Thursday, March 31, 2011
The New York Times relays the information that the final typescript of the last four pages of Margaret Mitchell's novel (thought burned in a fire) still exist.
From the piece...
The chapters, which contain some of the novel’s most memorable lines — like, “My dear, I don’t give a damn” and “After all, tomorrow is another day” — were given to the Pequot in the early 1950s by George Brett Jr., the president of Macmillan, Mitchell’s publisher, and a longtime benefactor of the library. Some pages from the manuscript were actually displayed at the Pequot twice before — in a 1979 exhibition of Macmillan first editions, also donated by Mr. Brett, and in 1991 for a show honoring “Scarlett,” Alexandra Ripley’s authorized, if not very good, sequel to “Gone With the Wind.”
But Dan Snydacker, executive director of the library, said nobody back then paid the manuscript much attention or recognized its importance.
The pages went back into storage and resurfaced only in response to a query from Ellen F. Brown, who was working with her co-author, John Wiley Jr., on “Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone With the Wind’: A Bestseller’s Odyssey From Atlanta to Hollywood,” published in February by Taylor Trade Publishing. Ms. Brown was interested in the Brett collection at the Pequot and curious to know if any of the library’s many foreign editions of “Gone With the Wind,” yet another bequest, had inscriptions from the author to her publisher.
She shares her memories.
From a piece in the Reader's Almanac...
Earlier this month Dean Faulkner Wells, the last living relative with firsthand memories of William Faulkner, published her deliciously anecdote-filled memoir, Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi. Wells is the daughter of Dean, the youngest of the four Faulkner brothers.
The dramatic event that governed her life occurred before she was even born:
The best and worst thing that could have happened to me took place on November 10, 1935, four months before I was born, when my father, a barnstorming pilot, was killed in a plane crash at the age of twenty-eight. The best, because it placed me at the center of the Faulkner family; the worst, because I would never know my father.
The oldest of the brothers, William felt tremendous guilt and responsibility for Dean’s death. A pilot himself, he had encouraged his brother to fly, paid for his lessons, and gave him his own plane, a Waco C cabin cruiser. As his niece writes, “It was as if William made a vow to Dean that November afternoon when he saw his unrecognizable body in the wreckage of the plane: He would tend to me in Dean’s place.” She grew up calling her uncle “Pappy” and Faulkner became her legal guardian and paid for her education and her wedding.
The Daily Mail has the story about an amazing find in a Jordanian cave.
From the piece...
If the dating is verified, the books would be among the earliest Christian documents, predating the writings of St Paul.
The prospect that they could contain contemporary accounts of the final years of Jesus’s life has excited scholars – although their enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that experts have previously been fooled by sophisticated fakes.
David Elkington, a British scholar of ancient religious history and archeology, and one of the few to have examined the books, says they could be ‘the major discovery of Christian history’.
‘It is a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church,’ he said.
From a humorous bit in McSweeney's...
6. "ESCALADE" IS A KIND OF VEHICLE; DO YOU MEAN "ESCALATE"?
7. THIS IS AN INTERESTING OVERVIEW OF YOUR TAKE ON ZOMBIES/VAMPIRES/LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA, BUT IT HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH THE ASSIGNMENT. PLEASE GO OVER THE HANDOUT AND LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT DESPITE THE FACT YOU WERE TEXTING FRANTICALLY UNDER THE TABLE AND MAKING LEWD GESTURES WHEN I EXPLAINED SAID HANDOUT IN CLASS TELLS ME IT'S A WASTE OF MY TIME TO READ OR THINK ABOUT YOUR ESSAY AT ALL (LET ALONE FOR HALF AN HOUR ON A SATURDAY NIGHT ON WHICH YOU ARE CERTAINLY HAVING MORE FUN THAN I AM), I HAVE GONE AHEAD AND MADE CAREFUL COMMENTS ANYWAY, WHICH MAKES ME HATE MYSELF A LITTLE, WHICH YOU WILL SEE REFLECTED IN YOUR PARTICIPATION GRADE AT THE END OF THE TERM.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Quite possibly, notes the New York Post.
