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.”
The Millions: On Labor Day - True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.
Colossal: 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed Every Color Imaginable in a Book.
Italian Ways: Delicacies from Trastevere.
Aha. Gives more accurate mental renderings to the Trastevere, when mentioned in favorite books ...
NPR: Extra! Read All About It: ‘Girl Stunt Reporter’ Turns 150.
“The idea that she pretended to be crazy to get into an insane asylum to write an expose was just shocking and exciting. ... I knew that there was a big gap in power between Nellie Bly and the people she was taking on, and to see her turn the tables on them was just incredibly fun.”
Telegraph.UK: Globe audience faints at ‘grotesquely violent’ Titus Andronicus.
“Shakespeare definitely didn’t pull any punches when he was writing Titus – it is a brutally violent play and Lucy’s production is a bloody, exhilarating, incense-laden feast for the senses. [snip] But not one for the squeamish!”
Random House/Pre-Order: The Woman Who Would Be King.
Kara Cooney looks at Hatshepsut, the first woman pharaoh, first really major female ruler in recorded history.
The New Yorker:The Strange Triumph of ‘The Little Prince’.
“This year marks an efflorescence of attention, including a full-scale exhibition of Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork at the Morgan Library, in New York. But we are no closer to penetrating the central riddle: What is ‘The Little Prince’ about?”
LRB: Richard J. Evans reviews ‘Burning the Reichstag’.
“The Third Reich was founded on a conspiracy theory.” Which is why I continue to attack conspiracy theories.
BBC: Spain to search for author Miguel de Cervantes’ remains.
“Forensic scientists say the ground and walls of the oldest part of the convent would be the focus of the search, using ground-penetrating equipment to map objects under the earth.” I hear Don Quixote now … ‘A tooth is much more to be prized than a diamond.’ Little did he realize.
Literautas: iDeas for Writing - Creative prompts, tips and exercises to beat writer’s block.
Of interest. I wouldn’t be writing the next novel on an iPhone, personally. iPad? Perhaps.
X-Men: Death Becomes Them.
The Millions: The Lost Female Beat Poet.
Elise Cowen. It’ll be instructive to contrast her against Diane di Prima and Anne Waldman.
Civil War Memories: William Forstchen and Newt Gingrich Massacre the Crater … Again.
“As I suggest in my review it seems to me that the authors want credit for acknowledging a progressive racial past without alienating those who for whatever reason don’t want to be reminded of the darkest aspects of our civil war. Well, without it you haven’t climbed far at all out of the realm of fiction.” My emphasis.