In the modern world we’re never more than a glance away from a digital display of today’s date or the time to the nearest second. The use of GPS devices in cars or even in our own pockets with smartphones has all but eroded the art of map-reading and navigation. This is all exceedingly convenient, of course, but I think that many of us in developed nations are feeling increasingly disconnected from the fundamental principles and processes that support our lives, sensing that our basic skills are atrophying and perhaps feeling anxious of being a little too reliant on the magic of modern technology.
"The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show," said Leonard Cohen a few years back and it is something that resonates with me for all sorts of reasons, but especially because it is so difficult to deny. You will not find that particular quote in Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters but you will find so many other that are just as good that it would be silly for you not to own a copy. If we have to grow old—and if you know of an easy alternative please do not keep it to yourself—it is nice to [...]
The dude who wrote that "funny" Goldman Sachs Twitter feed despite never having worked for Goldman Sachs just got his second six-figure book deal, so today is one of those rare days when you're[...]
There were a number of reasons to be skeptical when I arrived at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk with Benjamin Kunkel about Utopia or Bust, his new collection of introductory essays about contemporary leftist theorists, ranging from the literary critic Fredric Jameson to the anthropologist and prominent Occupy personality David Graeber. The most obvious reason to be skeptical was that we were meeting at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk about Marxism. “An important part of Marxism is blaming others,” Kunkel said—explaining that this bar was the suggestion of a friend. “At least, in good proletarian fashion, we’re just eating French fries.”[...]
You are being tracked. Besides comprehensive government spying, there are hundreds of data brokers compiling and selling information about you: Phone records, texts, phone location, computer location, web history, social networking use, background checks, credit history and now even entrance to some retail stores, with facial recognition linking you to your online data.
Julia Angwin, a reporter for ProPublica who was on a Pulitzer-winning team [...]
2014 has been called the Year of Reading Women; it should also be the Year of Reading Muriel Spark. Just short of a hundred years since her birth, and nearly 60 since the publication of her first novel, Spark remains as essential as ever. She cannot be reduced.
But that’s not to say a little facelift wouldn't hurt. New Directions will be revamping and re-releasing eight of her novels here in America later this year, including Man Booker favorites The Driver’s Seat and Loitering with Intent. (My favorite part about the new editions is that when you line up all of the spines together, they make a [...]
"I was supposed to fly to Afghanistan today but my body armor didn't arrive in time," was something Willem Marx said to me one of the first times we met. He says things like this on a not infrequent basis. Marx currently works at Bloomberg TV and has reported from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uzbekistan, the Arctic Circle, and other less trodden parts of the world.
In 2009, he spent time [...]
Here's a look at how six great independent bookstores make it in the big city, which is actually a question I have always wanted answered. The Park Slope Community Bookstore has done it in part by catering to Park Slope's child-related needs, which seems obvious; BookCourt did it by buying their building and, eventually, the building next door. PowerHouse Arena, as anyone who goes to things knows, does it by tirelessly having things to go to (and lots and lots of space rental). The lovely Greenlight books did it through canny investment and fundraising and by being a bookstore where a bookstore was needed. And Sarah McNally of McNally [...]
On one side of The Divide—the gap in the justice system between the rich and the poor that provides the title for Matt Taibbi’s brilliant and enraging new book—financiers and other wealthy people commit egregious crimes, including laundering drug money, and rarely face jail time. Prosecutors worry about "collateral consequences" before filing charges.
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, by Matt Taibbi with illustrations by Molly Crabapple, will be published on Tuesday. You can order it now now now, wherever capitalism allows you to obtain books:
Maybe you're sick of discussing awful male directors. Or maybe you think there are male directors who are awful, but still need a defense based on the strength of their work, or even that they are misunderstood geniuses and not awful at all. You've seen the films and yes, you recognize the misogyny, the excessive violence, the homophobia, but you can recognize that without throwing away the gorgeous cinematography, the artful cadence of the dialogue, the contributions he's made to the field of filmmaking. And so to heck with society's puritanical standards of good taste, you're just going to keep watching those Woody Allen movies and you don't care who [...]
Katherine Dunn worked on the book for more than a decade. She also worked as a waitress, a bartender, and a house painter. In 1981, she started writing about boxing for local newspapers. (A collection of her boxing essays, One Ring Circus, was published in 2009.) Dunn also wrote an advice column for a local newspaper and did some radio and local TV commercial voice-over work. (Her voice is a scotch n’ cigarette alto that resonates warmly.) Occasionally she’d tell friends about her work in progress, Geek Love. “They would groan and say, ‘For Christ sake, Dunn, no one’s going to publish that, no one’s going to want to [...]
