“The free stories are available at the touch of a button, printing out on rolls of paper like a till receipt. Readers are able to choose one minute, three minutes or five minutes of fiction.”
The problem is that they were rendered into tightly wound, fragile little chunks of carbon by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, which destroyed Herculaneum and its neighbor, Pompeii. But a combination of advanced imaging software and advanced particle physics might just be able to make the scrolls legible.
“When the codex—the bound book—appeared, some conservative Romans almost certainly went around complaining, ‘What was wrong with scrolls? They were good enough for Horace and Cicero.’ Gutenberg’s press gradually undercut the market for illuminated manuscripts.”
“After a list of the top 20 academic books was pulled together by expert academic booksellers, librarians and publishers …, the public was asked to vote on what they believed to be the most influential.” The winner – a volume arguably at the very heart of America’s culture wars – finished well ahead of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, the complete works of Shakespeare, Plato’s The Republic, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
Libraries are powerful precisely because they’re spaces of potentiality. They are, as the Aspen report puts it, “platforms,” foundations on which many structures can be built. To speak of their future, then, should be to speak of a collective future, one from which none are excluded.
For a second consensus-free year in a row, Giller prognosticators were all over the place when asked to pinpoint a front-runner. “It’s almost Game of Thrones — you don’t know who’s going to come out alive out of the bloodbath.”
“How can people like these stories, with their over-easy packaging of what are no doubt extremely complex personal problems, their evident and decidedly unexamined complacency about the rightness of the analyst’s intervention?”
“Computational reading is the culmination of a long tradition in the West in which knowledge-seeking curiosity outweighs transcendent longings. We are awed by our human capacities to organize, reveal, and explain what seems so radically particular and discrete.”
There is “a new generation of young, digitally astute poets whose loyal online followings have helped catapult them onto the best-seller lists, where poetry books are scarce. These amateur poets are not winning literary awards, and most have never been in a graduate writing workshop.”
Grenoble, France “will soon be home to a handful of devices that dispense short stories rather than sugary snacks or soft drinks. The machines will offer a choice of stories one, three, or five minutes long, and their bank of 600 short stories, determined by the publisher Short Édition’s thousands of subscribers and writers, is free of charge.”
“A Lebanese satirical comic last week threw what may prove to be either its final launch party – or the first of its resurrection. The event marked Samandal magazine’s attempt to crowdfund its way out of oblivion after three of its editors were convicted of crimes against religion and fined for their work, nearly putting the experimental comics collective out of business.”
“It’s a bizarre act of self-mutilation to say that ‘I don’t get on with science fiction and fantasy, therefore I’m never going to read any,'” Mitchell says. “What a shame. All those great books that you’re cutting yourself off from.”
“The collection includes letters from aristocrats, spies, merchants, publishers, actors, musicians, barely literate peasants and highly educated people with beautiful handwriting, and are written in French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Latin.”
“While other sectors have certainly overlooked brilliant new ideas and missed opportunities for innovation, this fact isn’t usually romanticized or celebrated. In other sectors this level of oversight would be called ‘a system failure,’ or ‘inefficiency,’ or ‘failure to innovate.’ And policies and practices would be put into place to try to prevent this from happening in the future.”
All of our other scent descriptors are really descriptions of sources: We say that things smell like cinnamon, or roses, or teen spirit, or napalm in the morning. The other senses don’t need these linguistic workarounds.
“This is probably the first time in history that young readers themselves are demanding protection from the disturbing content of their course texts, yet reading has been seen as a threat to mental health for thousands of years.”
The current fuss over trigger warnings for university courses “is probably the first time in history that young readers themselves are demanding protection from the disturbing content of their course texts, yet reading has been seen as a threat to mental health for thousands of years.” Frank Furedi looks at that history.
“The mutiny of Lingua’s editors is another battle in the long-running war over whether academic research should be sold by publishers as part of often costly subscriptions or whether it should be free to all.”
Asked why folks on Michigan Avenue would seek out the museum’s second-story space and pay to enter it when much of the information it’ll present is a tap away on their laptops or phones—or available at the, you know, public library—Anway said the museum will provide “context.”
“Acclaimed Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk (pictured) has received a steady stream of hate mail and even death threats after questioning her country’s view of itself as ‘an open, tolerant country.’ As one person put it in a post to Tokarczuk’s Facebook page, ‘The only justice for these lies is death. Traitor.'” And when translator Jennifer Croft set up and English-language Facebook page to support Tokarczuk, she found herself in the line of fire.
Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi “were first arrested in 2013, placed in solitary confinement and interrogated … They were released on bail in January 2014, awaiting verdicts on charges that included insulting the sacred in their poems, publishing unauthorized content and spreading anti-state propaganda. The sentences [were] 11 and a half years for Ms. Ekhtesari and nine years for Mr. Mousavi, plus 99 lashes for both.”
“France’s oldest and most prestigious literary accolade … has been awarded to the Arabic and Persian scholar Mathias Énard for his novel Boussole (Compass). … Its reward comes not in the prize money – at just €10 it is roughly the same amount as the first Prix Goncourt 1903 – but the massive book sales it guarantees, making the author a fortune.”
“Amazon Books, like a Barnes & Noble of yore, comes complete with plush leatherette chairs for relaxed reading. There are open areas for browsing and chatting. There’s a kids’ area. (“Relax, read, and discover great books with your children,” the release invites.) Which is also to say that Amazon Books is trying to be a place of community—a place where people will meet and hang out.”
Thomas Mallon: “If I had been unwilling to deviate from what Gore Vidal used to call the ‘agreed-upon facts,’ there wouldn’t have been much point to writing a novel instead of a history.” Ayana Mathis: “At the risk of stating the obvious, truth and fact are not the same things. Our belief in the truthfulness of facts is mutable.”
“The fact is, quite a lot of ordinary people enjoy puns. So why is the pun looked down upon? Is its reputation as an inferior form of wordplay really deserved? … It turns out puns are pretty weird, linguistically speaking, given what we think we know about words and what they signify.”
“Not only is it one of Amazon’s first physical locations, but it’s also Amazon’s first physical bookstore. Amazon says that it won’t entirely be doing things like a traditional store, however; it’ll be relying on Amazon.com data — including customer ratings, sales totals, and Goodread’s popularity — to decide which books to stock. Curators will have some say, too.”
Last month, that threat was taken off the table by the European Union’s chief negotiator, who stated unequivocally that fixed book pricing — or “le prix unique” in French — would not be a matter of debate.
“Pitted against nine other titles – from Zadie Smith’s On Beauty to Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing – Adichie’s novel of the Biafran war … has been named the best winner of the [Baileys] women’s prize for fiction of the last decade – by both the public and a 10-strong judging panel.”
“The information may be finite and fixed but it can be has been specially selected which makes it have more coherence. This can give readers an experience that is different from searching the internet but equally satisfying.”
Including stories on the death of the half-hour comedy show, a deep dive into NYT wedding announcements, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Los Angeles and much more.