Monday, March 31, 2008
There is a humorous literary essay in The New York Times about love and literary tastes.
From the story:
Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!”
We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast.
The Record, the newspaper for Washington University at St. Louis has a story about a new miniature book collection that they have showing, that includes the first book on contraception, a mini book that Buzz Aldrin took with him on his flight to the moon and a Japanese prayer scroll from 770 AD.
Curious to learn more about miniature books?
The Miniature Book Society encourages interest in collecting and publishing miniature books all over the world.
The Illinois University Library has showcased 4000 Years of Miniature Books that includes thumb bibles, mini libraries, almanacs and calendars, and volumes from the Near and Far East.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
There's an interesting study discussed in The Guardian.
From the Marc Abrahams story:
Poets, by tradition, imagine themselves likely to die young. But that's not a matter of imagination, says Associate Professor James C Kaufman, of California State University at San Bernardino. It's a simple fact.
Kaufman looked at the lives and deaths of 1,987 deceased writers from four different cultures: American, Chinese, Turkish and eastern European. His 2003 study, The Cost of the Muse: Poets Die Young, paints a mathematically ghoulish picture. Poets drop off earliest, Kaufman explains, but authors in general are not a long-lived bunch.
He writes that: "The image of the writer as a doomed and sometimes tragic figure, bound to die young, can be backed up by research. Writers die young. This research finding has been consistently replicated in a variety of studies."
I'd better start penning my will. :(
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Truthdig is relaying the fact that China has allowed foreign journalists to enter Tibet, riven with strife and suffering after weeks of protests, riots, mayhem and untold deaths.
From the story:
China has allowed a group of foreign journalists an escorted visit to Tibet. News reports from non-state sources are coming out of Lhasa for the first time since protests and riots began two weeks ago. One described part of the city as a “war zone.”
In the Telegraph there's a book review of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf. It sounds like a fascinating book.
From the synopsis:
The act of reading is a miracle. Every new reader's brain possesses the extraordinary capacity to rearrange itself beyond its original abilities in order to understand written symbols. But how does the brain learn to read? As world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist and scholar of reading Maryanne Wolf explains in this impassioned book, we taught our brain to read only a few thousand years ago, and in the process changed the intellectual evolution of our species.
The Times Online has an interview with Anita Thompson, his wife (the one he was talking to when he was loading the gun that he shot himself with).
In regards to Mr. Thompson, some needed watching and reading.
The documentary Breakfast With Hunter that reveals the inner workings of the man.
Watching and Reading?
The truly spectacular Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The Los Angeles Times has an article about the book publishing industry's efforts to go green or, at least, greener.
From the story:
"Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts" is an 86-page summary, printed on 50% post-consumer recycled paper and full of charts about fiber, endangered forests and carbon footprints. The news: The book world, which uses up more than 1.5 million metric tons of paper each year, is steadily, if not entirely, finding ways to make production greener.
"I was very pleasantly surprised," said Tyson Miller, founder and director of the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit program which has worked extensively with publishers on environmental issues. "We're seeing a groundswell of momentum and real measurable progress."
Writinghood showcases the Most Horrible English Words, though they missed one of my favorites (parameciumultimicronucleatum).
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In Science Magazine is a story by Michael Balter about the human brain and its capacity for language.
From said story:
We humans can do all sorts of things other animals can't. Take language, for example--an ability researchers have long chalked up to our big and specialized brains. But size isn't everything, according to a new study, which suggests that important changes in the brain's wiring played a key role in language evolution.
Paper Cuts, the blog of The New York Times Book Section, has a nice little story on bookshelf etiquette. A book collector only has so much shelf space in their house for books. What books stay? What books have to go? What are the rules governing a well-tempered bookshelf?
Monday, March 24, 2008
The Sunday Herald does a nice profile on Paris's famed bookstore Shakespeare & Company. I was there just last month. What a thrill! I sat in front of it, writing in my journal, the Seine flowing across the way, the Notre Dame standing against a sheet of blue sky. It felt good to be there, right to be there as a writer myself, knowing the history of Shakespeare & Co and those famous writers who haunted the doorway.
I only spent a few days in Paris but I found myself amongst the Shakespeare & Company stacks a few times, like a moth, as the cliche goes, to flame. Upstairs there's a little writing nook (complete with old typewriter) and beyond that a sitting room. Late one night I sat up there, again, writing in my journal. It was tremendously quiet up there and I could look out the window and see the buildings opposite the river alit in the dusk and I just kept writing and writing and writing. No one bothered me. No one even came up stairs. I checked my watch a couple of times. Should I be up here?! When does the store close? Would they lock me in?
I left really late at night, wandered up the streets past the Parthenon to my little hovel of a hotel. It was near perfect.
Booksellers highlight those folks that truly annoy them when they're in their shop, care of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Book Patrol.
A few choice entries:
The Cell Phoners
Halitosis Checkout Guy
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
- Jane Austen (1775 - 1817), Pride and Prejudice, 1811
Friday, March 21, 2008
Well, uh, it's art on the fore-edge of a book. Kristen Berg of Powell's Books discussed it here.