From the article...
Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow has been remaking herself in recent years as a food expert with strong ties to celebrity chef Mario Batali -- and now, according to a reliable source, she is trying to expand her empire outside of the Hollywood realm with a magazine project.
One source insisted Hearst -- which has a hit on its hands with the Food Network Magazine and which helped turn Oprah Winfrey's celebrity buzz into O, the Oprah Magazine, now the second most profitable magazine in the entire company after Cosmopolitan, is intrigued.
"It's a super-secret project," said one source. Hearst is insisting speculation is not true.
When is it time for a writer to hang up their pens and paper? Why don't writers know when to quit?
From a piece on the Daily Beast...
Mysteries are my weakness. Hunky detectives, villainous officials, plot surprises going off like a string of firecrackers—all these are enough to make me forget that I am on an airplane going through turbulence or to keep me up all night. I discovered Lee Child one afternoon when I had a three-hour wait in Penn Station. Sitting on the dirty floor with Jack Reacher, I wished the delay had been longer. Finding a writer who does this for me is like falling in love, but here’s the real mystery—why can’t these guys keep it up after eight or nine books? Why do they all seem to run out of steam?
David Baldacci began Absolute Power with one of the best scenes I have ever read; now, 18 books and 15 years later, I don’t even buy him in paperback. Even the classy Alan Furst just seemed to fade after book No. 10 into shorter, less interesting stories. Janet Evanovich locked herself into writing serial thrillers by using a number in each title—I stopped at Hard Eight. Sometimes it happens sooner. Stephenie Meyer’s first novel, Twilight, was imaginative and compelling, but it was followed by three lesser accomplishments. Consider the wisdom of J.K. Rowling, who announced that she would write seven Harry Potter novels and then wrote seven Harry Potter novels… so far.
The Los Angeles Times takes note of the newspaper that's coming out with Radiohead's newest album.
From the piece...
Radiohead launches its own newspaper Tuesday, a one-time freebie that the band is distributing worldwide. Some fans in New Zealand and England have already picked up their copies of The Universal Sigh.
OK, it's a funny name for a newspaper -- but The Radiohead Star-Ledger wouldn't have had been quite so Radiohead-y.
The newspaper is reported to include pieces from Robert McFarlane ("Mountains of the Mind"), a nonfiction writer who explores remote regions in England and Ireland, and Jay Griffiths, a woman who writes both fiction and nonfiction.
And, speaking of Radiohead:
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
From the post...
2060: Physical Books Will Make a
Comeback in Annoying Contexts.
As printed matter gets harder to obtain, Antiquarian Archipelago will become a popular infotainment show, starring heavily-armed archivists who teleport from island to island in search of rare gems. Meanwhile new printed works will continue to be released—in the form of dust jackets made from edible fungi—as faux-antique treasures at Renaissance Fairs and related nostalgic historical reenactments. The last bibliophile will traverse the city in a daze, wondering where the bookstores went. Meanwhile all of human knowledge will be encrusted onto a chip and sent into outer space by sixth graders, as a ploy to get out of doing their homework.
NPR looks at the changing face of children's literature with the winds of digital technology blowing down picture books right and left.
From the piece...
There's a whole new way to read your kids to sleep these days — or to distract them while you are trying to get something done. If you have a smartphone or an iPad, you can download a kids' book app in no time. From classics to stories created specifically as an app, these enhanced e-books include narration, animation and interactive features. Some children are even getting their first exposure to books on a digital device.
Michel Kripalani is deeply invested in Dr. Seuss these days — for two reasons. His company, Oceanhouse Media, has the rights to develop the works of Dr. Seuss as digital books — everything from Green Eggs and Ham to The Cat in the Hat. Kripalani also has a 2-year-old daughter, Kentia, who loves reading Dr. Seuss — on her father's iPad.
"Boy, she can navigate on that thing — it's incredible," Kripalani says. "There's something about a child's ability to navigate by touching what they want, and I believe that's the magic here. It's just that the child is able to touch the tree or touch the bird or touch the word that they don't know, and that's really one of the things that just changes everything."
