“Sadly, the parks rarely get much attention on the national stage unless some knucklehead displaces a cute little baby bison or tries to feed a grizzly bear. But in this year when the Park Service is celebrating its centennial with all sorts of hand-wringing about the future, it’s instructive to remember how language can save landscape. Powerful prose has been put to good use in the cause of America’s Best Idea.”
“There’s more than a little irony to the impending collapse of Barnes & Noble. The mega-retailer that drove many small, independent booksellers out of business is now being done in by the rise of Amazon. But while many book lovers may be tempted to gloat, the death of Barnes & Noble would be catastrophic—not just for publishing houses and the writers they publish, but for American culture as a whole.”
In Ben Lerner’s account, poetry is the perfect medium for failure. Even great poems, he claims, perform this failure by suggesting the transcendent in their absence. “You can only compose poems that, when read with perfect contempt, clear a place for the genuine Poem that never appears.”
“The school says acclaimed writer Steven Galloway was suspended in November of last year while an investigation was completed over what it said were serious allegations of misconduct. Addition complaints were also received after he was suspended and former B.C. Supreme Court justice Mary Ellen Boyd was appointed to conduct an investigation.”
“The manufacture of typewriters in India might have come to a halt, but in Goa, as in the rest of the country, there are plenty of machines still going clackety-clack. Government-run offices, village schools, and other rural administrative offices still use typewriters for work such as drawing up contracts or bills.”
“There’s more than a little irony to the impending collapse of Barnes & Noble. The mega-retailer that drove many small, independent booksellers out of business is now being done in by the rise of Amazon. But while many book lovers may be tempted to gloat, the death of Barnes & Noble would be catastrophic – not just for publishing houses and the writers they publish, but for American culture as a whole.”
“A sort of asteroid has hit the safe world of Russian literature in English translation. A couple named Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have established an industry of taking everything they can get their hands on written in Russian and putting it into flat, awkward English.” (includes side-by-side excerpts from Anna Karenina in P&V’s translation and Constance Garnett’s)
“It is 200 years since ‘The Year Without a Summer’, when a sun-obscuring ash cloud – ejected from [Mount Tambora] – caused temperatures to plummet the world over. Gillen D’Arcy Wood looks at the humanitarian crisis triggered by the unusual weather, and how it offers an alternative lens through which to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a book begun in its midst.”
“Two hundred years ago, describing someone as ‘devouring’ a book would have been an act of moral censure. The long, turbulent relationship between reading and eating is invisible to modern eyes, yet in our media-soaked culture, it is more pertinent than ever. The unexamined language of ‘devouring’ idealises one kind of reading at the expense of others, leaving readers impoverished.”
“Suddenly, an increasing number of independent presses are going into the retail book business, morphing into full-service community hubs for book browsing and expanded literary programming. Some see retail floor space as an opportunity to bring more customers and supporters to their front doors. Others see it as an important source of income to support the publishing. All say it fulfills their missions as the literary hearts of their communities.”
“Refugee Tales features stories including [Chris] Cleave’s ‘The Lorry Driver’s Tale’, [Ali] Smith’s ‘The Detainee’s Tale’, [Marina] Lewycka’s ‘The Dependant’s Tale’ … [The book] stems from refugee charity the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, which sends volunteers into the two detention centres at Gatwick airport to speak to the hundreds of people who are held there.”
“If you are an emerging writer now, there are more channels for you to get in front of the eyeballs of a publisher but you have to do a lot of the work yourself. There’s less work done by editors and publishers – they wait for writers to come to them with manuscripts that are fully formed.”
“Out of all our matches, 21% had related reading tags in common. This is much stronger than the average of 15% for all other matches that similar matches with music, films, or TV,” says MyBae, adding that “users spent longer in general” on the profiles of people with reading tags.
“The female writers, for whatever reason (men?), don’t much believe in heroes, which makes their kind of storytelling perhaps a better fit for these cynical times. Their books are light on gunplay, heavy on emotional violence. Murder is de rigueur in the genre, so people die at the hands of others—lovers, neighbors, obsessive strangers—but the body counts tend to be on the low side.”
