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Novelist Writes New Narnia Book With Out C.S. Lewis Estate’s Permission

Francis Spufford, who won a Costa Book Award and an Ondaatje Prize for his 2016 book Golden Hill, has spent 3½ years working on a Narnia prequel he’s titled The Stone Table. “After finishing the novel, Spufford made a ‘tentative’ approach to ask the Lewis estate if they might agree to publication, but did not receive a reply. Eventually he printed up 75 copies and started giving them to friends” — who are praising it to the skies. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, Lewis, Golden Hill, Francis Spufford, Spufford, 03.19.19


How The Internet Is Changing How We Preserve Endangered Languages

Across the world, language revitalization movements are attempting to reverse language loss. While levels of institutional support and overall strategies differ, the goal is the same. Language is more than a way to communicate basic information, it expresses culture and identity: it’s used to explain the surrounding world, to sing songs, to worship, and to pass on stories. Languages are a link that bond people in a community to each another and to their shared past. – The Outline
Tags: Art, Words, 03.14.19


Against The Bad Sex In Fiction Awards

Catherine Brown: “At the risk of taking too-seriously an award of which the keynote is not seriousness, there are several problems involved in this that are worth considering. One is the implicit hypocrisy that the award has brought great publicity to its parent magazine because of the very fact – which the award ostensibly disparages – that sex sells.” – IAI News
Tags: Art, Words, Catherine Brown, 03.15.19


Was Shakespeare Really Queer? The Sonnets Are Pretty Clear

Sandra Newman looks at the 126 Shakespeare sonnets (out of a total of 154) addressed to the Fair Youth, at other sonnets and love poetry of the time and place, and at what Shakespeare’s contemporaries said and wrote about male-male sex and love (especially in the theatre). Then she applies Occam’s Razor. – Aeon
Tags: Art, People, Words, Shakespeare, Occam, Sandra Newman, 03.18.19


When Culture Is At The End Of An Algorithm, We Lose The Juice Of Engaging With It

Christian Lorentzen: “The new books coverage is more like litter. Endless lists of recommendations blight the landscape with superlatives that are hard to believe, especially, as is inevitable, when they aren’t drawn from the work of critics but compiled by poorly paid writers who haven’t read the books they’re recommending, a standard practice in preview lists. Proliferating recommendations become what Elizabeth Hardwick called ‘a hidden dissuader, gently, blandly, respectfully denying whateve...
Tags: Art, Words, Harper, Elizabeth Hardwick, Audience, Christian Lorentzen, April 2019


After A Magazine Exposé, Amazon Pulls Books Touting Dangerous ‘Cures’ For Autism

Yes, even in 2019, a magazine article – in this case, in Wired – can make a difference. For instance, “Kerry Rivera’s Healing the Symptoms Known As Autism, which advocates dosing autistic children with a bleach-like substance, chlorine dioxide, was no longer available from the online giant.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, 03.14.19, Kerry Rivera


The Museum-Like Quality Of New York’s Antiquarian Book Fair

To be real, many book-lovers can’t afford the books, or even the ephemera, at the Antiquarian Book Fair. But hey, information wants to be free, right? That seems to be true at the fair, with “dealers happily telling the often fascinating stories behind their wares, even if a potential sale is nowhere in sight.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, New York, Words, 03.17.19


The Booker Prize-Winner Who Underwent An Exorcism

Marlon James knew he was gay from a young age, but he believed he shouldn’t be, so he underwent an exorcism through his church. “He describes the exorcism process as ‘a kind of mental control’: ‘Back then I thought they were just driving out demons,’ he recalls. James said he was sick multiple times during the ‘cure’: ‘Then one day it hit me: ‘What if I got rid of the church?’ And that worked smashingly.'” – The Observer (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, James, Marlon James, 03.17.19


This Presidential Candidate Liked An Author, So He Learned Norwegian In Order To Read The Untranslated Books

Go read the entire (short) story that the booksternet (Liternet?) is flipping out about. – Twitter
Tags: Art, Words, 03.16.19


At The London Book Fair, Publishers Salivate Over True Crime

Why is true crime so hot right now? Ask an agent: “I suspect the true-crime podcast thing is driving the current interest.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, 03.16.19


A Friend Asked This Baltimore Sun Reporter To Try Being A Private Eye. She Became A Bestselling Crime Novelist Instead

“In this extended interview, [Laura] Lippman discusses her transition from reporter to writer of such novels as What the Dead Know and Sunburn, how women over 60 make the best spies, and why she’s rooting for the decline of dead-girl fiction.” (watch animated version here) – Topic
Tags: Art, Words, Baltimore, 03.19, Laura -RSB- Lippman


The International Campaign To Rebuild And Restock The Mosul University Library

With well over half a million books in Arabic and more than one million antique maps, documents, and other materials (including a 9th-century Quran), the library was one of the most important in the Middle East — until ISIS began its destruction while it occupied the city (2014-17). Now the NGO Book Aid International and a project called the Mosul Book Bridge are gradually undoing the damage. – Publishing Perspectives
Tags: Art, Isis, Middle East, Words, 03.13.19, Mosul University Library, NGO Book Aid International


Books Need Readers To Be Books. But What About The Quality Of The Reader?