Ugh. More from Comics Alliance, here.
From the post...
Ah, Dilbert. For so long, you have lingered there on the comics page, always ready to barrel-shoot the inanity of office culture with your humorously-coiffed characters and beleaguered engineers, locked forever in a corporate development hell that your humor at first mocked, and then later resembled.
Mostly, though, I haven't really paid attention to you at all, at least until today, when the internet discovered a post where Dilbert creator Scott Adams gave us all a piece of his mind in a post (since deleted) about men's rights, and the fact that he thinks men suffer a level of social injustice equal to women.
After all, women might get paid less for the exact same amount of work as men in our society, but men die earlier, teen boys have to pay higher car insurance, and sometimes women want men to open doors for them, so it all comes out in the wash, right? I'm not making those examples up, either; those are his examples.
And then there's this:
The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It's just easier this way for everyone. You don't argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn't eat candy for dinner. You don't punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don't argue when a women tells you she's only making 80 cents to your dollar. It's the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles. -Scott Adams
Wow. Just wow. To recap: He's comparing women asking for equal pay to the selfishness and unreasonableness of children asking for candy, or mentally handicapped people lashing out violently. He's saying that women's concern for pay equity is a petty desire levied by an irrational group of people, and he's also suggesting a very specific strategy for the men in the audience: Remember not to care.
Marvel Comics faces their toughest challenge yet - a changing world in publishing.
From an article in the New York Times...
In the year 2011 this is how the day-to-day destiny of Marvel Entertainment, the home of universally recognized characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man and the mighty Thor, and whose publishing division releases 60 to 90 comic books a month, is now determined.
One day last month in the company’s office in Midtown Manhattan, its top creative talent — 30 or so people, mostly male, many bald or bearded, or both — were gathered in a conference room known as the Hulk room, for what felt like the simultaneous meetings of a corporation, a television writing staff and the traders of the New York Stock Exchange.
One by one the Marvel editors who surrounded the long conference table stepped to the front of the room and delivered rigorous but colorful PowerPoint presentations on their coming comics, with story lines plotted out for months or years in advance: Who would join the Fantastic Four to replace the Human Torch, who fell in battle to the evil Annihilus? Who might be the new adversary for the blind vigilante Daredevil? What would Galactus, the planet-eating cosmic entity, consume next, and did anyone have a young hero ready to graduate to the X-Men?
Though the meeting could at times be rigidly precise, it had moments of spontaneity (like when Brian Michael Bendis, the author of Marvel’s Avengers, New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man series, observed that an enigmatic writer named TBD “has got a lot of books” assigned).
Similarly Marvel, which has produced comics in various forms since 1939, is a company that teems with talent while it is confined by its traditions and is enjoying a hard-fought moment in the spotlight while it grapples with larger difficulties afflicting the publishing world.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Monty Python’s Michael Palin, for Vanity Fair, writes on proper diary-keeping etiquette.
From the piece...
Don’t try and make your life interesting when it isn’t. Diaries must be brutally honest. If you had only one egg for breakfast, write “Had egg for breakfast.” Don’t feel you have to have had 12 eggs for breakfast just to get in the diary. And leave celebrity diaries to the celebrities. If you don’t know anyone famous, don’t try and pretend you do. “At the airport that Bruce Springsteen’s drummer once used” isn’t good enough. Similarly, “At the hairdresser’s. Saw someone reading about Bruce Springsteen’s drummer” just sounds desperate. On the other hand, “Bruce Springsteen’s drummer is the father of three of my children” is perfectly legitimate.
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
From an article in the Los Angeles Times...
So I circle back to the reimagining of “The Hobbit” by another visionary and how integral reinterpretation is to the lifespan of a classic, whether book or film. Each generation should have an edition of these timeless stories that speaks directly to them in a style and design that they are familiar with. If you don’t believe me, ask a group of fourth-graders to put down their iPhones and Wii game controllers and see what they think of Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations for [Lewis] Carroll’s first edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
This leads me to a rendition of “The Hobbit” that would have been treasured by many: “The Hobbit” as illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Heard of this version? Probably not, because it never came to pass, and yet, we have surviving glimpses of what could have been.
