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Archive for the ‘links’ Category

  • cecil to his friends
    • Can you recognize well-known authors on style alone? I did fairly well, though I shamefully missed the first one and there’s an inclusion near the bottom that raised my eyebrows to my hairline in incredulity at that writer’s inclusion. This is similar to the blind quiz I am dreaming of to determine if there is or is not a distinct “program fiction” style.
    • Ever wonder what Bolano read? Me too!
    • A consideration of Virginia Woolf’s criticism. And a picture of her bedroom.
    • JK Rowling’s next book sounds absolutely … like something I would never want to read. I don’t think she’s a very talented plotter and have been skeptical about the viability of any future books but this sounds remarkably uninteresting. From the synopsis, it seems more like the type of book that sells predominantly to middle aged bookclubby women, something like Alexander McCall Smith, than something that would appeal to her existing fanbase, adult or otherwise. I am much less excited on behalf of my workplace than I was at its initial announcement.
    • Fortune has a short article on the ebook knockoffs that proliferate on Amazon. Alternate title:  why we should fear the demise of publishers. Speaking of that, I’m quaking. You should be too. (Note:  Dennis of Melville House is not in any way unbiased in his Amazon coverage, and I don’t agree with everything about his stance [I think amazon has done a great deal of good, really] but he’s always got the most thorough coverage.)
    • In cheerier news:  the BTBA shortlist has been revealed. I am pleased with my clairvoyance:  all of the ones I randomly chose to read are on the list; I even bought Stone Upon Stone two days before this announcement. Can’t wait to read it to see if it ousts the fantastic In Red as my hoped-for winner.
    • While examining the L.A. Review of Books’ new website, I came across an old article on Charles Portis. I disagree with author Cline’s suggestion that Mattie Ross’s unreliability is a flaw–for me, that’s exactly what makes the book particularly interesting and especially brilliant!–and the link between Mattie’s “inaccessible” character and the mystery of Portis-as-person is a little tremulous, but nevertheless I am happy to see Portis receive more attention.
    • I have two opinions on the Pulitzer’s refusal to award a prize, and they cancel each other out to create a pleasantly unanguished state of unopinion. On one hand, I am sorry and a bit angry over loss of sales. Optimists are spinning this as an opportunity for booksellers to handsell the titles we personally thought should have won, but … we do that anyway. And, frankly, not everyone is receptive to it. There are lots of people who want to be told what to read by an unshakeable authority, and who don’t trust the word of the girl behind the counter. Most of my Pulitzer devotees are just not going to make that purchase this year. It’s a damn shame, and I’m sorry on behalf of my business.  But on the other hand, and thinking from my personal rather than professional perspective, I think this is actually rather brave and it’s a choice that raises my respect for the integrity of the award. Because, frankly, the jurors did a terrible job of creating a shortlist. Two of the books were borderline in their eligibility by some standards (one incomplete, the other a novella originally published almost ten years ago) while the other was just terrible. I would have given the award to Train Dreams, probably, but it’s problem–that it’s not, in any way of considering it, reflective of 2011 in book given that it was published in 2003–irks me so much that I would not do so on principle. In conclusion:  boo to the jurors, who fail at their job; hurrah to the Pulitzer board, for the brave and unconventional n0nchoice; and tears for my workplace, which suffers.
    • In honor of the newest addition to my household, pictured above, here’s an impressive collection of notorious typewriters (via the book bench).
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Nabokov's The Defense, designed by Paul Sahre

  • 500 new fairy tales were discovered in a vault in Germany. I never grew up into the folklorist I thought, as a child, I might, but I still find this news item quite bizarre and exciting.
  • JStor launches a beta of “Register and Read,” a free program to allow (capped, limited, but still) access to those not affiliated with academic institutions. Because I am not, this pleases me, though frankly I am unlikely to use it very often despite good intentions.
  • The Millions has a nice little article on the pleasures of used bookstores as mausoleums for deceased texts. The antiquarian book trade is an uneasy island of hope amidst the constant fretting about the Fate of the Book that is my worklife. 
  • I encourage the interested–fans of either Nabokov, cover design, or both–to spend some time reading Salon’s interview with John Bertram, the editor of a new book that collects cover designs of Lolita more in line with its horrific subject than the usual erotic offerings. This article in turn leads to Jacket Copy’s excellent two part case study on the difficulty of designing for the book, here and here. All fascinating considerations of how cover design can change both popular conception and critical consideration of a text (though of course the movie versions are also huge element in cementing the pop culture meaning of the term “lolita”).
  • Related to Jacket Copy:  is Peter Mendelsund perhaps one of the great cover designers of our times? Take a look at his covers–I guarantee that you’ll recognize more than one of them as iconic. I don’t love everything he does but he’s responsible for some of my favourites–the Peavar & Volokhonsky translations of Russian literature and the new Kafkas in particular. Here’s an interview with him over at Caustic Cover Critic, also interesting.
  • I’m in a particularly associative mood today. All this cover-thought has reminded me how much I loved Vintage Press’s recent redesign of the Nabokov covers (which Mendelsund contributed to:  he did King, Queen, Knave and it’s lovely). I already own most every Nabokov in various well-loved and unmatched editions but I am awfully tempted nonetheless by this set–the matchiness of it all, the conceit of the specimen box, and the three dimensional design element of these all tickle my covetous nature. I blame my job:  ever since I started at the bookstore I’ve developed a weakness for set collecting and attractive covers (dangerous!).

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bookish paraphernalia

  • The Best Translated Book Awards longlist has been announced! As usual, I haven’t read any of them, but a couple have been on The List, and most of the rest are being added promptly. French is heavily represented, which I’ll have to look into–I’m not wild about contemporary fiction from France, but have enjoyed what I’ve read from other various French-speaking countries. V. excited to see two new-to-me Polish writers on the list–I’ve been wanting to explore Polish literature beyond its poetry.
  • New things:  the new Zadie Smith has a cover and I like it, maybe; it looks to me like there might be some cut-out layering going on here which is aesthetically pleasing but difficult to shelve at work without horrible tearing. I don’t always love or even like Smith’s fiction but am convinced that she and I could be BFFs and so I will certainly read this. I hope it’s genre–I seem to recall a statement from her saying she was going to explore genre, but I can’t find it now so maybe I’m just being wishful. New Junot Diaz–I was excited until I saw it was short stories, sigh. (Beleaguered Internet, you will quickly become impatient with my denigration of the short story.) AND, best of all, the sequel to Wolf Hall is coming so soon! It has a cover! A cover that I strongly dislike–it doesn’t go with Wolf Hall‘s design at all, and the purple + yellow combination is distracting and silly and not in the least foreboding as it should be–but still.
  • An “expose” on what it’s like to work at one of amazon’s shipping centers, via amazon watchdogs extraordinaire, mobylives. Apparently they’re evil and it sucks…? Though I can’t imagine anyone naive enough to think that picking items for online shipping would be a cushy, low-stress job with minimal physical wear and tear, so the import of this is quite debatable.
  • This is a few days late and I have no idea how long it will last, but NYRB Classics is doing a winter sale–50% off select titles. This is extremely fortuitous for me:  I was just coveting The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns after reading the beguiling Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead a few weeks ago and lo! what should be included in the sale but this same book!? Clearly this is fate.

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