing culture of an earlier era was a matter of fashion, much like the elaborate clothing required of anyone who stepped outside. And just as fashions can be utilitarian—houses weren’t as well heated in the old days, making all those textiles more necessary most of the year—writing ability mattered more when it was the main way one had to communicate with the world beyond one’s self.”

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In Defense Of The Negative Book Review: Can Hatchet Jobs Build Strong Literary Culture?

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“The language of marketing is that of ‘appreciation,’ and if literary critics adopt appreciation as their primary mode, they have not achieved critical distance from market interests. … The reviewer must be allowed to retain the option of proclaiming some books superior to others in the canon; if this right is denied her, then reviewing has become an extension of marketing, and she has lost credibility.”

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Encore: Celebrating 25 Years Of The Only Lit Prize To Honor Second Novels

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“In particular, as suggested by the phrase ‘the difficult second novel’, things can get tough after first publication. If your first book has gone like the clappers, you’ll probably be feeling pressure, both self-generated and from expectant publishers; at the same time, … your schedule may seem to conspire against you ever writing another word.”

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Parents In Idaho, North Carolina Want ‘Of Mice And Men,’ ‘Kite Runner’ Removed From High Schools

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“In Coeur d’Alene, four members of a committee dedicated to curriculum review have urged the city’s school district to ban Steinbeck’s famous novel from being taught in classrooms … In Asheville, one school has already suspended [Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 bestseller], a frequently challenged novel about an Afghan boy growing up in Kabul.”

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