“Eliot’s attitude toward popular art forms was more capacious and ambivalent than he’s often given credit for. … And it so happens that, well before detective stories came into vogue among [Edmund] Wilson’s cohort, Eliot had become one of the genre’s most passionate and discerning readers.”
“Depending on who you ask, the ‘Dark Web’ – the Internet’s mysterious undercurrent accessible only through specialized software – is either a libertarian utopia or a criminal hellscape run by cryptoanarchists trading stolen bitcoins. Now it’s more than either.” A Q&A with the founders of the new literary magazine The Torist.
The Académie Française introduced these changes – the elimination of some (not all) circumflexes and simplified spelling of some words – back in 1990, but they’re only now entering the school curriculum. And the French are protesting in (very Gallic) solidarity with their beloved diacritical mark.
“To arrive at those state-by-state breakdowns, the analytics firm Marchex used what it calls Call DNA technology—software that analyzes call recordings to determine things like rate of speech, density of speech, hold times, and silences—on a set of calls recorded between 2013 and 2015. (These are the recordings that result when a pleasant robo-voice informs you that “this call may be recorded.” Marchex’s analysis includes more than 4 million such calls.)”
“A person familiar with the dispute said that tensions flared during a recent meeting, when [editor Christopher] Cox presented his plans to redesign the magazine’s cover. [Publisher John R.] MacArthur opposed the change. … Harper’s, published monthly, is a nonprofit publication that is supported in large part by Mr. MacArthur’s personal wealth.”
“It was bad enough when our capacity to produce and read great stories collapsed. Now it seems we’ve turned around and loved magazine writing to death.”
Malcolm Jones, co-author of a volume of retold Brer Rabbit stories (minus the tar baby and Uncle Remus): “The book got good reviews and sold well enough to justify two sequels. If there was any protest, it never got back to me. Still I always felt like we’d gotten away with something, even if I wasn’t sure what. Because when you take a stroll through the territory of children’s literature, you’d better know where the land mines are buried.”
“Amazon already has one physical store that opened back in November. The Seattle store was dismissed as a “vanity project” when it was first announced, but apparently it worked out well enough that Amazon is willing to bet big money on it. It ain’t cheap to open 300-400 retail stores.”
” A writer can get mileage out of scorning the book trailer while also promulgating the book trailer. And if you must pander to viewers, you might as well simultaneously broadcast your movie-star friendships; and why not throw in the dog, too, seeing as you’ve already shown the requisite self-awareness?”
Claire Vaye Watkins: “We’re plod, plod, plodding along, one foot in front of the other, and the ash is grey – and it’s just the same emotional key struck again and again and again.”
“Oxford Dictionaries tried to deflect blame, protesting that its entries merely reflect language as it is and has historically been used. But as a source of authority regarding word usage, the dictionary helps to create and normalize that usage, and thus should hold itself to a higher level of scrutiny.”
“I remember the moment I went from being an admired, multi-award-winning debut picture book author to a largely unknown, ignored, and even pitied self-published author. In the past two years I have published sixteen books for young readers, but my books are not eligible for review in the major outlets, public libraries refuse to acquire them for their collections, and major awards are no longer a possibility.”
“For the modernists, being spiritually sick was a condition of intellectual respectability, and T. S. Eliot wrote that ‘there is something artificial and even priggish about Goethe’s healthiness.’ … The key to Goethe is that the spiritual ‘healthiness’ so disliked by Eliot was not that of a man with a perfect constitution but that of a recovered invalid.”
We know about the poetry on subway ads and the short story vending machines. But now there’s poetry and prose on coffee-cup sleeves, poets in public spaces writing on-demand verse for $5, and classic novels that double as 10-ride transit passes.
“Just like the old-guard editors and publishing companies that they once defined themselves against, these new imprints promise to anoint fledgling authors with legitimacy and give them an edge in a flooded and cutthroat marketplace.”
