Friday, August 31, 2012

Dorothy Parker Left Her Estate To...

Martin Luther King, Jr. True thing. Vanity Fair has more, here.

What I Have to Offer

On the 30th of September 2011, in front of a sell-out theatre at the BFI in London, Charlie Kaufman delivered the final lecture in BAFTA's 2011 Screenwriters' Lecture Series...

What I have to Offer from Eliot Rausch on Vimeo.

A Brief History of Superman's Love Life

Because, I'm sure you were pining for a brief history of Superman's love life. You're in luck!

From a piece on Comics Alliance...

Lois Lane has been around since Superman's first appearance in 1938's Action Comics #1, and she's been in every single adaptation of the Superman story in other media: radio, newspaper comic strips, novels, animated cartoons, film, and television. The relationship Lois shares with Superman is complex; she spurns milquetoast Clark Kent in favor of alpha-jock Superman, who in turn spurns her. Consequently, Lois would think of insane plots to either reveal Superman's secret identity or trick him into marrying her while jealously fending off any romantic rivals. Superman generally kept Lois at arm's length, unless of course she suddenly took an interest in another guy or her ardor seemed to wane.

This status quo worked for a good four or five decades, but eventually the two developed a more realistic and mature relationship during writer/artist John Byrne's revamp of the Superman continuity for the emerging post-
Crisis On Infinite Earths version of the DC Universe in the late 1980s. The new Lois Lane wasn't quite so hard on her Daily Planet co-worker Clark Kent, and Superman revealed his secret identity to her. After a few years as a couple, they finally married in 1996's Superman: The Wedding Album, and had one of the more healthy and stable super-relationships for the next 15 years. DC's "New 52" reboot undid their marriage, courtship and even the fact that Lois knew that Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same, freeing the Man of Steel up for a relationship with Wonder Woman that does not necessitate leaving Lois -- if they were never together, there can be no break-up.

The First Edition Covers of 25 Classic Books

The gallery, care of Flavorwire.

The Future of Reading Rainbow

Thursday, August 30, 2012

25 Vintage Magazine Covers from Japan


50 Funniest Lines in Literature

The list, care of Stylist.

A Bevy of Bookplates


A Fleet Foxes-Related Literary Journal to Be Published

It'll be called Unified Field Collective.

From a piece in the L Magazine...

In the case of the inaugural issue, we can expect a 10'' transparent vinyl pressing of rare tracks from the aforementioned Pecknold, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Amen Dunes, Grizzly Bear spin-off Department of Eagles and more, while its 60 pages will work off the theme of "transition" (each issue will carry a theme, natch). Round one features a journal entry penned by recently freed West Memphis 3 member Damien Echols on adjusting to life after 18 years on death row, an excerpt from Gloria Steinem's forthcoming book, a photo essay on adolescence by noted rock photographer Autumn de Wilde, a contribution from SPIN's Charles Aaron, and another from Animal Collective sister/visual collaborator Abby Portner, among 30-plus other pieces. Also worth mentioning: Both Beach House and Sub Pop are listed among the collective's roster. Perhaps a hint of what future issues will hold?

Books Ranking Literary Devils by Their Relative Fearsomeness

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Blast Off Into Space...

...with a good book.

The New York Daily News offers some suggestions, here.

And have you SEEN this Mars stuff? Awesome....

Happy Birthday, Norton Anthology

Fifty years ago this fall, undergraduates were assigned their first Norton Anthology, often the only required text for a college freshman’s survey of English literature. 

The editors discuss its importance for the New York Times.

From the piece...
The Norton Anthology plays a crucial role in a humanities curriculum that is said to be under great pressure. Have you noticed the effects of this pressure?
Greenblatt: Of course we have noticed. The issue is not so much the anthology, but rather the fate of the whole enterprise of studying what Matthew Arnold called the best which has been thought and said in the world. For generations that enterprise occupied a key place in college and university education everywhere, but there are signs that it is in trouble. Humanities departments are fretting about a decline in majors, and those students who do major in literature, art, philosophy and history often clamor only for contemporary topics.