In the late 1960s, Middle-earth enjoyed a renewed interest with the release of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in paperback. As “The Hobbit” neared its 30th anniversary, the American publisher invited Sendak to reimagine Bilbo Baggins and his classic quest. Caldecott Medal-winning Sendak, though his work could be thorny and at times scary, was nonetheless the darling of children’s publishing that decade. He had the ability to delight the young as he balanced the light and dark in titles from “Pierre” to his pièce de résistance, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Sendak understood not only the physical hurdles that a story’s character faces but the psychological ones as well. He was the perfect visionary to reinterpret Tolkien.
Several well-known authors on the Guardian discuss writing.
From the piece...
Do you have a routine? What tools do you use?
Michael Frayn: It's very difficult when each day you start with a sort of cold brain and nothing happens. In my case I look back over what I was doing the day before and make a few small corrections, often to typing errors, then maybe a few grammatical errors, and then I see a better way of putting something, and gradually you get drawn into the world you've created and you start rewriting what you did the day before and gradually coming up to the point where you left it the day before and going on. And certainly at the end of each day's work I try – when my brain is hot and stuff is happening, but when I'm really too tired to go on – to make hasty notes and write down bits and pieces of what's going to come, anything that's already in one's head, sort of scatter it down on the page so that when you start the next day you've got some stuff there to work on.
Ian Rankin: You get these writers who say: "I go to my office at nine and I write from nine till 12 and then I revise from two till four and that's my day, and I do 2,000 words a day and when I've done my 2,000 words a day that's me," and you go: "What?" I have days when I do fuck all. I sit down at a computer, nothing's coming, I'm having to tear each word out, it's like digging for coal, and I'll go: "No, this isn't working," and I'll just walk away.
Anne Fine: The first bit usually is in pencil, and then later in the day or whenever I will often type that up, and from then on I will be correcting and then I'll work on it in pencil again – over and over and over and over and over – and some pages come fairly easily and don't take much correcting, especially if it's a book for very young children where you're keeping the prose extremely simple. The older the intended reader of the book is, the more complicated it becomes, so you might end up printing certain pages out 20, 30 times. I have novels where, out of sheer interest, I've kept every version of it and I can fill a box two, three feet off the floor with drafts.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
A 1628 novel anticipating space travel is the star of the show at the British Library's upcoming exhibition on science fiction in literature.
From a piece in the Guardian...
When Francis Godwin, a 17th-century bishop, sat down to work out how man might get to the moon (he thought harnessing a man to a flock of geese might do the trick), he presumably did not realise that he was launching a new literary genre. But this summer, Godwin's 1628 book, The Man in the Moone, which anticipated the moon landing by 341 years and is now regarded as the first work of science fiction in English literature, will form a central part of the British Library's first ever exhibition devoted to the genre.
In fact, Godwin was not the first author to imagine other worlds, or even how to reach the moon. A book by Lucian of Samosata, written in the second century AD and depicting a war between moon people and sun people, is also in the exhibition in a Dutch edition published a few years after Godwin's book.
The exhibition, timed for the school summer holidays, will include not only ancient works from the library's archives, but also books by current writers including Cory Doctorow and China Miéville. A copy of the first serialised version of HG Wells's The War of the Worlds will be on display, and there will also be play texts (an 1826 melodrama based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein shows the monster with long hair and wrapped in a toga), sheet music and even advertisements.
The Atlantic has the story of the Smithsonian restoring the book.
From the piece...
How do museum professionals define the condition of an artifact, and determine whether it can be used or exhibited without harm? The answer is by very, very careful investigation, especially when the artifact is the Jefferson Bible, otherwise known as The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Using excerpts from the Four Gospels of the New Testament, Thomas Jefferson arranged the text to tell a chronological and edited story of Jesus' life and moral philosophy.