“The evidence suggests that reading to a dog may have a beneficial effect on a number of behavioural processes which contribute to a positive effect on the environment in which reading is practiced, leading to improved reading performance,” they write.
“Maciej Szpunar, advocate general to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said in an opinion published (PDF) Thursday morning that public libraries should be allowed to lend e-books so long as the author is fairly compensated.”
“Etymologist and poet Anatoly Liberman, author of Word Origins and How We Know Them, says English is one of the most difficult languages to spell. But we can change that.” (podcast)
“Like everything else, the way we read changes with time and age. The books I find engrossing now still have the power to make the world around me vanish. But I can’t inhabit them as I did with my childhood favorites.”
Ernie Smith offers tidbits from the history of those little sheets and their coiled cousin, microfilm – from the invention of the process for making and reading them back in the mid-19th century to when carrier pigeons transported microfilmed documents across enemy lines to the adoption of microfilm and -fiche by libraries to the thing the medium is still well-suited for today.
“Misplaced library books frustrate patrons and give librarians migraines. The whole system relies on books being precisely in their proper location. … [Researchers in Singapore] have created an autonomous shelf-scanning robot called AuRoSS that can tell which books are missing or out of place … and instruct librarians how to get the books back in order when they arrive in the morning.”
“Until now, the knowledge that ancient manuscripts were used to make cartonnage has presented an ethical quandary to scholars. Books and other artifacts have been destroyed in the hopes of discovering something more precious hidden inside. The stakes are even higher when it comes to Egyptian mummy masks because there are comparably few ancient manuscripts, and certain texts—Plato, the Bible, and Homer—are culturally and financially viable to Westerners.”
“Between 2011 and 2014, our booming city gained 50,000 residents. But in that period, total branch visits to the Seattle Public Library (SPL) declined by 150,000, or 2.3 percent — even with a significant increase in branch hours.”
“Nearly all of the more than 100 books graded by Book Marks seem to be worth reading, which renders it somewhat useless as a recommendation resource, which wasn’t lost on many of its early readers. But that’s not how Lit Hub editor-in-chief Jonny Diamond pitches the site anyway.”
“For years the city was a Rust Belt punch line to those too ill-informed to experience the tough beauty of the place. And yet economics can be destiny, which is why it’s heartening, surprising, and in some sense worrying to see Pittsburgh discovered now by national magazines and newspapers which are always looking for the next location, a new Portland or Austin where arty people with expendable cash can drink craft beer and go to pop-up art galleries.”
“David Hirshey, the senior vice president and executive editor of HarperCollins, called Ali ‘the perfect prism through which to view sports, race, religion, politics, celebrity, comedy, tragedy.'”
“The process of editing was so different as well, because when I’m writing my nonfiction books I’m quite open to it, but of course it’s very different when it’s a story that you’ve invented. When someone’s saying: “I’m not quite sure why”, you think: do I want to clarify that or is that telling me that I need to deepen the mystery around it?”
We want too much from poetry. We want it ” — to defeat time, to still it beautifully; to express irreducible individuality in a way that can be recognized socially or … to achieve universality by being irreducibly social,” and so much more. “The one thing all these demands share is they can’t ever be fulfilled with poems.”
“Perhaps you’ve experienced the feeling the French sociologist Roger Caillois called ‘ilinx’ – an elated disorientation caused by random acts of destruction, such as kicking over the office recycling bin. … Learning new words for emotions can also bring feelings to life. Discover the definition of a new emotion, and you’ll almost certainly find yourself re-organizing your inner world, seeing vague or amorphous sensations as concrete instances of a recognizable category of experience.”
“In the real world, the dawn of the written word incited the same kinds of anxieties that accompany any new technology that reorders people’s relationship with information. Socrates worried that writing would destroy human memory. And, indeed, the oral tradition was, across many cultures, upended by print. In the Victorian era, people were cautioned that reading fiction would make their minds atrophy. The telegraph, telephone, television, and internet, among other technologies, have all prompted similar concerns about how technology might destroy intellectual rigor.”
Thanks to instant messaging and the character limits of Twitter, the use of one of the most basic items of English grammar seems to be falling out of fashion. And when a period is used, especially in text messages and tweets, it can take on unfriendly overtones that may surprise older folks.