Has the Norton Anthology then lost its relevance?
Greenblatt: Not at all. The Norton Anthology was based on the idea that it actually matters to plunge into a comic masterpiece written in the 1300s or to weep at a tragedy performed in the 1700s. What would it mean for a culture to give up on its past? It is vitally important to remind people that the humanities carry the experience, the life-forms of those who came before us, into the present and into the future. Through reading literature we can make ghosts speak to us, and we can speak back to them. Besides — as many studies have shown — cultural knowledge turns out to be good for your career.

Bruce Davidson's London

The Stories of Julie Hayden

Have you ever read a story by Julie Hayden? Do you even know who Julie Hayden is? Neither did S. Kirk Walsh, writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

From the piece...

JULIE HAYDEN’S ONE AND ONLY book, The Lists of the Past, was released 36 years ago this summer by Viking Press. Ten of its stories were originally published in the pages of the New Yorker, where Hayden worked for 16 years before her death at age 42.

I discovered Hayden while driving with my husband from Los Angeles to our home in Austin, Texas. For the road trip, I had downloaded multiple podcasts, including several fiction programs from the New Yorker. Along a barren stretch of Highway 10 in southeast Arizona, we listened to Lorrie Moore read Hayden's story "Day-Old Baby Rats." The story follows a tormented woman as she wanders the streets and subways of Manhattan, through stores and other public spaces, and finally through the heavy doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In the darkness of a confessional, while sipping Scotch from a flask, she tries to ask a priest for help. A slightly older and more broken-down version of Sylvia Plath’s Esther Greenwood, Hayden’s nameless protagonist embodies the acute loneliness of living in Manhattan — how the distorted lens of irrational fears and past traumas can transform the city into a dangerous landscape, seemingly impossible to navigate.

By the time the story was over, my husband and I had exited the highway and parked outside a diner. Only a few cars were in the lot, which was on a hill overlooking distant mountains. It was an odd and wonderful setting in which to listen to a story that so fully took me back to New York City — where at times during my early twenties I had experienced similar loneliness and intoxication. Over burgers and fries, my husband and I talked about the emotional power and mastery of the story and how it reminded us of our lost, younger selves. Neither of us could believe that we had never heard of this extraordinary writer.

And in Today's Book Burning News

Let's all torch 50 Shades of Gray, yes? It's vile.

From a piece in the New York Daily News...

A British charity is proposing a mass burning of copies of E.L. James' "50 Shades of Grey," the sexy trilogy that is easily the most popular book of the season, charges that it is pure trash aside.

The burning is being organized by Clare Phillipson, who heads Wearside Women in Need, an organization that battles domestic abuse. It is based in Washington, England. The bonfire is scheduled for Nov. 5, and Phillipson appears to be collecting volumes for the occasion. However, it is unclear if she needs a permit from municipal authorities to hold the burning.

Her main objection appears to be that the power dynamic between Ana Steele and Christian Grey borders on the abusive. One imagines the books' delving into BDSM does not thrill her, either.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jon Stewart on Literature

Drugstore Cowboy Author Dies in Prison

RIP James Fogle.

From a piece in the Seattle Times...

Fogle died Thursday at a prison in Monroe, Wash., about 30 miles from Seattle, said Selena Davis, a state corrections spokeswoman. A judge had sentenced him to almost 16 years in prison for holding up a pharmacy in a Seattle suburb in 2010, the last in a string of crimes that put him behind bars for most of his adult life.

Fogle died of probable malignant mesothelioma (meh-soh-thee-lee-OH'-muh), the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office said Friday.

The ailing Fogle was emaciated and connected to several medical machines in the last week of his life, close friend Daniel Yost told the Seattle Times in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
He was terminally ill and barely able to breathe, but his sharp wit and creative drive were ever-present as he pushed Yost, one of his final visitors, to get another of his novels, the autobiographical "Doing It All," onto the big screen, the Times reported.

Unusual Cookbooks

100 Novels Everyone Should Read Before They Die

The list, care of the Telegraph.

It's Read Comics in Public Day

Don't be shy. Go out there and enjoy it!

