ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


A Tale Of Two Booksellers, Just Off The Kabul Bazaar

"One is a former communist, the other a former mujahid. Both have witnessed and participated in Afghanistan's turbulent history over the past half century. They have seen the rise and fall of regimes and today sell books about the men who made and unmade them." - Newlines

Great Storytelling? Try America’s Mass Market Novels

To take a genre or mass-market work seriously means recognizing the quiet skill in its pages. - The Atlantic

The Danish Language Is So Weird That Even Danish Kids Have Trouble Learning It

Researchers "have found that the uniquely peculiar way that Danes speak" – mangled consonants and 40 different vowel sounds – "seems to make it difficult for Danish children to learn their native language – and this challenges some central tenets of the science of language." - The Conversation

New York Times Experiments With Insta/Twitter To Focus Stories

"You have the copy of the tweet, a couple of lines in the card, and then it’s just a lot more information and context, and everyone knows that context can be lacking on social.” - NiemanLab

This Flight Attendant Wrote A Hair-Raising Novel By Jotting It On Cocktail Napkins

Author T.J. Newman: "I said , 'What would you do if your family was kidnapped and you were told that if you didn't crash the plane, they'd be killed?' I knew by the look on his face that I'd struck a nerve. He was terrified. He didn't have an answer. And I knew I had a story." - The New York Times

Why Writers Need Agents

Writers need agents more than agents need writers. They have needed them since the late 19th century, when an increasingly literate public fed by the magazines and single-volume prints made possible by the invention of Linotype printing created a lucrative industry. - The Guardian

A Battle Between Under-40s And Over-40s At Publishing Houses

“The distinction really is between social media natives who don’t really treasure free speech because they’ve had a lifetime’s worth and think it’s overrated, and people of an older generation who didn’t have access to the means of cultural production and needed the patronage of newspapers and publishing houses to get their voices heard.” - The Observer

Donald Barthelme, Maybe The Least Likely New Yorker Writer Ever

"By most standards, many of his stories aren't stories at all. They don't have plots, or even realistic, believable characters. … In the manner of visual artists like Duchamp and Rauschenberg, they incorporated all sorts of found materials: snippets from ad copy, old travel guides, textbooks, and instruction manuals, even other writers." - Literary Hub

Book Sales Soar Year-Over-Year (Duh!)

It comes as little surprise that statistics newly released by the Association of American Publishers found that total sales for the 1,358 publishers that report results to the association jumped 43.7% in April 2021 over the same period last year. - Publishers Weekly

A New American Heroine: Sapphire’s ‘Push’ At 25

Tayari Jones: "The miracle of Sapphire's gift is that she weaves her sharp social commentary and critique into the fabric of this story without shredding its fibres. This is a novel about people and their problems, not problems and their people.." - The Guardian

Louis Menand Takes On O. Henry

In New York, he began producing at an astonishing rate. He contracted to write a story a week for the Sunday World, and he continued to write for magazines. In 1904 alone, he published sixty-six stories. - The New Yorker

A Social History Of The Asterisk

By the eighteenth century the asterisk was being deployed as a sort of censorship, covering up letters to represent a d**n vulgar word without actually b**y spelling it out. But, as W. Somerset Maugham points out, this has become somewhat outmoded. - Lapham's Quarterly

The Path To Being An Audiobook Narrator

Training in theatre helps a lot, and so does stamina. - LitHub

Writer Brandon Taylor On His Summer Reading Goals

This year, it's all Freud. Why? The author of Real Life and Filthy Animals: "At the start of the year I read a lot of American mid-century critics, people like Lionel Trilling and Alfred Kazin. They kept talking about Freud. I realized I should read Freud because he’s had such an impact on contemporary literature. It had immediate dividends. I read the new Rachel Cusk novel, Second Place, and it was really Freudian to me." - MSN (Boston Globe)

The Orwell Prizes Go To Up-To-The-Moment Political Books

Ali Smith won for her Summer, the concluding novel in her seasonal quartet - and one that encompasses Brexit, Australian wildfires, COVID-19, and the murder of George Floyd. She cited Orwell’s combination of political writing and art as an inspiration. "The place where these two things meet can’t not be a place of humane – and inhumane – revelation." - The Guardian (UK)

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