“Did Neruda want these to be read by the world? [Translator Forrest] Gander says when he first heard about the new poems he thought they were going to be terrible. Then he read them in Spanish and changed his mind.”
“Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well. “
“What made word-processing devices much more than just souped-up typewriters was not only that they gave you the ability to edit at the same time that you wrote, or that they eliminated or seriously curtailed the effort of correcting from typewritten pages. Seeing text revealed on a screen, even in the technologically costive form offered by the earliest word processors, provided an unprecedented opportunity to picture the manuscript as a whole and with an immediacy that typewriting didn’t permit.”
“According to a new Pew Research study, 76 percent of Americans say that libraries well serve the needs of their community. … Yet on the other hand, fewer and fewer Americans are using the institutions every year.” Why? Investment.
“All the writers start from scratch with their sources, calling friends and family caught in the midst of funeral planning, scanning yellowed clippings from the paper’s ‘morgue’ archives, and acting as their own fact checkers in the race against the evening’s deadline.”
“The Supreme Court let stand the lower court opinion that rejected the writers’ claims. That decision today means Google Books won’t have to close up shop or ask book publishers for permission to scan. In the long run, the ruling could inspire other large-scale digitization projects.”
The Feature Writing prize went to Kathryn Schulz for “The Really Big One,” about the potential for a massive earthquake in California; the magazine’s television critic, Emily Nussaum, took the award for criticism.
For instance, “literary types spent most of the fall arguing about A Little Life in the pages of various literary reviews [while] neither the London Review of Books nor the New York Review of Books has touched” this year’s fiction winner. (They will now.)
“I used to be a late starter, but now I get up in the dark like a medieval monk, commit unmediated scribble to a notebook, and go back to bed about six, hoping to sleep for another two hours and to wake slowly and in silence. Random noise, voices in other rooms, get me off to a savage, disorderly start, but if I am left in peace to reach for a pen, I feel through my fingertips what sort of day it is.”
“Our biggest year was when Borders closed. … We got a huge onflow from that!”
“The Nobel prize-winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante, Chinese dissident Yan Lianke, Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa, Austrian Robert Seethaler and South Korean Han Kang have all been shortlisted for the award, which celebrates the finest global fiction translated into English.”
We all know by now that advertising is no longer “advertising.” It’s “content.” But it’s not just “content.” It’s “organic” content. Or “authentic” content. Or “holistic” content — which is apparently different than “integrated” content. Or “optimized” content. Or “bespoke” content. (You think I’m making that up?) And of course, “viral” content — which everybody wants but nobody gets (unless it’s “catvertising”). There’s also “snackable” content and “ephemeral” content, but ain’t nobody got time to define them.
Scott Rogowsky has been getting video of the reactions of New Yorkers to such book titles as Definitely Not Porn | So What Are You Looking At? Mind Your Own Business; Human Taxidermy: A Beginner’s Guide; Slut-Shaming Your Baby; and 1,000 Places to See Before You’re Executed by ISIS.
“Both stories share the premise of a human body undergoing a change so abrupt and so drastic that the old body is unrecognizable in the new one. But there is a key difference. The Metamorphosis tells the story of a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one non-descript morning and finds he is a human-size bug. But in Blackass, Furo Wariboko wakes up and finds he has been transformed into a white man while his buttocks remain black.”
“The book industry is too complicated to distill into any one of those sweeping theses. Print books have persisted, but ebooks are not going away. Amazon is powerful, but physical bookstores are still here. The book is not immune to the powerful digital forces that have re-shaped so much of the rest of the world. At the same time, books have been able to resist the forces of change because books really are different.”
“Cervantes and Shakespeare almost certainly never met, but the closer you look at the pages they left behind the more echoes you hear. The first, and to my mind the most valuable shared idea is the belief that a work of literature doesn’t have to be simply comic, or tragic, or romantic, or political/historical: that, if properly conceived, it can be many things at the same time.”
“Hamilton: The Revolution” is out of stock on Amazon, with an expected wait of nine to 12 days for a copy. It was No. 2 on Barnes & Noble’s website. Grand Central Publishing spokesman Jimmy Franco says “Hamilton: The Revolution” already is going into its third printing, for a planned total of 210,000 copies.
Sara Nović: “Then there is my deafness, another kink in the mother tongue. Because of it, English, Croatian, or any spoken language can never truly be mine. … In American Sign Language, I am at home. Or at least, I’m at ease there – I see my reflection, and I can understand others without having to guess. … What does it mean to be a writer whose language negates the possibility of the written word?”
“Upon his death, in 1898, he left behind a body of work so inscrutable that it still causes literature students to fall to their knees in despair” – not least because it’s written in sonnets and alexandrines. “It is, however, precisely this tension between traditional form and radical content that keeps reactivating the shock of his writing.”
“The punch lines write themselves, but so do the checks. According to the publisher, 300 million books are in print, and the brand adds about 200 new titles a year. … Most importantly, a Dummies book assumes the reader is starting with zero knowledge on the topic. This is not a universal quality in the how-to world.”
‘Some writers reveal that they listen to music. They tell us their favorite bands and songs so we can steal some inspiration. These writers are cool—maybe even too cool. I picture big money, big headphones, and small packs of cigarettes on their desks. Some say they can’t listen to anything until they’re deep in the revision process; these writers seem reasonable enough, I guess, and might also be modest, responsible drinkers. The author who is said to require complete silence comes across as saintly and chaste. This writer must have a clean desk, drink tea, and make money very slowly.”
“‘The British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said ‘we’ve detected an early copy of this book on the Internet’,’ Newton told Australia’s ABC Radio in an interview.”
“Before we conjecture anything about this future, we need a way to conceive of the momentum that is affecting everything, most especially our interactions with others: our communications.”
“The 84-year-old journalist ventured out to Boston University last week, and made a series of simultaneously inane and offensive comments about female writers. Since that time, Talese has been the unsurprising object of mockery and scorn on Twitter and elsewhere. But within the same week, to less fanfare, Talese revealed an even darker side of himself via a massively long piece in the current issue of the New Yorker, titled ‘The Voyeur’s Motel.'”
“The books shift between morality tales and classic pulp romance. Often written by hand in small composition books, the books are sold in crowded marketplaces, where you can buy thousands of different titles for a dollar or two.” (text and audio)
“The cuts at the Biblioteca Nacional, once run by Jorge Luis Borges, were announced last Tuesday to ‘tears and cries of outrage’ … Staff had been phoned by authorities throughout the day to be given the news, which caused ‘fainting and nervous breakdowns’.”
“Library cards have always had the same purpose—to keep track of borrowers’ loans—but originally they were invented for a different type of library.”
“It’s great to receive a big wad of cash, of course, especially when you’re a writer with an erratic income trying to cobble together a living from part-time day jobs, intermittent advances, peripatetic teaching gigs and the occasional one-time grant. But unexpected sums bring unexpected burdens, both practical (What does this mean for my tax situation?) and psychological (Am I a fraud who does not deserve this money?)”
“If all we are doing as book critics is pretending there is such a thing as objective assessment of literature, we are failing at our jobs.”
The poet Adrienne Rich’s “radical feminist beliefs had a curiously distancing effect, often thought too blunt, too simplistic. It seems hard for people to imagine that these ideas could be the result of a complex mind, a complicated experience. And like many artists, Rich was wary of those who wanted to connect her work too closely to the shape of her life. When she died, she asked that her friends and family refrain from participating in any full-length biography; many of her archived letters to close friends are sealed until 2050.”