Guardian/Linda Grant: ‘I have killed my books’.
I cull infrequently. I’m still at odds with how to deal with my ebooks. They need a coating of dust and a spritz of leather-smell before they get really good.
The British Library/Romantics and Victorians: The Ball in the novels of Jane Austen.
Slate: How should editors edit? Two Slate editors debate.
“I am usually trying to get my writers to stop making simple things complicated.” Best part of the interview.
LaurenceKing.com: Five Minutes with Art Director and Design Writer Steven Heller.
“Smart. Witty. Edgy. Traditional. A ‘classic’ is anything that has one or all of these traits, but more importantly it’s designed to compliment the content and that content has to be something that provides the raw material of later history. Classic is a very fungible word. Just surviving could make something classic.”
The Nation: University Presses Under Fire.
IMHO, the mistake is expecting university presses to pay their way. There are many things that *need* to be published, that will never make more than two nickels to rub together. When they lay off their professional editing staff (people who know their narrow niches almost as well as the authors) and start using generalist freelancers, it’s the end of good scholarly works. UP’s are a mere shadow of their former glory, and this fact hurts us all, one way or another.
ArtDaily: Young people could be struggling to engage with the classics.
We’re so distant in chronological time, almost all context is gone. The details of prior centuries’ culture are no longer perpetuated. Downton Abbey doesn’t count; it’s not enough.
The Archaeology News Network: Romania’s Castle Dracula up for sale?
“The castle that inspired the setting of gothic horror story Dracula is open to bids from buyers - but a new owner would need to stump up an estimated £50 million to have any chance of a look-in.” Bloody hell.
Yahoo News: Rush Limbaugh wins children’s book award.
“Nominees are selected by the most objective method possible, sales, while the winners are supposedly picked by kids, who vote online. But executive director Robin Adelson of the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, nonprofit organizations that co-founded the awards seven years ago, acknowledged Thursday that adults could easily vote and vote multiple times, a problem not uncommon for Internet competitions.” Internet voting! Why bother?
Wired: Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century.
Gross, yes, but also incredibly educational.
Mashable: Go Ahead, Order the Bacon. But Go Light on the Fruit, Author Says.
“Since 1980, when the USDA issued its guidelines, Americans’ fat consumption has fallen by 14% while our overall consumption of fat has dropped 5%. In those ensuing 34 years, U.S. obesity rates have skyrocketed. Are those two related? Teicholz, like science reporter Gary Taubes before her, makes a case that they are. Simply put, eating more carbohydrates makes us fatter.”
The Millions: The Literature of the Standing Desk.
“For writers, the standing desk has a long and prestigious lineage. It’s often seen as a workhorse of productivity and inspiration. Great novels and speeches, treaties and philosophical tracts, have all been written at the height of the sternum. Kierkegard, Dickens, Hemingway, Woolf, Nabokov, Churchill, and Thomas Jefferson all used them. ”
MessyNessyChic: The Lost Desert Libraries of Chinguetti.
Wow. I’d like to visit. Craig (Booklabs), you need to check this out.
The Awl: How to Be a Writer.
From May 5. “I teach a Popular Criticism class to MFA students. I don’t actually have an MFA, but I am a professional, full-time writer who has been in this business for almost two decades, and I’ve written for a wide range of impressive print and online publications, the names of which you will hear and think, “Oh fuck, she’s the real deal.” Because I am the real deal.” And it only gets better as you track down the page.
Aeon: Why it helps to put pain into words.
“With the invention of chloroform in the 1840s, doctors celebrated the fact that the ‘groans and shrieks of sufferers beneath the surgeons’ knives and saws, were all hushed’.” Painful to experience … painful to read.
Youtube: George R. R. Martin Still Uses A DOS Word Processor.
Much Later: I should mention Wordstar was a subject of derision when I first started temping in NYC. The Laniers, Wangs, Amtext-Jacquards and other dedicated word processors of the day had customized keyboards. No multiple-keystrokes required. Wordstar was considered slow and user-unfriendly; only for those folks trying to ‘save money’ over a ‘proper’ word processing system by buying one o’ them newfangled PC’s. Ah, the halcyon days of daisywheel printers and pin-feed paper ...
Guardian.UK: French book publishers risk being lost in translation without global reach.
And it’s terribly annoying. There are many French authors for whom I have a desire to read their entire oeuvre, and cannot, because my French is not great (near non-existent). I’ll read one book, find out there are others, and there are no translations - or the translations are clearly dreadful. Not that French is the only issue; German and Spanish novels aren’t thick on the ground with good translations either.
500px ISO: Unbelievable Photography … How To Shoot Dreamy Outdoor Portraits.
Um … it’s already been done. Accompanied by text that will forever cement the subject in your mind. Ever read Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon? You’ll remember this iconic photo of Arthur O. Bakke. It’s unforgettable. It’s not just a photo - it defines the man, visual context to the prose in a way that is surpassingly beautiful and respectful. And the above ‘tutorial’ is an amazing coincidence.
Blue Highways is a major, major recommend. If you haven’t read it, do.
Mr Bakke died in ‘08, BTW. RIP, Arthur. We all loved you. Well, you and ‘White Fong.’ But you, my readers, will have to read the book to understand.
LA Review of Books/Zaretsky: Looking at ‘Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War.’
“As the battle, like Philoctetes’ wound, refused to close over the days, weeks, and months that followed, as casualties mounted in the French army’s effort to hold on to a swath of blasted and blackened soil, the government and press were obliged to find, or invent, reasons for the madness. As a result, though Verdun had little true strategic value, it was transformed into the war’s hinge, a new kind of Thermopylae in which the French soldiers, defending the ideals of 1789, were holding back the Teutonic hordes.” If you’ve read and enjoyed the tales of air battles over Verdun as a kid, you’ll want to pick this up to find out the backstory - and what was going on down below your favorite ‘Knights of the Air.’
Fuck Yeah, Thoreau.
A popular link already. But … green type on a greenish-brown paper background? Yeah, I’ll pull out my paper copy, thanks.
Guardian.UK: Gut reaction - book celebrating digestive tract becomes German bestseller.
“… Enders argues that even scientists like her – a 24-year-old doctoral student at Frankfurt’s Goethe University – have only in recent years started to explore the possibility that the health of our bowels could have a more direct influence on our mental wellbeing, our motivation, memory and sense of morality than our DNA.”
Makes me think of a passage from Giono (which also has lessons for bloggers/social mavens): “… it’s essential to be crazy, my child. Look around you at the ever-increasing number of people who take themselves seriously. Apart from making themselves hopelessly absurd to minds like mine, they condemn themselves to a dangerously constipated life. It’s exactly as if, at one and the same time, they stuffed themselves with tripe, which is a laxative, and with Japanese medlars, which are binding. They swell, swell, then they burst, and that makes a bad smell for everybody.”
Kickstarter: Murality/Jump For Joy Photo Project ...
Slate: Paris history - The construction of the Pont Neuf.
CNet: Mysterious writing in rare 16th-century Homer identified.
“Working with colleague Giulia Accetta, who is proficient in contemporary Italian stenography and fluent in French, Metilli identified the script as a form of shorthand invented by shorthand author Jean Coulon de Thévénot in the late 18th century. The shorthand notes in the text are mostly French translations of Greek phrases from the Odyssey.”
The Rumpus: Details Emerging For Amtrak Writing Residency.
“Twenty-four ‘residents’ will be selected on a rolling basis, beginning in the summer, and given sleeper berths for two to five days on long-distance lines during windows of low ridership, so as not to take seats away from paying customers.”