“A private Utah-based corporation that runs the North Central Correctional Complex in Marion, Ohio, has been sued by the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center for blocking inmates from receiving books on ‘criminal justice policies, legal research, health care issues and other similar topics.'”
“[Bestselling author Shea Serrano] decided on Wednesday to direct his 135,000 Twitter followers to the Carmichael’s online store. His goal was to generate 1,000 orders in one day. It took less than five hours.”
Just last month, this memoir of the author’s journey to post-Qaddafi Libya in search of his father won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Now it has received the £20,000 Rathbones Folio Prize – in the first year the honor has been open to both fiction and nonfiction.
The municipality of metro Istanbul closed 1453 Culture and Art Magazine and fired three editors for “bounderish, disrespectful and provocative content” – that content being a spray-painted “Erdo-gone! Inshallah mashallah (God willing)” on a wall behind a cat. The offending article? A cover story on a popular documentary about the city’s street cats.
“Longer on gadgetry than on literature, AWM is all about the breezy quote and the glitzy busywork toys that are now the currency of the exhibit industry: push a button, spin a wheel, drag an icon, and the gadgets spit out a thimbleful of data. It’s American Lit 101 (and more), the nutshell version. The books? Look up when you first walk in: a lot of them are stapled to a framework hanging just below the ceiling.”
“Fifty years after the book’s publication, it may be tempting to believe its success was as inevitable as the fate of the Buendía family at the story’s center.” It wasn’t – it had many detractors in its first years, including some who dismissed it as traditionalist and anachronistic.
Columnist Mike Newall: “I visited the century-old library that sits atop Needle Park in Kensington because I’d heard its staff was the first in the city to learn how to administer the lifesaving overdose antidote Narcan.”
Amazon Charts might open up a whole new set of bestsellers based on books actually read rather than books bought as coffee-table status symbols. But will this carry more weight with the publishing industry – and readers – than the venerable New York Times bestseller tag, which has been the go-to example of bragging rights since 1931?
“We writers have often spent time—much of it in the late twentieth century—questioning the ability of words to reflect facts, and the existence of objective facts themselves. There are those who have, whether with glee or with shame, observed a sort of relationship between those postmodern exercises and Trump’s post-truth, post-language ways. I think this reflects a basic misunderstanding, or perhaps a willing conflation of intentions. When writers and academics question the limits of language, it is invariably an exercise that grows from a desire to bring more light into the public sphere, to arrive at a shared reality that is more nuanced than it was yesterday. To focus ever more tightly on the shape, weight, and function of any thing that can be named, or to find names for things that have not, in the past, been observed. Our ability to do this depends on a shared language.”
“At this late stage — Murakami is 68 — critical reception has ceased to matter to Murakami’s international audience. In Japan his books are greeted with Harry Potter–like rabidity, and in the U.S. initial print runs are in the hundreds of thousands. Cribbing a remark John Irving once made to him in an interview, Murakami has compared his readers to heroin addicts, and that may be one reason why he’s consistently delivered an ever-purer-grade product. A Nobel Prize has long been thought to be looming, especially by British bookies. Few of his skeptics would deny that his early work, his self-declared project of importing Western tropes and styles to treat life in Japan and his reckoning with Japan’s history, put him in that hazily defined league. A cynic might say: After Dylan, all is permitted.”
“For any student of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, no event was isolated. Each murder or set of murders seemed to have been inspired by a previous one, each atrocity appeared to be in retaliation for something that had occurred the week before.”
Science fiction writer Cory Doctorow: “The fact that a story captures the public imagination doesn’t mean that it will come true in the future, but it tells you something about the present. You learn something about the world when a vision of the future becomes a subject of controversy or delight.”
At The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, “Some see it as a special place, one made magical through the presence of books. Some view it as a photo opportunity first, everything else second. We get people blocking thoroughfares to take photos, making access to shelves difficult for both staff and visitors. We should have known that would happen when we created unusual design fixtures for the store, from the tunnel of books on the mezzanine level to the cash wrap made of books.”
It’s a big question, especially because “The magazine’s high-profile editor-in-chief, Jonathan Kay – under social-media fire after coming to the defence of another magazine editor who had lost his job over an editorial advocating cultural appropriation – resigned .”