Ian Falconer Interviewed

The author and illustrator of Olivia is interviewed by the New York Times.

From the piece...

What were your favorite books as a child?
Fairly obvious choices. Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” and “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins”; Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Nutshell Library” and “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” ( a great favorite); William Steig’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” 

What makes a good children’s book?
That’s a bloody good question. O.K., if I had to say one thing, it would be to not underestimate your audience. Children will figure things out; it’s what they do best — sorting out the world. 

What’s the best book by an illustrator you’ve ever read?
I’d have to say “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” The story is sort of slow and moody, but very funny, and the monochrome drawings beautiful.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The History of the Ballpoint Pen

Because you were dying to know, yes?

From a review in the Wall Street Journal...

Through much trial and error, and with the help of his early backer and business partner, Andor Goy (1896-1991), Bíró developed a working ballpoint pen. The two men signed a contract to produce and market the pen in 1938. Thus a simple but remarkable invention came into a world about to be convulsed by death and destruction. We see Bíró refining the pen and experimenting with recipes for the ink paste essential to his concept while fleeing dangers that seemed to chase him across Europe as war brewed and then broke out.

Bíró comes across as amazingly tolerant of, even oblivious to, the uncertainties and dangers that threatened his life and the fate of his invention. He was not totally naïve; he tried to safeguard his commercial interests. Nor were his successive entrepreneurial collaborators totally unscrupulous. At each stage, Bíró tried to strike the best deal he could, though his own shares dwindled steadily—and at one point he had to choose between keeping his remaining shares or selling them to help his family flee to Argentina. Understandably, he had no regrets about bartering to save lives. Yet Mr. Moldova rightly emphasizes the ultimate irony that "the inventor who conducted the thousands of experiments needed to perfect the ballpoint pen ended up without a penny of stock in the factory where they had taken place." Inventors, beware!

Kurt Cobain...

The sticker book?

Making Literary Cocktails

The Most Book Loving Generation Alive

Gen Y? Yeah, Gen Y!

From a piece in the Christian Science Monitor...

Baby boomers’ share of book expenditures fell from 30 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2011, while Gen Y’s expenditure grew from 24 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2011 – a near-mirror-image swap. Not as surprising, about 43 percent of Gen Y’s purchases are geared toward online book buying, ”adding momentum to the industry shift to digital,” according to the report.

This news piqued our interest, but we can’t say we were entirely surprised. As The Beat wrote, “…this is really just a matter of time and aging…” It’s also, they pointed out, a message to publishers of a potential shift in audience taste. After all, this newly dominant Gen Y audience “was raised on Bruce Timm, The X-Men, and Buffy,” says The Beat.

Scary times ahead in publishing.

The report also charted the continued growth of e-book consumption, which rose from 4 percent of sales in 2010 to 14 percent in 2011. And due to the slow economic recovery, more affluent households have taken over a larger share of book expenditures. Some 57 percent of book spending came from households earning more than $50,000 in 2011, up from 54 percent in 2010.

Dramatic Readings of Obama Campaign Emails

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Did Herman Melville Do After Writing Moby-Dick?

He didn't go to Disneyland. He went to the Holy Land.

From an interesting piece in Tablet...

But Pittsfield, in the wake of Moby-Dick’s poor reception, was not a happy place for Melville. His farm was losing money, and his career seemed to be in shambles. He followed Moby-Dick with Pierre (1852), another financial and critical disappointment, and then several stories for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and Putnam’s Monthly Magazine, among them Bartleby the Scrivener (1853) and Benito Cereno (1855). Each short story hints at the author’s anger, despair, and exhaustion. Another novel, Israel Potter, published in 1855, did little to change his reputation or circumstances, and those closest to Melville grew increasingly worried; the writer seemed fatigued, unhappy, and even, some suggested, suicidal.

Given Melville’s anguished state, his wife, Elizabeth Shaw, proposed—and his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, agreed to finance—a trip overseas. Melville had previously gone abroad to London in 1849, shortly before the completion of Moby-Dick, and had enjoyed the trip immensely. But that had been a different time in the author’s life; he was a successful novelist writing a book he believed would be immediately celebrated as one of the greatest works of the 19th century. Six years and many disappointments later, Melville had good reason to be down.