#1: Don't apologize for being late with a Starbucks latte in your hand.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) December 19, 2013
Last night, the author of the "parody twitter account" (*shudder*) called @GSElevator—that's short for Goldman Sachs Elevator, you see—was escorted out of the closet by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
To anyone who'd ever met anyone who worked at Goldman Sachs, it was obviously fiction, as in, made-up, invented, concocted. So was his writing on fashion and manhood at Business Insider: It was sometimes hilarious but almost never had the ring of truth. In recent times, the account has grown quieter and less specific, although apparently it [...]
Amazon’s entry into publishing has created an awkward divide, giving some book people a second or a third chance in an imperilled industry while tainting them in the eyes of others. The literary agent, contemplating the future of the editors currently at Amazon, said, “You’d have to consider the time you spent with Vichy when you’re looking for work after the occupation.” Benjamin Anastas, a novelist who couldn’t find an American publisher for his third book, told a friend that he was going to publish his fourth, a memoir called “Too Good to Be True,” with Amazon. The friend, a novelist who had once worked at Harcourt—the house that [...]
Marked the momentous occasion of finishing Middlemarch with a refreshingly candid souvenir photograph. pic.twitter.com/bxiLoSj8
— Marieke Hardy (@mariekehardy) August 24, 2012
Results from a new survey say that, if you are an Average American, two-year-olds read more often than you do. And if you read literature at all, that’s something, because 28 percent of U.S. adults did not read a single book in 2012. If there has ever been a sure sign of the collapse of civilization, it is numbers like these.
So let’s get this straight: I’m not telling you to completely avoid George Eliot’s 1871-ish (it was [...]
With the latest volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle appearing in English soon, a flurry of Karl Ove Knausgaard coverage is bound to accompany it. As a big Karl Ove Knausgaard fan, I approve.
Explosive Space Between Surreal And Concrete Apparently Adjacent To Intersection Of Art And Violence
"Created in the explosive space between the surreal and the concrete, The Good Inn follows Solder Boy—the lone survivor of the explosion of the battleship Iéna—as he wanders aimlessly after the accident, falls deeply for an innkeeper's daughter, and even more deeply into a bizarre, alternate universe he discovers through a hole in his bedroom wall. The world he finds exists at the intersection of art and violence, and introduces readers to the very real (and surreal) characters who created the first narrative pornographic film." —Black Francis [...]
Kevin Bacon’s new video imploring millennials to raise their 80s awareness did not mention Billy Bragg’s 1986 song “There Is Power in a Union,” but the idea that there is any power in a union probably seems as remote to many millennials as parachute pants or the White Pages. Actually, this is probably true of anyone born after about 1965. It’s been a long time since we have thought that most workers can realistically be something other than lone and lonely individuals forced to accept whatever terms of employment they can find and hope not to get fired.Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity [...]
With the writers abuzz with talk of securing Amtrak Residencies, Tom Zoellner's concisely titled Train comes at a good time. The Los Angeles writer rode the rails in six different countries on three continents to research his new book. He also traveled from New York to Los Angeles on our often-embattled national carrier.
Amtrak appears to have recently scored a rare PR win, after managing to turn an offhand remark from Awl-pal Alexander Chee into an as-yet-unnamed but perhaps-soon-to-be-formalized program aimed at giving writers free or low-cost rides. Writer Jessica Gross has already done such a rolling residency; Chee will take to the rails [...]
Kevin Roose's Young Money, in which he spend a couple years with the bright young things from fancy schools who end up populating the analyst desks at Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs and the other sad and storied firms of Wall Street, is out today, and you may enjoy it! It is a tale of millennials wrestling with greed, sexism, stupidity, New York City, expectation, dumb-ass bosses, the rising lure of Silicon Valley, privilege and the meaning of life. Like all books, you can find it at Amazon, McNally Jackson, B&N, a bookstore near you. This is not a sponsored message, this is just [...]
Have you heard of the Voynich Manuscript? Otherwise known as the best manuscript-based mystery in the entire world? If you haven't, read the Wikipedia page, which in its own right is a stellar #longread, but if you want a #shortread, okay, here it is, so you can beef up before learning about the newest plot twist in this mystery.