“‘Those who want things always to stay the same are not living in the real world,’ Ms. Wintour said in a recent interview at her office overlooking the Hudson River at Condé Nast’s new headquarters, One World Trade Center. ‘It’s like perfection. Doesn’t exist.'”
“Appropriation and hybridization are two of the hallmarks of Black art forms (think of sampling in hip-hop) which is also true of experimental art. How come Black art isn’t seen as synonymous with experimentation? And how come the opposite is so often true? Why are Black artists, along with other racial minorities, usually excluded from the so-called avant garde?”
“A week after arriving, I open my diary to describe our misadventures and I do something strange, unexpected. I write my diary in Italian. I do it almost automatically, spontaneously. I do it because when I take the pen in my hand I no longer hear English in my brain. During this period when everything confuses me, everything unsettles me, I change the language I write in.”
“Foreign-accent syndrome is similar to aphasia, a communication disorder that can cause a variety of speech problems, often after a stroke or brain injury. But that doesn’t explain psychogenic foreign-accent syndrome. And, if patients’ speech is just impaired, why would that register as a different accent?”
“All this attention comes not from a greater understanding of mortality but from a greater ignorance of it. The promises of religion are replaced by the promise of science, yet medicine fails to vanquish its ultimate foe, instead rendering death more obscure, a matter for procrastination.”
“The beloved first sentence is the product of dramatic changes one hundred and fifty years into the novel’s history. There are ample studies of the rise of the novel, but the move that would become the novel’s calling card has virtually no critical history.”
“Underlying all his characters was his fascination with how different people might experience differently the same situation. … Where Tasso’s verses describe for Tasso and his readers the essence of war, Cervantes’ prose describes how his characters perceive and misperceive war. Tasso’s words paint heroes; Cervantes’ lines animate characters.”
It irks the South Korean establishment that a nation as large and wealthy as theirs has won only one Nobel (the 2000 Peace Prize, to President Kim Dae-jung). So a huge effort is being made to translate and distribute the country’s literature to the rest of the world (including the Nobel committee). even though Koreans themselves aren’t big lit readers. (And there’s only one clear candidate.)
“I have far too many examples of workshops in which my peers have expressed aversion to writers engaging with issues of social justice or race… In my experience of having attended a prestigious MFA program in creative writing and having finished coursework in a prestigious PhD program in creative writing, the majority of fiction writers feel that a writer should only be concerned with aesthetics and form, i.e., the territory of true, high art. Sadly, not only is this common in fiction workshops in general, but among writers of color in fiction workshops.”
Mindwheel, a text-based game from the 1980s, “is a playful mishmash of sci-fi tropes, Pop surrealism, and allusions both high and low … The player traverse[s] the minds and memories of four deceased individuals – loosely based on major historical figures – using what the game calls a ‘neuro-electronic matrix.’ The goal is to retrieve the titular mindwheel, which ‘contains the secret of the world’s best values.'”
“Most writers of literary fiction regard bestsellers with a mixture of envy for the numbers involved and disgust for the kind of writing that often racks them up. Le Devoir lightened its assignment by presenting it as a game, with a reader poll to decide the winner.”
“Public patronage programs provided new classes of Americans with the resources needed to write and, through financial support, enabled them to take aesthetic risks. The upshot was a more diverse literary world—racially, politically, and aesthetically. But times have changed.”
“The prize has been selecting a book of the year since 1985, choosing from the categories of novel, first novel, biography, children’s book and poetry. It has been compared to choosing between ‘bananas and chicken curry’ by one former judge. The only other children’s book to win was The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman, in 2001.”
“Statistical analysis carried out at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences reveal something intriguing. The composition of works from within a particular genre was characterized by the exceptional dynamics of a cascading (avalanche) narrative structure. This type of narrative turns out to be multifractal. That is, fractals of fractals are created.”
Not only did Capote’s book inspire a feature film, at least one TV mini-series, and two biopics of the author, it’s had enormous influence, right down to today’s media phenomenons Serial and Making a Murderer.