On the whole, books are less finite than ourselves. Even the worst among them outlast their authors. … Often they sit on the shelves absorbing dust long after the writer himself has turned into a handful of dust. Yet even this form of the future is better than the memory of a few surviving relatives or friends on whom one cannot rely, and often it is precisely the appetite for this posthumous dimension which sets one’s pen in motion.
A literary era passes. It was already past, yet it still has influence. Maybe the biggest. Because ArtsJournal was down yesterday—I know not why—I couldn’t post this. The world didn’t miss it. My account is minimal in the scheme of things but here ‘tiz anyhow, excerpted from ‘My Adventures in Fugitive Litrichur.’
How do journalists cover a crucial and complex topic like COVID-19 in this era of polarization and soundbites? Besides the challenge of quickly translating life-and-death medical and technical information to a broad audience, how do they guard against misinformation, lies, and the politicization of science? How can they dig through the many layers to bring lifesaving facts to the public?
The New York Review of Books will present a discussion about the ways contemporary journalism has addressed moments of political and social crisis. The program, Journalism in a Time of Crisis, is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m., featuring Justine van der Leun, Howard French, Elizabeth Bruenig, Mark Danner, and Darryl Pinckney.
A husband returns to the cabin after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Since it is a beautiful day, his wife takes the boat out on the lake. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book. Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. Read what happens next.
One by yours truly, “Your Obituary Is Waiting.” It’s a collection of “deformed sonnets,” with German translations by Gregor Pott and “flypaper collages” by Norman Ogue Mustill as counterpoint. The book design by Robert Schalinski, the paper, and the print quality are to die for, no pun. The other is “The Return” by William Cody Maher, also bilingual, with German translations by Walter Hartmann and photos by Signe Mähler, designed by Ralph Gabriel. And again the quality of the production is stunning. Furthermore, in a joint production, Moloko and Sea Urchin Editions have released “The Ex-Terr Poems” by Ed Sanders with his drawings, in an English-only edition, designed by Anneke Auer. I haven’t seen the book itself but I would bet the quality of the artifact matches the others.
Some would call it visibility. If you’re talking books, how about millions upon millions of Youtube views for a reading from Supervert’s ‘Necrophilia Variations.’ A dozen years ago when that video had two million views, I called it “viral reading.” Three years later, on Dec. 30, 2015, the video had 18.6 million views. Today it has some 28 million views. So what has this meant for selling the book?
“For a quarter-century, from the end of Watergate to the aftermath of the Cold War, no Republican won the presidency without the help of James A. Baker III or ran the White House without his advice. Now two major political journalists, Peter Baker (of The New York Times) and Susan Glasser (of The New Yorker) have written ‘The Man Who Ran Washington,’ a definitive, page-turning biography of the power broker whose impact was unmatched when Washington ran the world and who influenced America’s destiny for generations. The authors join in a discussion with Kai Bird, executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography.”