In 2012, with Fifty Shades (among other titles) driving
their business, sales at the independents were up almost 8 percent. Now
that the holiday season is underway, Teicher and his ABA colleagues have
every hope of matching or exceeding that growth, not with soft porn,
perhaps, but rather from expert book-selling . . .
(3) GPS devices are nice and all for helping you get from to A to C without always having to go through B, but I'm pretty sure they're never going to be this cool. (via The New York Review of Books)
"The more localized, practical maps come, perhaps unsurprisingly, from the Romans, concerned about assessing the extent of their empire, measuring plots of land for taxation, and keeping track of their many roads, among other things. It was with the Romans that the so called itinerary—the land based version of a periplus—began. The itinerary was, like the periplus, a written text, though perhaps the most fascinating map in the exhibit, the Peutinger Map, can be seen as a graphic itinerary. The Peutinger Map illustrates the Roman empire’s networks of roads from Spain and Britain in the west to India in the east. Displayed in a twenty-two-foot-long replica, it is a thirteenth-century copy of a fourth-century edition of an even older Roman map"
"I was surprised to learn that James McBride’s "The Good Lord Bird" was the “surprise”
winner of the National Book Award for fiction last night. Then again,
it’s hard to begrudge working journalists a decent angle on the prize
during any year in which neither Jonathan Franzen nor Philip Roth has
published a book that can be “snubbed” by the panel. Nevertheless, it’s
interesting to learn that a novel can be characterized as “little-mentioned” even after it’s made the cover of the New York Times Book Review. "
1) In December 1965 the editors of Holiday Magazine asked some of America's most distinguished authors and essayists to highlight some books that might otherwise go (or have gone) overlooked. The contributors did not let them down.
"Before the agonized epic of Warlock is over with—the rebellion of the
proto-Wobblies working in the mines, the struggling for political
control of the area, the gunfighting, mob violence, the personal crises
of those in power—the collective awareness that is Warlock must face its
own inescapable Horror: that what is called society, with its law and
order, is as frail, as precarious, as flesh and can be snuffed out and
assimilated back into the desert a easily as a corpse can. It is the
deep sensitivity to abysses that makes Warlock, I think, one of
our best American novels. For we are a nation that can, many of us, toss
with all aplomb our candy wrapper into the Grand Canyon itself, snap a
color shot and drive away; and we need voices like Oakley Hall’s to
remind us how far that piece of paper, still fluttering brightly behind
us, has to fall."
Deadline for submissions is December 1, 2013 at midnight.
In a few weeks, we’ll edit together a single crowd-sourced reading
featuring as many of your voices as possible and post to the blog. And
if you participate through Soundcloud, your entire reading will be
preserved as part of Record-a-Poem for poetry posterity.
3) Literary recipes for your holiday celebrations (via Biblioklept)
From the 1971 Introduction to her classic novel The Golden Notebook:
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag—and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty—and vice versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you. Remember that for all the books we have in print, are as many that have never reached print, have never been written down—even now, in this age of compulsive reverence for the written word, history, even social ethic, are taught by means of stories, and the people who have been conditioned into thinking only in terms of what is written—and unfortunately nearly all the products of our educational system can do no more than this—are missing what is before their eyes. For instance, the real history of Africa is still in the custody of black storytellers and wise men, black historians, medicine men; it is a verbal history, still kept safe from the white man and his predations. Everywhere, if you keep your mind open, you will find the truth in words not written down. So never let the printed page be your master. Above all, you should know that the fact that you have to spend one year, or two years, on one book, or one author means that you are badly taught—you should have been taught to read your way from one sympathy to another, you should be learning to follow your own intuitive feeling about what you need: that is what you should have been developing, not the way to quote from other people.”
"It all started when I asked a simple question on Twitter yesterday. Why
in the HELL do the GoodReads Choice Awards not have a category
dedicated to allowing users to vote for their favorite literary
translation of the year? There are twenty categories. TWENTY. Yet
translations are completely ignored. Thus the first ever Typographical
Translation Award is born. Lovers of international fiction, this is
your chance to speak up and be heard! You tell us, what was the best
translation published in 2013?"
(3) Internet (& now publishing) sensation, Allie Brosh, on writing, depression, and her new book. (via The Hairpin)
"You're a writer with a tremendous internet following. What do you think about the internet as a place of support?"
"One problem with the internet is it sort of takes away your empathy;
you can have less of a connection with people online. But with my
readers, I'm talking about things that are more personal, and I started
out with this small group of tightly knit readers. There's more empathy
and more respect. So, I feel pretty good about the internet. Every once
in a while you get weirdos, but you get those people in real life, too."