A national treasure, the Bible recently received microscopic-level examination by a team of conservators trained in both book and paper conservation and by conservation scientists who specialize in materials analysis. A University of Hawaii intern created a purpose-built database to capture all the data observed. How much data? The Jefferson Bible conservation survey database holds over 200 points of observation for each page, and over 20,000 for the entire book.
The Jefferson Bible was made by Thomas Jefferson himself between 1819 and 1820. He cut out Biblical passages which were important to him, and glued them, scrapbook style, into folios of blank paper. Verses were arranged chronologically and in columns in four translations. Next to the English language verses are columns of the same verses in French, Greek and Latin. Jefferson wrote notes in the margins in iron gall ink. The book is made from twelve different types of paper, six different printing inks, and at least three different home-mixed iron gall ink recipes. His bookbinder, Frederick Mayo, bound the 43 folio pages in a red morocco leather binding.
Friday, March 25, 2011
The list, care of MTV.
What do you know, another disease that started in Doom Patrol – though way earlier than Morrison’s run. Sakutia has a number of side effects, including granting the affected party with the ability to control their genetic code, turning them green, and, oh yeah: killing them in under forty-eight hours. Teen Titans hero Beast Boy is one of the few survivors of Sakutia, and is now able to change into any animal at will. But most people? Just mean, green, and dead.
That's the question recently posed by the Guardian.
From the post...
The belief that the short story is a poor relation of the novel persists. Its roots reach back to literature's beginnings, but the short story as we know it only came to be regarded as a distinct form in the 19th century, with works by Poe, Kleist, Gogol and Turgenev resisting established pigeonholes. In the 20th century the short story was the site of as much innovation and great writing as the novel. Consider the Mini Modern Classics list: even in terms of this relatively modest sample, any reader who hasn't read at least some of the short stories of Joyce, Borges, Kafka, Barthelme, Mansfield, Conrad, Carter, Kipling or Trevor is neglecting some of the great literature of the last century.
From there to here, from here to there, researchers find that Dr. Seuss is — in political, social, psychological and even business terms — everywhere.
From an article in Miller-McCune...
There was never any question about Dr. Seuss’ politics. Geisel drew editorial cartoons for a left-leaning newspaper during World War II, and several of his children’s books are allegories, tackling such social issues as prejudice (Horton Hears a Who), environmental degradation (The Lorax) and the Cold War nuclear arms race (The Butter Battle Book). Nevertheless, some conservative thinkers have claimed him as one of their own, at least to a degree.
Writing in the Political Research Quarterly in 1983, Timothy Cook contends that many of Dr. Seuss’ stories, like those of Wizard of Oz creator L. Frank Baum, “present a distinctly negative aspect of government and authority.” In such tales as Yertle the Turtle and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, “Seuss shows political authority as potentially selfish and exploitative, thirsting for more power, heedless of the best interests of the community,” Cook asserts. “Both Baum and Seuss, by the conclusions of their stories, appear to argue that government should be limited in its scope.”
But the real political message of the books concerns family dynamics. Writing in 2002, Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, asserts that Seuss “reflects a larger current in American progressivism during this period, which saw the home and family as the birthplace of a more democratic culture.” In the 1950s, the patriarchal, because-I-said-so approach to child rearing was being replaced (at least among the educated) with a different style of interaction, in which parents set boundaries for their kids, but also let them explore and experiment. Dr. Spock explained the theories; Dr. Seuss brought them to life.
The National Post has the story of someone who likes books and can't get rid of them (who of us can?).
From the article...
The first thing people usually say to me, upon entering my home for the first time, is that I own a lot of books. They are wrong, of course. I am rather ashamed at the size of my collection, considering I studied English literature in university and now pretty much write about books for a living. Between my girlfriend and I me, there are probably between 1,000 and 1,250 books in our apartment, a number I consider rather paltry. Ideally, I’d like to double that number once we buy our first home — we currently rent — and I’m no longer faced with the prospect of hauling countless boxes of books between addresses.
