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December 13, 2013
"Down With Long-Form Journalism!" Says The Atlantic's Editor-In-Chief
James Bennet: "I have had it with long-form journalism. By which I mean - don't get me wrong - I'm fed up with the term long-form
itself, a label that the people who create and sell magazines now invariably, and rather solemnly, apply to their most ambitious work."
The Atlantic 12.12.13
What's Worse Than Snark? Smarm (Says Tom Scocca)
December 12, 2013
One of the Web's more accomplished snarkmeisters argues that the push by some goody-goodies for more niceness on the Internet - for instance, the decision by BuzzFeed's new books editor to avoid negative reviews, or, in Scocca's opinion, almost anything Dave Eggers says - is worse than the problem it's trying to address.
Pew Poll: Americans LOVE Their Public Libraries
December 11, 2013
"Some 90% of Americans ages 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an impact on their community, with 63% saying it would have a "major" impact."
Amy Tan On Writing "Microscopically"
December 10, 2013
"I've found that the way to capture the truth of a character - and beyond that, to reflect the truth of how I feel - is to write microscopically. To focus on all the tiny details that, together, make sense of character. Each person's perspective is absolutely unique; my job is to unearth all the specific events and associations that form an individual consciousness."
The Atlantic 12.10.13
The Kinda Creepy Mistakes People Are Finding In Google Book Scans
"Scavengers obsessively comb through page after page of Google Books, hoping to stumble upon some glitch that hasn't yet been unearthed. This phenomenon is most thoroughly documented on a Tumblr called The Art of Google Books, which collects two types of images: analog stains that are emblems of a paper book's history and digital glitches that result from the scanning."
The New Yorker 12/05/13
The Great Literary Feuds Of 2013
December 9, 2013
"Among this year's conflicts, presented here in rough chronological order, a few themes emerge: clashes over the function of online literary criticism, questions about gender and literature, and struggles over who controls an artist's legacy and fortune."
The New Yorker 12.09.13
How American Literature Has Gotten Tangled Up In Bureaucracy
"In particular, the obsession with codifying, regulating, recording, reviewing, verifying, vetting, and chronicling, with assessing achievement, forecasting achievement, identifying weak points, then establishing commissions for planning strategies for regular encounters to propose solutions to weak points, and further commissions empowered to apply for funding to pay for means to implement these solutions, and so on."
New York Review of Books 12/05/13
Why Your Book Failed?
December 8, 2013
Do you think the editor's decision to refrain from intervening in the text was an instance of the dereliction of standards in the publishing industry, or was it an indication of lingering prudence and respect for the practice of literature within what the author would invariably refer to as the "military-industrial publishing complex"?
The New Yorker 12/06/13
You'll Poke Your Eye Out (With That Stack Of Books)
December 6, 2013
"Even mediocre plots have a way of sinking their hooks into you, until you find yourself concerned for the fates of characters who aren't even fully convincing. But even so, there were moments when I began to doubt the whole enterprise of fiction writing itself."
The New York Times 12/07/13
Hannah Arendt's Failure Of Imagination
Richard Brody: "Her mechanistic view of Eichmann's personality, as well as her abstract and unsympathetic consideration of the situation of Jews under Nazi rule, reflect her inability to consider the experiences of others from within."
The New Yorker 12.04.13
Saudi Religious Police Ban Arabic Equivalent Of Twilight
December 5, 2013
The kingdom's notorious Committee for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue has ordered bookstores to remove from their shelves the popular fantasy novel HWJN
, about a young djinni who falls in love with a human woman. Among the Committee's objections: the young woman's use of a Ouija board.
Melville House 12.05.13
How The Letter "E" Died (Yeah, Really)
"Long considered one of the most influential letters in the Roman alphabet, at the turn of the century E had originally been heralded as the signal letter in the digital world. But in recent years, the letter had suffered a series of debilitating setbacks that closely correlated with the rise of online applications. It died May 20, 2013."