“At the beginning of each session the leader gives a prompt, and, after the requisite grumbling and staring into the middle-distance, the whole group, leader included, spend 15 or 20 minutes in silence, scribbling in their notebooks. Then those who feel like it read what they’ve just written.” And feedback has to be positive, or it can’t happen at all.
Part of the problem, award-winning screenwriters say? Directors. “The generally held view is that the director is all-powerful. You never hear a writer mentioned. Hardly ever. They don’t say ‘this is a marvellous film written by’ but ‘this is a wonderful film directed by.’ … There’s nothing you can do to change it, but that’s how the industry is. The director has taken over the whole film world.”
The kids love the story hour, which started in San Francisco and spread via social media to New York. “As is the case with all readers, library staff members taught Ms. Sunbeam how to engage the children, with questions (‘Who likes rainbows?’) and to manage crowds of often restless youngsters. However, the differences between a rowdy drag show audience and a group of kindergartners are not as pronounced as one might imagine. ‘Little kids can be crazy,’ Ms. Shapiro said. ‘We like to joke that they’re kind of like drunk adults.’ When asked to pinpoint the main difference between story hour and an evening drag show, Ms. Sunbeam said jokingly, ‘I’m sober.'”
By September, 2015, online first-person writing was so abundant that Laura Bennett, at Slate, could refer to a “first-person industrial complex” in a takedown of the genre. “Every site seems to have a first person vertical and a first-person editor,” Bennett, who also cited Gould’s Times story as a turning point, wrote. The market, in Bennett’s view, had overinflated. She was right: a year and a half later, it barely exists.
What’s more, most of them weren’t even American. (We’re crushed.) Daniel Crown explains – and basically exonerates the dear old fellow.
In the English language, that effort is just about futile, argues linguist John McWhorter in this Lexicon Valley podcast.
“He steps into the role two months after the death of editor Robert B. Silvers, who, with Barbara Epstein, founded the publication in 1963. … This makes Buruma just the third editor in NYRB‘s history, and gives him reign [sic] over a publication that has existed throughout its entire history in the image of its creators.”
“There was something that kind of irked me about the title,” says Jane Schmidt, librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto. “As a librarian, my gut reaction to that was, ‘You know what else is a free library? A regular library.’”
“As the library has grown from a roomful of young Nairobians to an ongoing conversation that spans the continent—with email, Skype, and social media allowing members in a half-dozen countries to stay in touch—it’s become clear that Jalada is where the future of African literature is being written.”
“A Northwestern University graduate student is suing a professor at the campus for defamation, the latest twist in a long-running controversy that already has involved discrimination and sexual harassment investigations, multiple lawsuits and the exit of a prominent philosophy professor.”
“Perhaps alphabet blocks seem like an obvious idea now, but it took a lot of foundation to build up that pretty good idea into something incredibly common.” And by the way, “the guy who invented the word ‘Kindergarten’ also ensured [alphabet] blocks would always have a place in the toy aisle.”
A good editor’s work is generally invisible to the reader, as most good editors think it ought to be. Here Colin Dickey writes about a lengthy back and forth between a writer and the editor who (heavily) edited his first novel (including cutting it by a third) – this 15 years later, when the novelist published his original 900-page version himself.
“The author of ten poetry collections and a memoir, [Joy] Harjo was born in Tulsa and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Her poetry draws on Native American history and storytelling, as well as feminist and social justice issues.”
“The editor-in-chief of The Walrus resigned late Saturday after mounting criticism, including from some of the magazine’s own contributors, for his role within a swirling controversy over the toxic subject of cultural appropriation.”
Adam Bradley’s answer to the dorm-room question is nuanced but unequivocal, and boils down to this: Pop lyrics are not by themselves poetry, but pop songs can be. He does not fall into the trap of treating pop lyrics as technically equal to the heights scaled by great poetry; he understands that “song lyrics need music, voice, and performance to give them life.” He denies the need for “creating a canon of pop lyrics, so that Steven Tyler can sit with Shakespeare,” instead proposing a superb formulation: “Pop,” he writes, “is a poetry whose success lies in getting you to forget that it is poetry at all.”
“A great storyteller — whether a journalist or editor or filmmaker or curator — helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters. A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom. Through symbol, metaphor, and association, the storyteller helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.”