Nonetheless, on Oct. 11, 1856, Melville boarded the Glasgow, a steamer bound for England. As Howard C. Horsford recounts in his historical note to the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville’s journals (for which Horsford served as editor), Melville visited Hawthorne in Liverpool, and Hawthorne said afterward that Melville seemed “a little paler, and perhaps a little sadder” than he’d been before. But as Melville journeyed on, the trip appeared to revive his spirits. As he sails the Mediterranean in mid-winter, Melville’s exuberance is clear. In his journal, he notes “such weather as one might have in paradise,” of “stars shining with brilliancy,” and “gloriously clear” evenings. This attitude, though dotted with days of despair, generally continued through Constantinople, Alexandria, Cairo, and Rome.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Handwritten Great Gatsby Manuscript


Is the Literary Recluse a Dying Breed?

Yes. :(

Damn you social media.

From a piece on Lit Reactor...

To Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960. Since then, Harper Lee has appeared in public a handful of times. She never wrote another book, and she rarely grants interviews. 

In 1951, J.D. Salinger published his first novel, The Catcher in the Rye. As the book grew in popularity, the author withdrew from public, moving from his Manhattan apartment to Cornish, New Hampshire. From there, he published three more books, all without maintaining a public profile.  

Only a few photos of Thomas Pynchon exist, nearly all from high school and college. He's published eight novels, and despite some high-profile "appearances"--like in animated form, as himself on The Simpsons--there's still a great deal of speculation about him.  

These authors, and others, carry an air of mystique that make them bigger than their writing. They leave more questions than they answer: Why didn't Lee finish The Long Goodbye, her second book? How many novels did Salinger write that will never be released? What does Pynchon even look like? 
These are authors we feel like we know, but we never really did.
They're also a dying breed--the literary recluse, rendered obsolete by blogging and social networking.

Early 1900s Postcards Show Off Early "Photoshopping Skills"

A gallery, care of Wired.

Top 5 Literary Paintings

The list, care of the Telegraph.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Highlights from the 2012 National Poetry Slam

Watch Your Favorite TV Characters Talk about Books


8 Great Moments in the History of Editing

The list, care of Mental Floss.

From said list...

1. The Catch in Catch-22: The Edit That Became an Idiom

In 1961, author Joseph Heller finally submitted his manuscript for Catch-18 to his editor, Robert Gottlieb. Although Heller had spent seven years perfecting the story, Gottlieb saw room for improvement. The editor taped the pages to his office wall and restructured the novel, giving more emphasis to the now famous Major Major character and instructing Heller to delete entire 60-page sections. But most importantly, Gottlieb wanted to change the title.

Earlier that year, writer Leon Uris had released a war novel called Mila 18, and Gottlieb didn’t want any confusion between the two books. What followed was an exchange of frantic letters in which Heller and Gottlieb considered and rejected various numbers for the title. They decided 11 didn’t work because of Ocean’s 11; 14 was “an unfunny number;” and 26 just didn’t feel right. “I’ve got it!” Gottlieb blurted out one night in a eureka moment. “It’s Catch-22! It’s funnier than 18.” The edit stuck, and a major, major idiom was born.

The Difficulty of Insider Book Theft

Oxford University Press takes a look at the black market rare book trade.

From the post...

He seems to have treated the place as his own personal collection, stealing and selling hundreds — maybe thousands — of rare and antiquarian books during his 11 month tenure. This has provoked the normal amount of head-shaking and hand-wringing. But what is most striking — aside from the embarrassing appointment of the unqualified de Caro to the job in the first place — is how terrible a thief he was.

For an insider, stealing rare books, maps and documents is easy. It takes no talent and very little planning. But turning those stolen items into cash while also staying out of jail requires skill, and a great deal of effort. De Caro, like many insiders before him, seems not to have properly thought this through.