If you're interested in seeing more fore-edge art, this site is a good place to start.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The American Society of Magazine Editors just announced the 43rd Annual National Magazine Award Finalists. The New Yorker, not all that surprising, received the most nominations, followed by Vanity Fair, GQ and National Geographic. The finalists for "General Excellence":
Circulation under 100,000
Aperture, The Georgia Review, Metropolis, Print, The Virginia Quarterly Review
Circulation 100,000 - 250,000
Foreign Policy, Mother Jones, Paste, Philadelphia Magazine, Radar
Circulation 250,000 - 500,000
Backpacker, Cookie, New York Magazine, W, Wondertime
Circulation 500,000 – 1,000,000
Budget Travel, The Economist, GQ, National Geographic Adventure, Wired
Circulation 1,000,000 – 2,000,000
Men’s Health, The New Yorker, Play, The New York Times Sports Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Vanity Fair
Circulation over 2,000,000
Glamour, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic, People, Time
I'm kind of rooting for Wondertime. My wife loves that magazine and my kid likes to make projects out of it after we're done reading it with scissors and glue.
A story I wrote about the burgeoning distillery market in Oregon is now online on Distinctly Northwest Magazine's website.
Enjoy the story, like I enjoyed Clear Creek Distillery's pear brandy. Heaven in a bottle, my friends.
On the Dolores Blog are some interesting graphs highlighting what's been on the covers of Sports Illustrated magazines since 1954. Graphs include...
"Race on Sports Illustrated Covers"
Blacks began getting more coverage than whites in the mid-80s and hasn't looked back.
"Sports on Sports Illustrated Covers"
Football is soaring while basketball continues a downward trend.
If you're an Asian boxer reading this - good luck on getting that SI cover shot. Sorry.
Also, recently on Mental Floss - Sports Illustrated Firsts.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Esquire Magazine continues to redeem itself after that terrible Heath Ledger story they did a little while ago. How? Well, they've interviewed the ever-so-entertaining George Clooney, but have done it in a fabulous way. The writer, A.J. Jacobs, sits down with Clooney in front of a computer as George Clooney Googles George Clooney.
The New Yorker has a great story about the life and times of Lenny Dykstra, a former beloved baseball player and what he's up to these days. What he's up to is this - after being a day trader, after he hung up his glove, he's decided to create Players Club, a magazine specifically for pro athletes. It'll be a magazine about finance, luxury living, and other items of interest to pro athletes.
From the story:
“You’ve got the ten per cent who are going to find their way no matter what,” Dykstra said of the athlete population. “And you get the ten per cent that are fuckheads no matter what—we’ll paste an ‘L’ to ’em.” The rest need guidance, and Dykstra, who will write a regular column called “The Game of Life,” is prepared to give it. “This will be the world’s best magazine,” he said.
T.C. Boyle, my favorite novelist, is featured in a recent issue of The Daily Trojan after being honored at University of Southern California. The Friends of USC Libraries featured the distinguished fiction writer and USC professor of English at its recent Forty Seventh Literary Luncheon.
Monday, March 17, 2008
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a few Irish-themed links...
Biblio Ireland, an authoritative guide to Irish books.
Library Ireland, a free online resource for Irish antiquities, biography, folklore, genealogy, history (general, local and social), literature, and much more besides.
Ireland Literature Guide.
The Irish Playography, presented by the Irish Theatre Institute.
James Joyce's Ulysses for Dummies.
And, of course, three Muppets sing "Danny Boy."
Care of the Guardian.
From the intro:
"Boredom has always fascinated me. I suppose it is the Heideggerian sense of 'profound boredom' that intrigues me the most. What he called a 'muffling fog' that swathes everything - including boredom itself - in apathy. Revealing 'being as a whole': that moment when we realize everything is truly meaningless, when everything is pared down and all we are confronted with is a prolonged, agonizing nothingness. Obviously, we cannot handle this conclusion; it suspends us in constant dread. In my fictions I am concerned with two archetypes only, both of them suspended in this same dread: those who embrace boredom and those who try to fight it. The quotidian tension, the violence that this suspension and friction creates naturally filters itself into my work."
Sunday, March 16, 2008
You despise books; you whose lives are absorbed in the vanities of ambition, the pursuit of pleasure or indolence; but remember that all the known world, excepting only savage nations, is governed by books.
- Voltaire (1694 - 1778)
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Time is celebrating their 85th anniversary this year. They're taking a look back at some of their best and worst covers since the magazine's inception. The cover above was from September 8, 1961.
Kevin Chong, at CBC, ruminates.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Editor and Publisher has a story about the continuing fall of newspaper circulations across the nation. Some tidbits:
+ In just four years the top newspapers in the U.S. have collectively lost about 1.4 million copies in daily circulation.
+ The industry has lost about 10% of circulation overall in the past four years.
+ The Los Angles Times lost 20% of daily circulation, The Boston Globe lost 20%, the San Francisco Chronicle 30%.
+ Though most are dropping, precipitously, some are actually on the rise. USA Today is up 2% and so is the New York Post.
I wonder - will my daughter read a stack of newspapers when she grows up on a lazy Sunday morning with a stack of warm waffles nearby? Or will she just point and click?
The list, according to Typographica.
And, by the way, there's a difference between a font and a typeface. From the story:
The physical embodiment of a collection of letters (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) is a font. When referring to the design of the collection (the way it looks) you call it a typeface.
The feature, therefore, is a celebration of new typefaces than new fonts.
Oh, and BibliOdyssey has a swell selection of lace typography.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Well, Esquire redeems itself slightly after the fake Heath Ledger diary/reported fiction thing. They're starting to create fiction using letters they receive to the editor. The first crack at a letter-inspired piece of fiction is Bret Anthony Johnston.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Ah, to be a book lover in Seattle! My hometown was featured recently in The New York Times about how Seattle is helping shape the book publishing industry. How?
The Three Big Reasons:
It doesn't hurt that we have great independent bookstores, a super Central Library and lots of smart people that live here.
Update: A Seattle bookseller details the dark side of Seattle's rise in the publishing world.