To exist as a book, the pages with their letters and spaces need a reader. We may think of books as unchanging material objects, but they only, as it were, happen when read; they have no absolute identity. And the nature of that reading—an experience extended over many hours, then mulled over for many more, for the book does not cease to happen the moment we turn the last page—will depend, to a large degree, on who the reader is. – New York Review of Books
Tags: Art, Words, Audience, 03.12.19


Has Literary Criticism Become Too “Nice.” Too Apolitical?

“Criticism” in The New York Times Book Review tends to look “positive,” by academic standards, not because it always says the book is good but because it offers market advice as to whether you should buy it, whether you will like it, without asking much about the market itself or about what it would mean about you or about the world if you did like it. – Chronicle of Higher Education
Tags: Art, Words, New York Times Book Review, 03.12.19


The 25 Top-Earning Authors Of The Past Ten Years

The top name on the list pulled in $290 million more than the runner-up, who in turn grossed just over twice as much as number three. The takeaway? “Franchises make money, and so do adaptations, but if you want to be a literary millionaire, you really have to write a) for children or b) a mystery (or romance) that strikes fear (or lust) in the hearts of the world.” (But isn’t there anyone writing in Chinese, Spanish, or Hindi who’s sold enough books to qualify?) – Literary Hub
Tags: Art, Words, 03.13.19


‘I’m Not A Gay Writer, I’m A Monster. Gay Writers Are Too Conservative.’ Are American Readers Finally Ready For James Purdy?

“Despite praise in his lifetime from Langston Hughes, Susan Sontag, Edward Albee, Gore Vidal, as well as – in later years – John Waters and Jonathan Franzen, Purdy … cast out by the US literary establishment,” which wasn’t ready for either his experimental style or his outré subject matter. (Nelson Algren called one of Purdy’s books “a fifth-rate avant-garde soap opera [about] prayer and faggotry.”) And Purdy’s delight in burning bridges didn’t help. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, US, Words, John Waters, Purdy, Nelson Algren, James Purdy, 03.11.19, Jonathan Franzen Purdy


A Gaggle Of Geese, A Pride Of Lions. A ??? of Emojis?

In written English right now, there’s little consensus on this question. National publications have not settled on a regular style. The Atlantic, for instance, used both (emoji, emojis) in the last quarter of 2015.  – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Atlantic, Words, Emojis, 03.12.19


Now You Can Listen To T.S. Eliot Read, And Talk About, His Poetry

“On December 4, 1950, two years after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, T.S. Eliot stood behind a lectern in the Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y and read some of his best work in front of hundreds of people.” The director of the Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center and the poet Billy Collins recently came across audio of that event, and they’ve offered excerpts for streaming. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, Eliot, Billy Collins, Kaufmann Concert Hall, Unterberg Poetry Center, 03.11.19


Why English Won’t Be Replaced As The World’s Lingua Franca Anytime Soon

The reason is inertia, basically: “[English] got there first, and there is no major expansion of globalization to shift the balance to another language. Today there are far more non-native English speakers than native speakers, and this means that English isn’t about the USA or the UK, but instead about its international use across cultures.” – Quartz (Quora)
Tags: Art, Usa, UK, World, Words, Lingua Franca, 03.07.19


Should We Just Get Rid Of The Nobel Prize In Literature?

There are last year’s scandals, the excessive secrecy, the ridiculously overdue reforms. (Only after the 2018 debacle did the Swedish Academy decide that it would expel any members with conflicts of interest or criminal investigations.) “The Nobel Prize in literature must become more transparent, more inclusive, and more positive,” argues Carrie Mullins, “or it risks being nothing at all.” – Electric Literature
Tags: Art, Words, Swedish Academy, 03.08.19, Carrie Mullins


A New AI Tool To Predict Whether The Text You’re Reading Was Written By AI

Why do we need it? Automatically produced texts use language models derived from statistical analysis of vast corpuses of human-generated text to produce machine-generated texts that can be very hard for a human to distinguish from text produced by another human. These models could help malicious actors in many ways, including generating convincing spam, reviews, and comments — so it’s really important to develop tools that can help us distinguish between human-generated and machine-generated t...
Tags: Art, Words, 03.08.19


A Plague Of Insta-Poets?