The first step in the successful insider heist is to identify items unlikely to be either missed by the institution or recognized by buyers as stolen. For the same reason that stealing the Mona Lisa is a bad idea, taking the most famous or in-demand items in a library or archive is ill-advised. They’ll be likely recognized as missing and, in any event, will raise suspicions in anyone knowledgeable enough to pay full price for them.

Top 20 Books to Argue About

Do you love the book? Or hate it? A list, care of Stylist.

Friday, August 24, 2012

How Paperbacks Transformed the Way People Read

An interesting history of paperbacks, care of Mental Floss.

From the post...

Here’s a little perspective: In 1939, gas cost 10 cents a gallon at the pump. A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the year’s bestselling hardcover book, was $2.75. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible expense.
But in just one day, Robert de Graff changed that. On June 19, 1939, the tall, dynamic entrepreneur took out a bold, full-page ad in The New York Times: OUT TODAY—THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT MAY TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS.

The ad was timed to coincide with the debut of his newest endeavor, an imprint called Pocket Books. Starting with a test run of 10 titles, which included classics as well as modern hits, de Graff planned to unleash tote-able paperbacks on the American market. But it wasn’t just the softcover format that was revolutionary: De Graff was pricing his Pocket Books at a mere 25 cents.

Despite its audacity, de Graff’s ad wasn’t brazen enough for his taste. A former publishing exec who’d cut his teeth running imprints for Doubleday, de Graff wanted the ad to read THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT WILL TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS. His business partners at Simon & Schuster were less confident and forced the edit. Even though some European publishers were making waves with paperbacks—Penguin in England and Albatross in Germany—New York publishers didn’t think the cheap, flimsy books would translate to the American market.

They were wrong. It took just a week for Pocket Books to sell out its initial 100,000 copy run. Despite industry skepticism, paperbacks were about to transform America’s relationship with reading forever.

The End of Coffee Table Books?

That was the question recently posed by the Independent.

From the article...

In the past few years, says Tom Tivnan, features editor of The Bookseller: "Illustrated books and art books have withstood the digital decline that the rest of the industry is facing. The 'beautiful' books are the print books that will survive in the digital age. The latest Bookscan figures suggest, for example, that sales of individual monograph art books were up 70 per cent last year."

The coffee table book is a 20th-century creation; hardly surprising, given that the coffee table itself was only introduced to Great Britain in the late 19th century. Until the post-war period, printing such large editions was prohibitively expensive. But as printing costs decreased and middle-class incomes rose, they became an essential fixture in any bourgeois household. Designed to be admired, they favour pictures over words. Typical subjects include art, photography, fashion or the natural world. The coffee table book is the best excuse for displaying soft porn in plain sight. Kramer once spent an entire series of Seinfeld trying to flog a coffee table book about coffee table books.

"Illustrated books are mostly produced in the Far East now," Tivnan explains. "That may cause some ecological concerns, but it's much cheaper for publishers, and the quality is high. So we could be entering a golden age. There's going to be a split between cheap, e-book convenience reads, and the books that people want to live with, put on their coffee tables or shelves."

The Sandman Movie That Never Was

Some concept art, care of Collider.

Quebec's Garden of Decaying Books


10 Great Novels about the Immigrant Experience

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Elvis Lit - A Survey

The Millions puts on some blue suede shoes and tramps around the ever growing library of Elvis Presley books.

From the piece... 

Elvis Presley disappeared 35 years ago today.

I choose the verb disappeared for a reason. Not because I’m a big believer in conspiracy theories or Elvis sightings — I am not — but because in a very real sense Elvis Presley didn’t actually die on Aug. 16, 1977, he simply moved on to a different level in the ether of superstardom. When asked what he planned to do once Elvis was in the ground, his evil genius of a manager, Col. Tom Parker, said it all: “Why, I’ll just go right on managing him!” As Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick put it, “RCA (records) would discover that Elvis was as great a sales phenomenon in death as in life.”

Even more phenomenal than the unquenchable hunger for Elvis music, Elvis impersonators, and Elvis memorabilia (black velvet paintings, ashtrays, liquor bottles, etc.) is the relentless outpouring of books about Elvis. I call it ElvisLit — a river of words that gives every indication, year after year after year, that it will never run dry. Guralnick described it as “the cacophony of voices that have joined together to create a chorus of informed opinion, uninformed speculation, hagiography, symbolism, and blame.”

