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Fan Fiction Has Been Around For Almost 300 Years (And It’s Been About Sex The Entire Time)

The fan-fic phenomenon seems to have gotten its start in the wake of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, with William Hogarth and Alexander Pope riffing on the adventures of Swift’s hero (and, in Pope’s case, his put-upon wife). Add to that Shamela, Henry Fielding’s lusty takedown of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, and the genre is well and truly established. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Pope, Words, Pamela, Jonathan Swift, William Hogarth, Alexander Pope, Samuel Richardson, 02.14.20, Shamela Henry Fielding


This Could Be The Berkeley Public Library’s Most Treasured Collection

“The Berkeley Tool Lending Library is one of the Bay Area’s great public gifts, a free-to-use service for Berkeley residents looking for anything from saws to ladders to a hard-to-find screwdriver. You’d think a repository of free tools, some very expensive, would disappear frequently, but supervising librarian Dan Beringhele says theft is rare. It’s just that beloved.” – San Francisco Chronicle
Tags: Art, Words, Berkeley, Audience, Bay Area, Berkeley Public Library, 02.16.20, Berkeley Tool Lending Library, Dan Beringhele


Why Black English Is America’s Most Important Dialect

“All along, while standard American English was busy convincing everyone that it was a superior dialect, it’s Black English that’s been a true cultural and linguistic force in contemporary society. Standard English is in fact deeply indebted to this so-called impoverished speech. It’s Black English that has left its mark on the popular culture we participate in, sliding seamlessly into the language of art, music, poetry, storytelling, and social media. Perhaps no other variety of speech has bee...
Tags: Art, America, Words, 02.12.20


In Praise Of Wikipedia And What It’s Become

Today, Wikipedia is the eighth-most-visited site in the world. The English-language version recently surpassed 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words; edits materialize at a rate of 1.8 per second. But perhaps more remarkable than Wikipedia’s success is how little its reputation has changed. It was criticized as it rose, and now makes its final ascent to … muted criticism. – Wired
Tags: Art, Wikipedia, Words, 02.17.20


Is E.L. James The Best Writer Of The Past 30 Years?

Or is it Barack Obama? How about Hilary Mantel? That’s right, all of them are squaring off in a new book prize in Britain. (But seriously: Who put the author of Fifty Shades of Grey on the same list as the author of Wolf Hall?) The British Book Awards “celebrate the best of writing and publishing: the books that defined their genre or launched a trend” (in which case, we’re pretty sure E.L. James is the actual winner here). – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Barack Obama, Britain, Words, Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, James, Grey, 02.14.20


Taking Aim Against (Part Of) Amazon With A New Website

Can a new website help indie bookstores compete with the retail behemoth? The American Booksellers Association thinks so. “‘We believe that there are consumers who shop online and would choose to support indie bookstores if there were a visible and convenient alternative to Amazon and others,’ the ABA said when it announced its partnership with Bookshop last month.” – Forbes
Tags: Amazon, Art, Words, Aba, American Booksellers Association, 02.14.20, Aim Against Part Of Amazon


Two Men Broke Into A London Bookshop Intending To Rob It, But Then They Found The Prosecco

They found no cash, but there was alcohol. “Front and back windows at Gay’s the Word, which became the UK’s first gay bookshop when it was opened in 1979 and which featured in the film Pride, were smashed last Sunday. But after ransacking the shop and drinking a bottle of tequila left on the premises after a member of staff’s birthday, the burglars were caught by police in the store’s kitchen drinking prosecco.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, UK, London, Words, 02.14.20


Checking In On (What’s Left Of) This Professional Writers Organization

After massive fallout from accusations of racism and pandering to a small (possibly racist) publisher, Nora Roberts weighing in on the homophobia of the organization, Twitter-led discoveries of years of lies and ignoring actual ethics violations, and numerous chapters resigning their memberships, you’d think things might be changing, but the Romance Writers of America continues to face consequences: The entire board (some of whom had been appointed by a president-elect at the center of the cont...
Tags: Art, Words, Nora Roberts, Romance Writers of America, 02.13.20


Think Fan Fic Is New?

