It’s not about money. It’s about the senses. “As an empirical matter, reading on a tablet cannot remotely approach the sensual literary experience offered by an old-fashioned book. The latter is, I’d venture, intrinsically more pleasurable than the former, not unlike the intrinsic difference between high quality toilet paper and the sandpaper stuff used in bus stations.”
Oh heck, let’s read a few pages: “Where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth.”
Because we’re suddenly living in a dystopian novel, or something like it, we keep wanting to read more and more of them.
“The Times abruptly announced that it’s gutting its best-seller lists, doing away with a host of existing lists in both the print and online editions of the paper as of February 5. Among the casualties are the Graphic Hardcover, Graphic Paperback, and Manga categories. The comics world is, understandably, quite unhappy with the development.”
“One of the concerns in the early 19th century regarding book collecting was the fear that by hoarding books, buyers were denying their fellow countrymen their patrimony. The image of the rich dilettante was one of the conspicuous consumer of books that would never be read – the old TBR pile – therefore keeping books out of an intellectual commons. The collector was often portrayed as having a kind of antisocial disease that kept him from contributing to the greater good by sharing his printed riches.”
Rebecca Schuman (who, evidently, is still bitter over the Alan Sokal/Social Text incident), writes, “But now that we’ve just watched a sociopath with a fifth-grade vocabulary take the oath of office, … I have no choice but to come to jargon’s defense. Don’t worry: I’ll do it using small words.” (The commenters, however, are not having it.)
“1984‘s recent spike has been notable, but the novel has perpetually hovered on the bestseller list … For other works, though,” – by Sinclair Lewis, Hannah Arendt, and John Steinbeck – “their rise in popularity seems more directly linked to the emergence of Trump as a political leader.”
“Writers Group, as it’s known in the community, is a space for the homeless writers of downtown Boston (“homeless, transitional, or recently housed” is the rubric), and we meet every Tuesday morning at 9:30, in the basement of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Tremont Street. Out of Writers Group comes The Pilgrim, a literary magazine that I’ve been editing for the last five years. Large chunks of The Pilgrim are summoned into being, conjured from the chaos-state of potentiality, by Robert’s magic coffee.”
“The great modern nations boast great writers who depict and define the national life and character: Victor Hugo for the French, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the Germans, Leo Tolstoy the Russians, Herman Melville and Mark Twain the Americans, and Shakespeare the English. Of course their greatness is hardly confined to their parochial impact: They are masters for all time and every place. And even among these titans an order of rank is observed, as a true aristocracy requires, and it is Shakespeare who ranks supreme.”
As Merriam-Webster observes, “Claque means ‘a group hired to applaud at a performance’ or ‘a group of sycophants.'”
Katy Waldman: “For one thing, the phrase calls to mind the snake-oil salesmanship that has animated Trump’s rise to power.” (Waldman cites the ’70s term alternative medicine.) ” The modifier’s connotation of gutsy, even glamorous independence also lends credibility to the rogue alt-right … Most of all, alternative facts evokes a total alienation from – and disinterest in – objective truth.”
“Nielsen found that e-book unit sales from reporting publishers were down 16% in 2016 from 2015. Units fell the most in the juvenile fiction segment, where e-book sales dropped 28% in the year and accounted for 10% of total category unit sales in 2016, down from 14%. (E-books have never been a big factor in juvenile nonfiction and accounted for 1% of units sold in 2016.)”
The author is known to have made up, on the spot, many bedtime stories for his young daughters, but written notes have only ever been found (and may only have been made) for one – “The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.”
An Australian analyst for Credit Suisse tells The Australian (a national daily owned by a rival, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) says he expects Fairfax Media, owner of the Herald and The Age, to “formally outline its plans for a move to a digital only weekday model for the metro titles.”
While Fairfax Media has indicated in the past that ending print runs of weekday papers could be part of a long-term strategy, a spokesman for the chain said that “We have no plans to change from daily printing and we expect that to be the case for some years into the future.”
Raduan Nassar was forty-eight and at the height of his literary fame when, in 1984, he gave an interview with Folha de São Paulo, the country’s biggest daily newspaper, in which he announced his retirement. He wanted to become a farmer. “My mind is lit up with other things now; I’m looking into agriculture and stockbreeding,” he told the interviewer. Many were baffled.
You thought the Congressman’s books were selling out before? Now it’s won quite a few of the coveted youth awards. But here’s a list of all of the winners and honor books, including the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Printz and so many more, from this morning’s ALA Midwinter gathering in Atlanta.
“Wanting is not enough. I have wanted to climb a fourteener—here in Colorado, this is a peak over 14,000 feet—but I have yet to put in any effort to accomplish it. And unless I start training for a marathon hike, this will remain an unrealized ambition. Drive is the will to achieve. It is a state of mind that propels you to act. In the years before my book came out, I had the drive to write. I made compromises in order to have the time and space to make my art.”
Ottessa Moshfegh: “I think that’s what I’m interested in, this question of whether or not we are allowed to be other people. Are we allowed to change? Do we give ourselves permission to grow? Are we even capable of making those kinds of decisions? Is there a will, or are we just being pushed around by our own personalities, just fucked to be who we are?”
The 44th president cared – a lot – about books. What does that mean now?
A few dozen writers respond to a question from LitHub about what is necessary reading for the next four years. “As Paula Gunn Allen reminds us: ‘The root of oppression is the loss of memory.'”
“Though research has not done much for profanity, the opposite is not true. Neurologists have learned a great deal about the brain from studying how brain-damaged people use swearwords—notably, that they do use them, heavily, even when they have lost all other speech. What this suggests is that profanity is encoded in the brain separately from most other language.”
“The answer may lie with niche-filling shops like Pittsburgh’s new City of Asylum Books, part of a nascent multipurpose cultural center on the city’s North Side called Alphabet City Center. Alphabet City is a consolidated space recently acquired by City of Asylum, a nonprofit arts organization providing sanctuary and forums of expression for exiled writers of all genres from other countries, introducing many unsung voices to the Pittsburgh public through literary community events.”
George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo has 166 different characters, and for the audio version, he wanted to have each on them voiced by a different performer. Amazingly, Penguin Random House agreed – and you should see the astounding cast they’ve assembled. (includes video)
“Compiled by collector Jack V. Lunzer over more than six decades, and stored at his home in London, it became known as the Valmadonna Trust Library” – and it’s been acquired by the National Library of Israel.
“To have one’s novel translated – on one hand, an honor. On the other – you might as well be trying to have sex using another person’s body.” Now imagine that that body used to be yours, and you remember it. Boris Fishman tells the story of reading from the Russian translation of his A Replacement Life at a book tour event in Estonia.
“The demise of young Quaker poet Aquila Rose, while surely lamentable, is virtually forgotten. But this obscure death nearly three centuries ago is arguably among the most momentous deaths in Philadelphia’s 300-plus years – not for who Rose was, but for what he precipitated.”
“Writers know so little about how other writers make ends meet that it’s difficult for them to have much perspective on their own ability to do so.”
Irma Boom has been undertaking “a quixotic, endless undertaking of creating a library of what she called ‘only the books that are experimental.’ Above her studio here, the recently opened library is made up almost entirely of books from the 1600s and 1700s, and the 1960s and ’70s.