Inside the Scrabble Cheating Scandal

Indeed - Scrabble has a cheating scandal.

More from the Atlantic...

For those of us who don't compete and may not even play Scrabble, such dastardly behavior hiding beneath a certain apparent word-nerdiness was simply funny, an insight into a subculture revealing unexpected truths. But even before the ruling on Tuesday, the swirling speculation about this player's tactics means that cheating has been a hotly debated topic long before some 350 people gathered this week in a large ballroom in Orlando for Nationals. 

This game is not just a hobby. The competition ranges from 1 to 4, expert to novice. "Most of the people there study word lists and play Scrabble every single day," said Max Karten, winner of division 4 of the national championship in 2009. The top prize in that division is $2,000. In division 1 it's $10,000. There are 28 rounds of the games prior to the finals on the last day; it was during round 24 that the cheater was caught. We sought out the player through his coach a supporter and Scrabble coach, Katya Lezin, but did not hear back. 

Art Moore, who was playing the underaged player and reported him for hiding tiles, revealed in an online forum for Scrabble enthusiasts that his game began much like any other competition until he noticed something odd: "the two blanks were sitting next to each other in one of the quads on my opponent's side of the board. Knowing who I was playing this immediately drew a red flag. I'd played him the day before and won handily even though he had drawn both blanks."

Oscar Wilde - Fashion Magazine Writer

For reals. That was his day job once.

From an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books...

FOLLOWING THE HAYMARKET affair of 1886, where seven police officers and four civilians were killed in Chicago during a labour rally, Oscar Wilde signed a petition which supported the anarchists who were claimed to have placed the fatal bombs in the area. Less than six months after signing this petition, which was prepared by George Bernard Shaw and endorsed by Friedrich Engels, among others, Wilde began working for a fashion magazine, comparable to today's Vogue.

Inconsistent? Paradoxical? Strange? For those who believe in the dissident portrayal of Wilde, the seeker of The Soul of Man under Socialism, the former act is an earnest, sincere expression of his real sympathies, while the latter one is a result of pressing material needs (two years previously he had been married to Constance Lloyd, with whom he’d had two sons), if not of outright desperation. But a closer look at the volumes of his magazine, The Woman’s World, which is available to read through Google's digitalization program complicates this simple opposition between Wilde the dissident and Wilde the sell-out. Under his editorship, the magazine had little patience for gossip and superficiality, instead focusing on the commodification of Victorian life: its potentials, its downfalls, and the role of feminism in it.

Wilde's magazine is a serious venture, a stark contrast to the glossy titles of our era. How lucky were those editors, one thinks, working in a cultural milieu where commodification could be a magazine's subject, and not its lifeblood. That The Woman’s World seemed more interested in reconfiguring the idea of femininity (Wilde pressed his publisher to revise the original title, The Lady’s World, calling it not “womanly”) attests to its intellectual status. Upmarket, highbrow and prestigious, Wilde's magazine could almost be described as dissident in its frequent advocacy of the New Woman, a politically empowered, radical re-appropriation of Victorian femininity.

Book Pulping - a History

New York Magazine looks into it.

From the article...

What eureka moment gave us book recycling? The details are forgotten, but we know that in the early seventeenth century, when the cost of paper was astronomically high, proto-publishers ripped old pages from unwanted books and used them as endleaves. Adam Smyth, a senior lecturer in literature at the University of London, notes that a mention of the lost Shakespeare play Love’s Labour’s Won was discovered inside a copy of the 1637 text Certaine Sermons. * “All of which suggests,” Smyth says, that “an early Jonah Lehrer would have quickly seen his pages binding the boards of someone else’s book.”