Bad Sex Award Goes To Manil Suri And His Shoals Of Atomic Nuclei
December 4, 2013
"Among the pools of sweat, ripe brie, knotted vines, hot stones, damp glades and chocolatey tobacco in this year's entries, it was the exploding supernovas of Manil Suri's third novel, The City of Devi
, that clinched him the most dreaded award in the world of books: the Literary Review
bad sex prize."
The Guardian (UK) 12/03/13
New Bill In U.S. Congress Could Make College Textbooks Free
December 3, 2013
"[That] is the idea behind the Affordable College Textbook Act, a bill recently introduced in Congress by Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken. The bill would create a grant program that would support the creation and use of so-called 'open textbooks,' meaning textbooks that are licensed under terms that allow them to be accessed and distributed for free."
Melville House 12/04/13
Why Are Lists The Crack Cocaine Of Journalism?
"Despite the growing derision of listicles exemplified by the comic, numbered lists--a venerable media format--have become one of the most ubiquitous ways to package content on the Web."
The New Yorker 12/02/13
Rare Biblical Texts From Bodleian And Vatican Libraries Digitized
December 2, 2013
"A Gutenberg Bible, a dazzlingly illuminated 15th-century Hebrew Bible from Spain and a copy of Maimonides's 12th-century commentary on the Mishnah written in the philosopher's own hand are among the rare bibles and biblical commentaries from the Vatican Library and the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford that have been digitized and posted online."
The New York Times 12/02/13
Will Ebooks Build An African Book Culture?
December 1, 2013
"More than 160 million people are now connected throughout the continent, mostly on mobile phones. With internet access surging and connectivity increasing, the doors are being thrown open to digital publishing."
Don't Look To E-Books For Reinventing The Experience Of Reading
"Even as the universe of printed matter continues to shrivel, the book -- or at least some of its best-known features -- is showing remarkable staying power online. The idea is apparently embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind."
The New York Times 12/02/13
Is Science Fiction A Genre In Crisis?
Its problem "comprises the generic-ness from which the label genre stems: in this case, the outdated stylistic tics and aesthetics of a marginal pulp-modernist medium, the clichés, the well-worn assumptions and comfortable call-backs, and the outdated institutional values in which they were nurtured and framed."
Los Angeles Review of Books 12/01/13
Novelist Error Messages
"Cannot proceed with this manuscript because the plot cannot be found in the first third of the text."
Maggie Stiefvater 11/30/13
How Modern Is Charles Dickens? Look To The Bestseller Lists
"Writers as different as Martin Amis and Chicago's Scott Turow have spoken to me of the tidal pull of Dickens on their imaginations; so, more recently, have Elizabeth Gilbert and Donna Tartt, whose current best-sellers ('The Signature of All Things' and 'The Goldfinch,' respectively) display their Dickensian affinities like badges of honor."
Chicago Tribune 11/27/13
Lighting Up The Mysterious Process Of Writing (And Reading)
November 29, 2013
The Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is writing a novella "while a battery of sensors and cameras track his brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response ... and facial expressions." Fifty readers will also get hooked up to sensors when the book comes out - and then let the data crunching begin.
The New York Times 11/30/13
Rare Book Thefts In Naples (And Where's The Librarian?)
November 27, 2013
"The very man charged with protecting these treasures, Marino Massimo De Caro, a politically connected former director of the library, is accused of being at the center of a network of middlemen, book dealers and possibly crooked conservators -- all part of what prosecutors say is a sometimes corrupt market for rare books in which much is spent and few questions are asked."
The New York Times 11/29/13
Optimistic: A Rise In The Number Of Independent Bookstores
"With Amazon.com's ever increasing presence, it may be surprise to hear that there are more independent bookstores now than there were four years ago. Among the likely reasons: the closure of hundreds of Borders stores and the buy local movement."
America's Oldest Book Is Now Most Expensive Printed Volume Ever
The Bay Psalm Book, a new translation from the Hebrew of the Biblical Psalms printed in Massachusetts in 1640 for the use of Puritan worshipers, was sold by Boston's Old South Church at a Sotheby's auction for $14.6 million.
CNN 11/26/13 (includes slide show)