Often described as “Instapoets”, there are several writers sharing short fragments online to enormous followings. The biggest of these audiences belongs to 26-year-old Rupi Kaur: the author of two poetry collections, she has 3.5 million Instagram followers and has received by far the most media attention of any Instapoet. On her Instagram account, she alternates beautiful pictures of herself in elegant outfits with short poems written entirely in lower-case; many young, attractive poets have f...
Tags: Art, Words, Rupi Kaur, 03.06.19


Why Would Writers Give Two Book Characters The Same Name?

Why, to amplify meaning, of course. Or because you’re writing about Tudor England. In Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, for instance, “all the leading male characters apart from Henry VIII are named Thomas (it was the second-most-popular name in Tudor England). There is Thomas Cromwell, the ruthless hero. Thomas Wolsey, the Catholic cardinal. Thomas More, the Catholic zealot. Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury. And Thomas Boleyn, the depraved father of Anne Boleyn.” – The Atlantic ...
Tags: Art, Catholic, Words, Hilary Mantel, Canterbury, Wolf Hall, Thomas, Henry Viii, Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Tudor England, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Wolsey, 03.09.19, Thomas Boleyn


Twenty-Five Years After Daughters Of Africa Changed The Game, A New Generation Arises

It’s been 25 years, but not much time at all. “In many ways 1992 seems much longer ago than a quarter century; yet, while much has changed, many challenges remain to the publication of work by women of African descent.” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Africa, Words, 03.09.19


Why Do We Care Who Actually Wrote Nancy Drew?

Carolyn Keene didn’t exist; nor did Franklin W. Dixon, purported author of the Hardy Boy series. Who the writers actually were isn’t germane, really. “What was important was the author as a brand—a shortcut for readers to know that they were getting a consistent product—and arguably, in the case of Nancy Drew, a more consistent product than they might have received if Carolyn Keene had been a single individual. A real Carolyn Keene might have become bored of the project, she might have died, sh...
Tags: Art, Words, Nancy, Nancy Drew, Carolyn Keene, Franklin W Dixon, 03.07.19


As A Chaotic Brexit Approaches, Britons Buy Record Numbers Of Self-Help Books

The owner of City Books in Hove says the record-breaking £30 million self-help book business is new, but not confusing. “In 25 years of business, [Paul] Sweetman says he’s never known customers more in need of uplifting reading than they are now – a result, he believes, of the political climate both here and abroad.” – The Observer (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, Hove, 03.09.19, City Books, Paul -RSB- Sweetman


The Fifty Best One-Star Reviews Of ‘Wuthering Heights’ On Amazon

First of all, the main theme of these reviews is not the novel itself, but Jane Eyre. Then things keep on getting worse, and more hilarious: “While everyone stands around choking down a ball of moldy, stinky cheese acting upscale and phony, I’ll be eating my Velveeta and not forcing myself to like something that is overrated.” – LitHub
Tags: Amazon, Art, Words, Jane Eyre, 03.08.19


In The UK Translated Fiction Outsells English Fiction. It’s All About Collaboration

Of course, translating isn’t only the business of people who get paid to do it. Around 300 languages are used daily in London, and New York may be home to as many as 800, according to the Endangered Language Alliance. Yet any talk of translating literature—rather than shopping lists or doctors’ orders—is oddly esoteric. – Prospect
Tags: Art, UK, New York, London, Words, 03.07.19, Endangered Language Alliance Yet


The Frustrating Circular Firing Squad Of Some Wikipedia Sourcing

So Wikipedia cites a source for a piece of information. The source cites Wikipedia. And around and around it goes. Trying to find out the original sourcing can be a frustratingly circular exercise. – Slate
Tags: Art, Wikipedia, Words, 03.07.19, Wikipedia Sourcing


Library Of Congress Chief Has Plan To Pull In Many More Visitors – But Will It Still Be A Library?

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden’s master plan involves a makeover of the main building, including its beloved Great Hall and Main Reading Room, to add exhibition space. But some staffers and observers worry that the extra activity and foot traffic will change the nature of the place — as the leader of the staff union local put it, “All of us are interested in having people in the library. We don’t want to see it turned into an events center just because it’s beautiful.” – The Washington Post...
Tags: Art, Congress, Words, Great Hall, Carla Hayden, 03.07.19



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