Between those ancient repurposed pages and modern pulping came another stroke of inspiration: the invention of wood-based paper. It used to be that paper was made from rags, a shortage of which gripped the Western world in the early nineteenth century. In Nova Scotia, a young logger and poet named Charles Fenerty proposed a solution: Why not make paper out of wood? (Rags have to be made; trees grow.) “I entertain an opinion that our common forest trees, either hard or soft wood, but more especially the fir, spruce, or poplar, on account of the fibrous quality of their wood, might easily be reduced by a chafing machine, and manufactured into paper of the finest kind,” he wrote in 1844. 

Fenerty died in 1892 without ever having secured intellectual property rights to, or a following for, his notion. It took German mechanic Friedrich Gottlob Keller to actually develop a machine that realized Fenerty’s vision. Keller sold his invention to an entrepreneur; a patent was granted; an industry was born.

Why Misquotations Catch On

How sayings from books, movies, and speeches get misremembered, care of the Atlantic.

From the piece...

Have you noticed how incorrect quotes often just sound right—sometimes, more right than actual quotations? There's a reason for that. Our brains really like fluency, or the experience of cognitive ease (as opposed to cognitive strain) in taking in and retrieving information. The more fluent the experience of reading a quote—or the easier it is to grasp, the smoother it sounds, the more readily it comes to mind—the less likely we are to question the actual quotation. Those right-sounding misquotes are just taking that tendency to the next step: cleaning up, so to speak, quotations so that they are more mellifluous, more all-around quotable, easier to store and recall at a later point. We might not even be misquoting on purpose, but once we do, the result tends to be catchier than the original.

In some cases, it's a simple question of word order. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" has an easier rhythm than the actual, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." The change certainly matters if you're a poet, or preserving the integrity of Shakespeare. But at least it does no real harm to the meaning. 

In some, it's a simplification or contraction of something that's a bit messier to remember without it. "Beam me up, Scotty!" was never actually uttered by any Star Trek character. "Beam us up, Mr. Scott!" was, in the 1968 "Gamesters of Triskelion." Likewise, Humphrey Bogart's iconic "Play it again, Sam" was in reality, "If she can stand it, I can. Play it." Note how in both cases, the sense remains basically the same. The adjustments are minor ones. They aren't blatant misquotations so much as attempts to, on some level, make things sound the way they should sound. These misquotes are in the category of, "right, that's what I wanted to say—and maybe even how I wanted to say it."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Charles Bukowski - An American Author

20 Writers Who Were Soccer (Football) Fans

The list, care of the Telegraph.

6 Political Candidates' Favorite Books

A slideshow, care of the Huffington Post.

Wondering How Far Magazines Must Fall

Magazines are in crisis. People aren't buying them much anymore.

From a story in the New York Times...

The problem is more existential than that: magazines, all kinds of them, don’t work very well in the marketplace anymore. 

Like newspapers, magazines have been in a steady slide, but now, like newspapers, they seem to have reached the edge of the cliff. Last week, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that newsstand circulation in the first half of the year was down almost 10 percent. When 10 percent of your retail buyers depart over the course of a year, something fundamental is at work. 

I talked to an executive at one of the big Manhattan publishers about the recent collapse at the newsstand and he said, “When the airplane suddenly drops 10,000 feet and it doesn’t crash, you still end up with your heart in your stomach. Those are very, very bad numbers.”

How Much Would You Spend for Elvis's Bible?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Star Trek in the Park

The 20 Irrefutable Theories of Book Cover Design

The list, care of the Guardian.

Awesome Vintage Photographs of Tattooed Women


A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks

AbeBooks whips up a batch of collectable cookbooks, here.

From the piece...

The sheer array of cookbooks is daunting to the first-time collector so it is advisable to specialize in a single genre or ethnicity, or to collect the work of a particular author or group of writers from a region or period. 

The demand for rare cookbooks is fuelled by the fact they are so hard to find, especially in good condition. Once a book has gone out-of-print, it becomes increasingly difficult to find and its value increases as it becomes more collectible.

Condition is the key factor. Look for a pristine copy that appears to have been lovingly read rather than one that has endured the heat, liquids and dirty fingerprints of a working kitchen. Is it signed by the author or someone of note? Does it have a dust jacket? Is it a first edition? Is it out-of-print? These are all important factors to take into consideration before purchasing.