Nope. Take a look at this Gulliver’s Travels (yes, Gulliver’s Travels) fanfic. “In the 18th century, as now, fan fiction was usually more explicitly sexual than its source material.” Oh. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Words, 02.14.20


The New York Public Library Is Turning 125, And Here Are Its 125 Most Favorite Books

“The list is full of classics, of course, but it’s also got a few refreshing surprises in there.” – LitHub
Tags: Art, Words, New York Public Library, 02.14.20


Duh – Most Of Us Judge A Book By Its Title

For two of the three most-browsed books in the Codex test, participants said that the books’ titles, not their graphics, were the strongest factors in prompting them to click the read more buttons. “People who buy and read books are word lovers; nothing intrigues them more than a strong message delivered by uniquely crafted title, subtitle, or even a reading line.” – Publishers Weekly
Tags: Art, Words, 02.07.20


California May Remove Submissions Cap For Freelance Journalists Under New Gig Law

The bill, which is called AB5 and which went into effect on Jan. 1, says that outlets may not accept more than 35 submissions a year from any individual freelance journalist; any more, and the freelancer must be put on staff. Following desperate pleas from affected journalists, the law’s author said, in a series of tweets, that she will introduce an amendment to AB5 to eliminate the 35-article limit. – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, California, Words, 02.07.20


A Human Response To Amazon’s Algorithms: Custom-Designed Book Subscriptions

Two bookstores in England are offering book(s)-of-the-month services in which, after some discussion with the customer, a knowledgeable staffer selects and ships books the staffer thinks the individual recipient will like. – The Guardian
Tags: Amazon, Art, England, Words, Audience, 02.13.20


How The Novel Lost Its Place In American Culture

The sad truth is that the novel now doesn’t occupy the same cultural high ground, and it doesn’t typically feel to readers like a practical device for addressing problems. The decline of the novel’s prestige reflects a new crisis born of our culture’s increasing failure of intellectual nerve and its terminal doubt about its own progress. – The Spectator
Tags: Art, Words, 02.20


Why Anonymous Is A Bestselling Author, And Why That’s A Problem

“For readers, the anonymous author holds a simple and compelling promise. Here is someone who – by concealing their identity – can reveal the complete and shocking truth. … [Yet] this is truth-telling predicated, after all, on a lie – perhaps the biggest lie possible, the denial of who you are. There is plenty of room for fiction to sneak in under the cover of the original fib.” – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, 02.10.20


A History Of Poets Laureate

The poet laureate tradition is long. Poet laureates were first recognized in Italy during the fourteenth century. Ben Jonson became England’s first poet laureate in 1616, although the first “official” poet laureate, John Dryden, received his appointment in 1668. The present title in the United States, however, wasn’t authorized until an act of Congress in 1985 — prior to that they were known as “Consultants in Poetry.” – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, England, Congress, United States, Italy, Words, Ben Jonson, John Dryden, 02.10.20


Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ Is Now An App

It’s going to be a series of apps, in fact — and they’ll be free. The first one, now out, features the General Prologue, with text and audio in the original Middle English, a modern English translation, and a digitized facsimile of an early manuscript as well as notes and commentary. (One of the project’s contributing scholars was the late Terry Jones of Monty Python.) – Smithsonian Magazine
Tags: Art, Words, Terry Jones, Chaucer, 02.05.20


Amazon Has Been Banning Objectionable Books (Think Neo-Nazi) From Its Platform. Is That A Problem?

While few may lament the disappearance of these hate-filled books, the increasing number of banished titles has set off concern among some of the third-party booksellers who stock Amazon’s vast virtual shelves. Amazon, they said, seems to operate under vague or nonexistent rules. – The New York Times
Tags: Amazon, Art, Words, 02.09.20


Anonymous Used To Be A Woman, But Now Is A Secret Identity For Spill-All Political Writers

It’s not just politicians, of course, in our age of surveillance and social media. “Here is someone who – by concealing their identity – can reveal the complete and shocking truth. Many anonymous authors say this is precisely why they’ve chosen to remain hidden. The Secret Barrister, whose anonymous exposé of the [British] criminal justice system was published in 2018, explains from behind the barrier of email: ‘Anonymity means I can criticise institutions, organisations and players in the just...
Tags: Art, Words, 02.10.20


A Black, Gay Writer Takes On The Traditional Campus Narrative

Brandon Taylor always felt that he had to choose between science and writing. “Throughout his undergraduate years at Auburn University at Montgomery and graduate school in Wisconsin … science often won. But when he received an acceptance letter from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he decided that, this time, writing would win. ‘I could survive not having science, but I couldn’t survive not having writing,’ he said.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Wisconsin, Words, Iowa Writers ' Workshop, Brandon Taylor, Auburn University at Montgomery, 02.10.20


