“In their annual report for the year ending in June 2015, the trustees of YUPL reported that the Press had had its second best year ever. But they also sounded a warning note: while sales remained strong, the margin was disappointing and it singled out the results of the ‘Art list’ as being in particular decline compared to others.”
Other than The Book of the Dead, few of the texts that have survived from the age of the pharaohs have been accessible to the general reader. “Tales of shipwreck and wonder, first-hand descriptions of battles and natural disasters, songs and satires make up [a new] anthology, titled Writings from Ancient Egypt.”
A vibrant ecosystem of independent crosswords — “indies” — exists on the internet, its component puzzles multiplying and evolving, finding their niche and trying to find ways to survive. And some of them can outrate the gold standard over at the Times.
“Artist and author Dennis Cooper re-launched his popular blog on Monday after months of legal disputes with Google, whom many accused of censorship. The artist posted a message on the blog’s Facebook account on Friday to explain Google’s reasoning for erasing his 14-year-old blog.” (It was a 10-year-old post.)
“According to the NEA, the share of adults who report reading literature has steadily fallen in recent years, from 47 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2013 and 43.1 percent in 2015.”
“In al-Sayyid, a Bedouin village in a remote corner of Israel’s Negev desert, … out of 4,000 residents, some 150 are deaf … Both hearing and deaf members of the community speak al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language, a local language that developed in the village as its deaf population grew.”
“[This will be] the first time Wired (or any other magazine) has been guest-edited by a sitting president. The theme of the issue: Frontiers. … For this completely bespoke issue, he wants to focus on the future – on the next hurdles that humanity will need to overcome to move forward.”
“Subway Reads will last longer than a summer romance, but not much longer. It was intended to promote something that will not disappear, something that transit officials see as a milestone in the digital age: Wi-Fi service in 175 underground stations.”
“The Library of America usually restricts itself to Melville, Twain, Hawthorne and the other distinguished dead. But a handful of times it has been so sure of a novelist’s importance that its austere black volumes started appearing while the writer was still alive. Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth got the call. Ursula K. Le Guin is now on this very short list.”
“I’d pick up others along the way. All would be serendipitous. I’m going to learn from them not only how to handle a book tour better, but how to *be* better, fully stop.”
“If you could pick a single writer to make an effective, compassionate statement about identity politics to a divided literary community, who would you pick? Would it be a schizophrenic, autistic person who’d authored an e-book called Space Raptor Butt Invasion?”
“We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to embrace newness but also hold on to legacy, hold on to culture, and not erase the actual places that we believe are sacred spaces of the Harlem Renaissance.”
“I am so excited when I begin a book. All of that possibility! All of that vision! Then the book hits me in the head with the work ahead of me.”
“Some would say that black people have a right to decide what they want to be called, and that that’s all there is to it. However, that answer is incomplete, and risks people merely classifying the matter as one more example of what Steven Pinker has artfully called the “euphemism treadmill.” We can do better than that.”
“Between 1550 and 1700, British authors and printers produced an unprecedented number of publications that reported on capital crimes. As literacy rates expanded and new print technologies emerged, topical leaflets began to circulate among newly literate and semiliterate consumers.” It was a respectable genre, “consumed primarily by literate members of the artisan class and above.”
Well, there are places where people think they do. Linguists may beg to differ.
“Kicking off what it hopes will be the largest global survey into people’s language gripes, the dictionary publisher is inviting English speakers around the world to answer a range of language-related questions under the #OneWordMap initiative, starting with the quest to find the least popular English word.” (includes current leading contender)
“The nightmare reviewer is the reviewer who has some sort of agenda that precludes him or her responding sincerely to the book. Often that agenda is seeming clever and/or taking someone who has received more than her fair share of attention down a notch. But again, there are people who are just on a different wavelength from you, and it’s not that they misunderstand your book — it’s that they really in their heart of hearts don’t like it. That’s actually fair.”
The Hugo awards ceremony “only represents tiny, insular, politically motivated cliques taking turns giving their friends awards,” Larry Coreia, a ringleader of the Puppies, argued in 2015. Because of this supposed conspiracy — for which there continues to be no real evidence — he felt justified in helping organize an actual conspiracy of his tiny, insular, politically motivated clique to flood the ballot with conservatives.
“Habitual engagement with others’ minds — even fictional ones” can bolster the sort of awareness that is essential for empathy, write psychologists David Kidd and Emanuele Castano of the New School for Social Research. Their study is published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.
The decline of intellectual life has been a trope of intellectual life since Socrates, who, Plato tells us, believed writing “will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.” More than 2,000 years later, the terms have shifted, but not the argument.
“I’m aware more than I was before I had books published that any review is a bit arbitrary – it’s not really, say, The New York Times that’s authoritatively weighing in on the quality of a book, though it seems this way to the public. It’s actually one reviewer weighing in (maybe a daily reviewer like you, but maybe a random novelist like me who reviews one or two books a year), and all of us as individuals have quirky, subjective taste.”
“Few in the speculative fiction community were surprised that the 2016 Hugo Award for Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy ballot was beleaguered for the second year in a row by a slate of trolls calling themselves the Sad Puppies, with their right-wing pals the Rabid Puppies in tow (seriously, these names).”
“My parents were both village teachers. The village was full of women. And they had to work very hard during the day, there were no men left in the village, and after they were done with work – the village was full of benches – they would all come outside and they would talk. It was scary to listen to them, but it was also very interesting. They talked about war about death about loss, because some lost their husbands recently and this was much more exciting and much more interesting than reading the books that we had in the house.”
“After undergoing a vicious attack by caste leaders in his home state of Tamil Nadu, his novel One Part Woman last month was the subject of a landmark court decision defending the right of artists to critically depict their own communities. Recent interest in [Perumal] Murugan’s work has exploded, with five novels coming out, translated into English from the original Tamil. But Mr. Murugan seems unsure of what kind of writer he will be now.”
“If we think of a library as a city and a book as an individual house in that city, each sentence becomes one tiny component of that house. Some are mostly functional – the load-bearing wall, the grout between the bathroom tiles – while others are the details we remember and take away, perhaps recalling their texture and colour when we assemble our own verbal dwelling-place.”
“Siloe, which specialises in making facsimiles of old manuscripts, has bought the rights to make 898 exact replicas of the Voynich – so faithful that every stain, hole, sewn-up tear in the parchment will be reproduced.”
“Before there can be books, there has to be work: cleaning, sanding, painting, moving.”
“The immediate takeaway from last night’s awards is that like last year, a slate of works pushed onto the ballot by a coordinated campaign has considerable trouble actually succeeding, and where it does, it’s where slated works are considered universally popular.”
“I’m removed from the city but I can see it, hear it, smell it. When I first started to work here I thought it would be a good place to meet interviewers or have research discussions, but that idea quickly evaporated. I like it that no one else comes here.”