“After I’m finished working, I always do my exercise, and then I’ll eat something, usually after midnight. The main problem with that routine is all these people who want to do things in the morning.”
“Are you having a good week?”
“Yeah, the best week of my professional career, so.”
“I called AAA and waited for them to arrive and fix my flat tire. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And suddenly I realized, to my horror, that I didn’t have any reading material in the car.”
“People are often surprised to learn that books, those bulky, fact-rich forever things, frequently receive less scrutiny from an independent fact checker than the stories they skim in magazines before tossing them in the recycling bin.”
“Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2004, Cloud Atlas is already complicated enough: telling the story of six interlocking lives and hopping back and forth across centuries and genres. But differences between the US and UK editions highlighted by [a professor] in a journal article published on Wednesday on the Open Library of Humanities run to 30 pages of examples.”
“What about telling a story? Not like cookie-cutter data chunks turned into sentences, but a tale with a lot of context and information. Could an algorithm someday write a breezy 2,000-word article like this one? Nobody can currently claim that throne, but one company that appears to be closer to that goal than most is an Israeli firm called Articoolo.”
The leader of the effort to preserve Hawaiian Sign Language is being led by its last native user. But there are conflicts – cultural and personal as well as practical – making the job even more difficult.
“One line member tells Atwood she doesn’t know who she is, hasn’t read any of her books, and wants to know which she should start with. The author shoots her that stare. ‘So you want me to say who I am. Well, I’m secretly Glinda the Good Witch in disguise, and the best novel that I wrote is called the Iliad,’ Atwood says, deadpan. ‘What?’ the woman asks.”
“For some word purists, the singular they is the linguistic equivalent of an ingrown hair, but for others, the solutions for getting around the problem are way messier. … It may be the most controversial word use in the English language – because it highlights a hole in the language where a better-fitting word should go. … And there has been a lot written about it. Here’s another piece of tinder to throw on the fire.”
Okay, maybe not every single one. Boris Kachka: “There’s William Wallace Cook’s chart-crazy Plotto, first published in 1928; there’s crisp guides like Christopher Booker’s The Basic Seven Plots and Ronald B. Tobias’s 20 Master Plots; there’s even a couple of computer programs – many, over centuries, have tried to count the ways to tell a story. With a little help from those, here is a far-from-comprehensive encyclopedia of every archetypal plot we know.”
“If you go to most other independents, they will have a section of African-American books. But a whole bookstore filled with books on African-Americans? That’s something that people should see.”
An eight-year legal struggle between the National Library of Israel, which claims the papers based on instructions in the will of Kafka’s friend Max Brod, and the daughters of Brod’s secretary Esther Hoffe, who insist that Brod gave their mother the papers to do with as she liked, has been ended with a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court.
“The rise of the self-published author as a commercial force, the growth of the ebook market and the willingness of traditional publishers to loosen contractual reins have given rise to the phenomenon of the “hybrid author,” who can either publish traditionally or self-publish. These writers’ relationships to their publishers can resemble open marriages.”
“[The character] Kinbote’s mad ‘notes’, far from commenting on Shade’’ poem, trace out a mini-biog¬raphy of Kinbote. And that biography, real or delusional, is the picture of an unrepentant homosexual, sensual, guilt-free, tirelessly on the make. In the 1950s, gay men were portrayed in fiction and films as lonely phantoms – sad and colourless – or sometimes as instant villains (see Norman Mailer’s essay, ‘The Gay Villain’, 1954). Nabokov, by contrast, depicts Kinbote as lustful, entitled, screamingly absurd.”
“The phenomenon, which involves feeling intimidated, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by libraries and librarians, was first identified by Constance A. Mellon in 1986.” The problem is worse in 2016, with a generation who grew up with the web: “As soon as you need to use scholarly resources, Wikipedia isn’t going to cut it.”
“With Olive Kitteridge, I remember at one point, I thought, uh-oh, this is really going out there – and I remember very consciously telling myself, don’t be careful. Do not be careful. You’ve got to let her be who she is.”
“The appeal of all fantasy, including Rowling’s original series, comes from answering the question “What if?” What if magic existed? What if an owl delivered an invitation (to you!) to learn magic at a secret school? What if jelly beans came in every flavor, including earwax? What if you had to die to save the world?”
“For 17 years, the local people adopted the African American author as one of their own. He was often seen chatting in the bar of the local Colombe d’Or hotel, and the affection was reciprocal. Today campaigners are battling to secure the future of his 17th-century house and its grounds, which have been earmarked for development into 18 luxury €1m flats. Two wings of the property on the 10-acre plot have already been demolished, including one in which he wrote.”
“A new generation of young European writers is reinventing political literature—and people are listening. Some of the brightest new voices on the continent are making their names through overtly political books, showing that literature, even books of poetry, can still play a significant role in shaping public discourse.”
New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins recounts some of the countless surprises she experienced with French after she relocated to Geneva with her husband, Olivier.
“According to the Turkish Publishers Association, the decree means that all goods, assets, rights, documents and papers belonging to the publishers will be transferred free of charge to the Turkish treasury, with no appeal to be made, and the prospect of further publishers being shut down in the future.”
Many literary works today do not appear in translation, but are written for translation from the beginning. They are “born translated.” Adapted from “born digital,” the term used to designate artworks produced by and for the computer, “born-translated literature approaches translation as medium and origin rather than as afterthought. Translation is not secondary or incidental to these works. It is a condition of their production.”
“It has sold more than 680,000 copies in its first three days alone, beating Fifty Shades of Grey which sold 664,478 in a single week in 2012. At its current rate, it is on track to become the second biggest single-week sales for a book since records began.”
“Digital books made it possible to track the way people read and companies like Amazon and Apple could gather that data, but didn’t share it with publishers. Now a number of businesses have sprung up that specialize in reader analytics and they are sharing their findings.”
Charles McGrath suggests that it’s “a novelistic weariness with America and Americans, a sense that our native ground is not too thin, as Henry James would have it, but too played out.” Siddhartha Deb thinks perhaps they shouldn’t bother: “Can a novel set abroad be anything other than the Grand Tour novel or its successor, the imperial novel?”
“We love reading about nature for the same reason naturalists love being ankle-deep in marshes: Nature provides enough order to soothe and enough entropy to surprise. It’s also why so many involve a person in the landscape; understanding our place in the world is as important as understanding the world itself.”
“Roughly 4,500 years old, they describe the daily routines of workers during the Fourth Dynasty reign of King Khufu as they worked on national projects, highlighting in particular the physical labor of constructing the pharaoh’s Great Pyramid of Giza.”
Well, it was rational, systematic, and taxonomically orderly. If only that were the way humans actually think.
“It’s a bit of tech innovators being hoisted by their own petard: the massive drop in cost in back-office software and computers has benefitted small stores as much as a large ones. It costs much less now to do much more than a decade [ago], reducing overhead and improving efficiency.”
David Marsh: “The brief given me was, broadly, to stop people calling the paper ‘the Grauniad’. Or, since this professional suicide mission was always unlikely to succeed, at least give them less reason to do so.”