“I like to sometimes write against the music I’m listening to. So if I’m writing a peaceful, quiet, sad scene, there’s something useful about listening to really assertive, loud music, to find a tension.”
“Like a marathon watching of Sex and the City, a sustained reading of Styles reveals more about both the culture and New York City than you might think from a look at a single issue. … The Styles section may well be pretty stupid sometimes. It’s also a richer and more complex entity than any of us would like to believe.”
There are challenges, of course – getting machines to understand a plot arc, let alone metaphor or irony. But scientists are working on three programs – Scheherazade, the What-If Machine, and Metaphor Magnet – to tackle these problems. Tom Meltzer talks to the creators, while Nicholas Lezard reviews the stories.
“[The novel] comes in two different versions, enabling its readers to experience its two parts – one about a Renaissance Italian fresco painter, one about a contemporary teenager whose mother has recently died – in a different order.” The award, now in its second year, recognizes fiction that experiments with or expands the novel form.
“Neither side gave details of the deal, but both pronounced themselves happy with the terms. Hachette, the fourth largest publisher, won the ability to set the prices for its e-books, which was a major contention in the fight.” Instead, Amazon gets to offer “specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices.”
During the 1870s and 1880s in the U.S., there developed a huge body of stories, plays, and poetry written about – and often by – telegraph operators. “There’s something incredibly modern about these amateur stories and the way they handle technology, the influence of corporations, gender, and love in the time of hyperconnection.”
“Sometime [in 1996] … Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called a meeting in Seattle. He had a simple but potentially massive proposition. Amazon, then a 2-year-old company that sold only new books, wanted to expand into the used-books market – and Bezos wanted Powell’s to be its sole supplier. … There was a catch.”
“Coming just months after the museum’s reopening following a vast refurbishment,” a £4 million cut in annual funding “will result in the loss of up to eighty jobs” and a loss of access, for both academics and the public, to a major collection of documents and photos from World War I and all of Britain’s subsequent wars.
“The executors of Maurice Sendak’s will have not complied with his wishes to bequeath his multimillion-dollar rare-book collection to the Rosenbach Museum and Library and for the revered author and illustrator’s work to continue to be displayed at the Rosenbach. So claims a lawsuit filed last week in northern Fairfield County, Conn., [by] the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.”
“The Oxford English Dictionary defines clickbait thusly: ‘(On the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.’ More colloquially, Josh Benton of Harvard’s Neiman Journalism Lab defined clickbait on Twitter (on the Internet) as ‘noun: things I don’t like on the Internet’.”
Montreal music blogger Sean Michaels took the award for his debut novel, Us Conductors, a thoroughly fictionalized account of the life of Leon Theremin, inventor of you-know-what.
Designer Christian Boer (who is himself dyslexic): “When they’re reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds. Traditional typefaces make this worse, because they base some letter designs on others, inadvertently creating ‘twin letters’ for people with dyslexia.”
“It wasn’t always this way. When Amazon first appeared, in the mid-90s, mailing books out of the Seattle garage of its founder, Jeff Bezos, it was greeted with enthusiasm. The company seemed like a useful counterweight to the big bookstore chains that had come to dominate the book-retailing landscape.”
“Why not just let books be books? The thing is that genre doesn’t have to be vexing. It can be illuminating. It can be useful for writers and readers to think in terms of groups and traditions. And a good genre system — a system that really fits reality — can help us see the traditions in which we’re already, unconsciously, immersed.”
“Little more than a year after launching its all-you-can-read ebook service, the San Francisco startup Scribd has announced that the service now offers more than 30,000 audiobooks, including titles from big-name publishing houses HarperCollins and Scholastic as well as audiobook-specialist Blackstone. For $8.99 a month, you can not only read as many books as you can find on the service, but also listen to as many audiobooks as you can find.”