Minimum number of artists who could be said to have obsessive rituals relating to coffee:6
Number of croissants Proust ate every day when writing:1 or 2
Artist with the best mnemonic device:Jonathan Edwards, who would “pin a small piece of paper on a
particular part of his clothes, which he would associate with [a]
Partial list of proven ways to avoid creative blocks:stroking one’s genitals (Thomas Wolfe), standing on one’s head (Igor
Stravinsky), taking a shower (Woody Allen), smelling a drawer of
decaying apples (Friedrich Schiller), photographing “filth and decay”
(3) William T. Vollmann's daily rituals would surely require a volume all their own. (via Newsweek)
If William T. Vollmann ever wins the Nobel Prize in
Literature – as many speculate he will – he knows exactly what he will
do with the $1.1 million pot the Swedes attach to the award. “It will be
fun to give some to prostitutes,” he says, sitting on his futon,
chuckling, a half-empty bottle of pretty good bourbon between us.
He is neither flippant nor drunk, though more booze awaits us out
there in the temperate Sacramento twilight. Vollmann became famous for
fiction that treated the sex worker as muse – especially the street
stalker of those days in the Tenderloin of San Francisco when AIDS was
just coming to haunt the national psyche and the yuppie invasion was a
nightmare not yet hatched. His so-called prostitution trilogy - Whores for Gloria, Butterfly Stories, and The Royal Family -
is overflowing with life and empathy, nothing like the backcountry
machismo of Raymond Carver or fruitless experimentation of Donald
Barthelme, both oh-so-popular with young writers when Vollmann first
came on the scene after graduating from Cornell in 1981. He approached
the prostitute like an anthropologist, yet did so without condescension,
writing in Whores for Gloria, “The unpleasantnesses of her profession are largely caused by the criminal ambiance in which the prostitute must conduct it.”
Architects BK. Architecten
were tasked with converting this 15th century Dominican church into a
modern bookstore with the addition of 700 square meters of shopping
space. But there was one major catch: all the historical elements of the
547-year-old building including stained glass windows, pipe organ,
ceiling paintings and expansive arches had to remain intact.
Incredibly, BK. Architecten managed to add three levels of retail
space to the side wings of the church in a manner that the entire
structure can one day be removed in order to restore the church to its
original design. In addition only three colors of building materials
were used to mimic the existing palette of the cathedral’s interior to
further ensure that the bookstore would pay reverence to the original
space. (via Colossal)
(3) Third things third . . . a new look on sartorial swaps.
This is delightful. On her Tumblr Canadian photographer Hana Pesut has been posting an ongoing series of shots she calls "Switcheroo." As you see in the examples below, two participants are photographed together twice, once in their own outfits and again wearing the other's outfits -- each time against the same background. The power of contrast is amusing, but also revealing of something interesting about norms and expectations.
Two videos today . . . both of them depicting, well, let's call it what it is, the sublime.
(1) The first comes to us from the halls of Harvard University, and it's our old friend once again, Mary Ruefle. (Two posts in a row, you're thinking, I can tell. Ah but poets require a refrain, don't they?) As with her best work, the surreal meets the humane, and something wonderful happens.
(2) And then there's David Lynch . . . and quinoa.
In the three decades I’ve been teaching, I find that the subset of
students is steadily increasing who consider nearly all words of three
or more syllables pretentious, with the exception of “pretentious”—which
is for them an indispensable term. Meanwhile, in recent years, a word
I’ve always been fond of—“artisanal”—has been swallowed by an enormous
maw. Its fine associations of individual tooling and subtle
calibration—the craftsman’s guild—have all but vanished. The word has
been devoured by fast-food franchises, supermarkets, junk-food
confectioners; any day now I’ll spot on some diner menu artisanal
s’mores, artisanal pigs in a blanket.
Like the librarians of Babel in Borges’ story, who are looking for
the book that will provide them with the key to all the others, we
oscillate between the illusion of perfection and the vertigo of the
unattainable. In the name of completeness, we would like to believe that
a unique order exists that would enable us to accede to knowledge all
in one go; in the name of the unattainable, we would like to think that
order and disorder are in fact the same word, denoting pure chance.
It is also possible that both are decoys, trompe l’oeils intended
to disguise the erosion of both books and systems. It is no bad thing
in any case that between the two our bookshelves should serve from time
to time as joggers of the memory, as cat rests and as lumber rooms.
The season is upon us for annual gift giving galore! Books are the best gifts, from the heart. Here is a selection of books we think might interest you, or someone near and dear to you, for the holidays.