No, the problem, in my opinion, is not the number of books I own, but that I am unable to get rid of any of them. I own some terrible, terrible books — you wouldn’t believe how many crap books get published in this country — but cannot, for the life of me, part with a single one. I am a book hoarder, which, in my line of work, is a troublesome problem to have. I had already acquired a (fairly) impressive collection of books before embarking on a career in arts journalism, a career that goes hand-in-hand with free books.
When you have upwards of 250 books come across your desk each week, things can quickly spiral out of control.
The Independent discusses how the Devil has informed our art.
From the article...
Indeed, the word "Satan" means "adversary" and it is only during the Middle Ages that this image warped into the monstrous, fork-wielding enemy of God that we all know so well.
"If you look at Satan in the Bible, he is not necessarily on the wrong side. In the Book of Job he is clearly one of the sons of God and sort of working for God as a kind of agent provocateur who says: 'let's go and see how Job responds to affliction'," explains Parker. "So Satan and God are in collusion to some extent. And there is no devil in the Garden of Eden – that is all part of later theology."
According to Parker, this was resurrected in the 17th century, when John Milton created a uniquely imaginative connection with the Devil in his poem Paradise Lost.
Before Paradise Lost – with a few exceptions – the Devil had horns and a fork, yet Milton shows him as to be an individual who's so sensitive to the beauty and goodness of God's creation that he simply can't bear it and has to destroy it. "That's very different from acting out of pure evil," adds Parker.
This concept of a more thoughtful and romantic Satan was built upon by the Mephistopheles of Goethe's Faust - which, in turn influenced Lord Byron's representations of the Devil in Cain and The Vision of Judgment. William Blake was another to draw upon this dark inspiration both within his writing and his uniquely unnerving paintings.
In more recent times it has also influenced the daimonic creativity handed to Adrian Leverkühn, the fictional composer who's the protagonist of Thomas Mann's novel Doctor Faustus.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
What would have happened had Hitler won WWII? The Confederates beat the Union? Alternative histories are a popular genre in fiction and AbeBooks takes note of them, here.
From a piece in the Guardian written by the man writing the sequel...
I can remember everything about my first trip to the cinema. We went with Aunty Pat and my cousin Tricia. We took a Tupperware bucket full of pick'n'mix and cartons of Kia-Ora. The film was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Howls of anguish shook the building when the car drove off the edge of a cliff, followed by roars of frustration when the image froze mid-plummet and the word "Intermission" blazed across the screen. The innocent part of me was swamped with pity for that lovely Edwardian family plunging to its doom. The writer in me was already thinking: "OK. This had better be good."
And of course it was good.
Indeed, 'twas good:
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
It's been found.
From an article in the Herald Scotland...
Before the swashbuckling Kidnapped, before the sinister The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, there was The Hair Trunk. Begun in 1877 when Stevenson was only 27 years old, The Hair Trunk was supposed to be the definitive novel of the bohemian age, drawing on his time in artists’ colonies in France.
However, within two years he had abandoned it. His first official novel, Treasure Island, would only appear in 1883.
The Hair Trunk has lain incomplete since then, considered a mere juvenile curio by Stevenson scholars. Few were aware of it. Even fewer have read it. It existed only on 140 parched pages in an American library.
That is, until now.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Fine Books & Collections Magazine interviews Victor Gulotto, who will be auctioning off soon and amazing assortment of Charles Dickens books.
From the post...
RRB: Your focus has been Dickens, and that's the collection up for auction in April by Heritage. Why Dickens, and how long did it take you to put this collection together?
VG: Dickens has long been my favorite English novelist. I suppose it's his treatment of social injustice that I find most compelling. Then there are all the other reasons to love Dickens--too numerous to go into here. Suffice it to say that I never grow tired of his fiction, nor of accounts of his life.
I began collecting Dickens in earnest in 2001, shortly after selling my Longfellow collection, a fourteen-year project, to Harvard. The connection between Longfellow and Dickens, who were trans-Atlantic friends, was in the back of my mind when I shifted gears. I've saved a letter in which Longfellow reflects on his 1842 visit with Dickens in England.
It took me ten years to build my Dickens collection. It reflects my deep appreciation for the life, not just the works, of this great novelist.