Irish Writer Anne Enright And The Building Of Ambience In A Novel

Then there’s the part about taking a “curly-wurly” book and turning it into direct chronology. But she also says, “There are various threads that are out there that if I was a sociologist or an historian, I would be able to say, this is actually something. … But I’m just picking up the atmosphere, the ambience, and using it.” – The Irish Times
Tags: Art, Words, Anne Enright, 02.08.20


A New, Very Well-Funded Book Award For Women

The award is called The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Stone Diaries, and starting in 2022 will award $155,000 Canadian to a woman or non-binary author. “It is a sum that dwarfs the prize money for literary awards such as the Booker Prize (50,000 pounds, roughly $65,000), the Pulitzer Prize for fiction ($15,000) and the National Book Award ($10,000). The Nobel Prize for literature is one exception, with laureates receiving nearly $1 million...
Tags: Art, Words, 02.07.20


Audible And The Big Publishers May Finally Have Figured Out This Caption Thing

In settling out of court, apparently,  “Audible has agreed not to include the copyrighted works of seven plaintiff publishers in its ‘Captions’ program without express permission.” This does not, of course, apply to works in the public domain, and indeed, “Audible sources confirmed to PW that the company currently has no plan to move forward with the Captions program beyond its limited pilot with public domain works for students.” – Publishers Weekly
Tags: Art, Words, 02.06.20


How To Keep On Writing (Or Making Other Art) When It Feels Like The Planet Is Coming Apart

Writer Jenny Offill: “The question I was thinking about in this book … was, Can you still just tend your own garden once you know about the fire outside its walls?” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, Jenny Offill, 02.05.20


Author Says The UK Educational System Is Dreary, Needs More Laughter

Michael Rosen blames the Reformation – truly. That time period was “when they thought the only way you could be virtuous was to be modest and serious, so humour was pushed aside, seen as frivolous … even dangerous. And that seeps through into education today, so there’s a slight fear of subversiveness or laughter, as well as a dismissal of it. And for some of us, humour is a means of survival.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, UK, Words, Michael Rosen, Audience, 02.06.20


When Dorothy Parker Got Fired From Vanity Fair

She had been the magazine’s theatre critic for less than two years, and in trouble with her editor for much of that time, when one column enraged both David Belasco and Florenz Ziegfeld so much that libel suits were threatened. Her dismissal became a minor cause célèbre in the press, made her famous enough to maintain a freelance career ever after, and launched the Algonquin Round Table on the road to renown. – The Public Domain Review
Tags: Art, Words, Vanity Fair, Dorothy Parker, Florenz Ziegfeld, David Belasco, 02.06.20


After 87 Years, A Radical Novel Of The Harlem Renaissance Finds A Publisher

Claude McKay set aside his novel Romance in Marseille in 1933 because his editor thought it too shocking to sell: its protagonist is a West African double amputee with a prostitute lover, and most of the action is “in a sexually liberated working-class milieu, where queer love is accepted as a fact of life, no more subject to judgment than its heterosexual counterpart.” Penguin Classics has just published it for the first time. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Marseille, Words, Penguin Classics, Claude McKay, 02.05.20


Slammed For Doing ‘Literary Blackface’, Barnes & Noble Cancels Poorly Thought-Out ‘Diverse Editions’ Campaign

The idea of this Black History Month initiative was to take 12 children’s and young-adult classic titles — among them Frankenstein, Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, and Romeo and Juliet — and sell them with covers depicting their characters as nonwhite. (This as opposed to promoting titles by nonwhite writers.) – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, Romeo, Barnes, 02.05.20


Barnes & Noble’s Blackface Celebration Of Black History Month

“Seriously. To honor black people, they decided to showcase a selection of white-centered literary tomes. But, instead of acknowledging that the books were written by white people who wrote about white people, these genius marketers simply slapped a diverse selection of black faces on the books’ covers.” – The Root
Tags: Art, Words, Barnes, 02.05.20


When Working Men Bought ‘Pride And Prejudice’ For A Penny

“Austen first emerged in penny editions in the 1890s. Penny versions were modeled on the sensational Penny Dreadfuls, those cheap stories of violence on which Britain’s lawmakers were known to blame the rise in urban crime. Operating in tandem, two newspaper giants stepped in to offer better entertainment to ‘the poorer millions.’ These alternatives were pushed as ‘Penny Delightfuls.'” And yes, poor working men and women bought and read them. – Literary Hub
Tags: Art, Britain, Words, Audience, Austen, 02.04.20



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