“The book was discovered this fall by librarians at a public library in St.-Omer, near Calais, who were sifting through its collections for an exhibition on English-language literature. The title page and other introductory material were torn off.”
“Though there are signs of life in the independent-bookseller business — consider the success of McNally-Jackson — few secondhand-book stores are left in Manhattan. Only two survive in midtown, and the necrology is long. Skyline on West 18th Street, New York Bound Bookshop in Rockefeller Center, the Gotham Book Mart on West 47th — closed. Academy Books is now Academy Records & CDs. So, then: Why is there still a Strand Book Store?”
“Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. … Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. … And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.”
“The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”
Haruki Murakami: “In the face of the dark, violent and cynical reality in which we live, this might seem at times like a powerless and fleeting hope. But the power that each individual has to imagine is found precisely in this: in the quiet yet sustained effort to keep on singing, to keep on telling stories, without losing heart.”
“Kindle did launch a public notes feature in 2011, which allows people to make their notes and highlights available to others, but some still worry digital marginalia won’t be preserved as technology advances, leaving future historians without the kind of marginalia penned by people like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen, and other historical figures. Others wonder whether there’s a point in trying to preserve marginalia at all.”
“Former Marine Phil Klay took home the [award] for fiction, winning the prize for his debut short story collection Redeployment. … Journalist Evan Osnos won the National [award] in nonfiction for his impressively subtitled book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.” Louise Gluck’s Faithful and Virtuous Night took the prize for poetry.
“Ah, genre. A word only a Frenchman could love. Well, you ask how I decide which genre to write in, and I have to answer, mostly I don’t. My mind doesn’t work that way. … I didn’t follow the sf rules and conventions unless I felt like it; essentially I went on writing what I wanted to write, and they could call it what they liked.”
The world’s best-selling author, who gave out $1 million in grants to independent bookstores this year, strongly believes that the practice of reading for enjoyment is in danger in the U.S., especially among the young. In a Q&A, he talks about how he’s trying to help turn that tide, and what Jeff Bezos could do for the cause.
Linguistic family trees; languages maps of China, India, and Ukraine; how well various EU nationals can converse in English; the most common second language in each U.S. state; a graphic timeline of the history of the English language; a graph charting the rise and fall of the semicolon … a treasure trove for language and graphics geeks.
Plenty of scientific linguists have debunked the sillier rules espoused by language pedants – those proscribing split infinitives, ending a sentence on a preposition, and so on. But Steven Pinker wants to go beyond that, “to offer guidance, based in evidence from actual use of language, for how people can improve their prose without recycling these superstitions”.