A thing I compulsively do after I pick up my Kindle, but before I start actually reading anything, is browse through its bookstore. Even though I rarely buy books from Amazon in order to avoid contributing to the downfall of publishing as we know it or whatever, I have made at least a few random purchases, like Eric Schlosser's Chew on This, which, in the fog of early morning and the kind of gross, glowing wintergreen glaze atop the Kindle's black-and-white E-Ink pages, seemed like a sequel or an update to Fast Food Nation, which I had never read in its entirety. I was immediately struck not just by how [...]
Dear Committee Members is the second novel from PEN/Hemingway award finalist and creative writing professor Julie Schumacher. Written entirely in the form of letters of recommendation, the novel relays the academic trials and tribulations of Jason Fitger, a floundering novelist, creative writing professor and self-proclaimed "dinosaur" in the rapidly changing landscape of liberal arts education. At a time when literature departments are in danger of extinction and bureaucrats wield unprecedented power over university funds, Fitger aspires to speak truth to power through his rambling, disjointed, and cranky letters of recommendation. The best use for these letters, he believes, is not to praise his misguided students and colleagues but to [...]
I never thought I'd shake Questlove’s hand.
It was at the book release party for Bradley Spinelli’s novel Killing Williamsburg at Trash, a bar in Williamsburg, where Questlove was DJing. Spinelli had simply walked up to Brooklyn’s most famous alternative hip-hop star at his own book signing and asked; Spinelli mentioned that his novel was launching on World Suicide Prevention Day, and as Questlove scribbled his thousandth autograph of the day, Spinelli listed some of the great pop musicians who had committed suicide. Questlove rattled off some more as the people standing in line shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot and rolled their eyes. Half an hour [...]
1. Without lungs or other respiratory organs, we bookworms breathe through our skin. So we'll never hog the blankets!
2. Our skin exudes a lubricating fluid that makes it easier to move underground, as well as keeping our skin moist. But please, don't try to borrow our lubricating fluid: we need it in order to burrow beneath the earth and your Kiehl's is gonna be better for your T-zone anyways.
3. We bookworms really hate birds. And fishermen.
4. We are simultaneous hermaphrodites—so keep your cisgendered assumptions to [...]
It's publication day for both Amy Sohn and Emily Gould! Because they're both women, we should look inside these two new novels and see what they have in common! Isn't that the totally obvious and meaningful thing to do if you sit back and think about it for a minute???
• Both women.
• Written in English.
• Books are printed on off-white-ish paper with black-ish ink.
• Both contain women speaking out loud sometimes.
• Neither are Lena Dunham somehow???
• The first word of both books is "the."
• Emily's is blurbed by three men and one woman and Amy's is blurbed by all women (ooh and one [...]
"There is a battering ram quality to the contemporary novel, an insistence and repetition that perhaps permits the reader to hang in despite the frequent interruptions to which most ordinary readers leave themselves open." —Does this piece reference Faulkner? There's only one way to find out.
Big, bold Wallace Stevens rests there in his entirety, several pages dog-eared with the poems you wanted me to read. There is the copy of Flannery O’Connor’s stories that I can only open if I turn past the title page where, in black loopy ink, your well wishes wave. There is the paperback of Leaves of Grass that has no name on the inside cover, but I know it belonged to you. There is the cheerful, brightly colored edition of Goodbye, Columbus that is always trying to say hello with tennis courts and swimming pools on the first page; your definition of what it meant to be rich.
These are [...]
The leaders of American "literary culture" are worrying, gathering and organizing: The Wylie Agency has about a thousand clients. Many have not yet responded to Mr. Wylie’s query about Authors United, because they are traveling or are inattentive to email. But about 300 Wylie writers have signed on, as well as the estates of Saul Bellow, Roberto Bolaño, Joseph Brodsky, William Burroughs, John Cheever, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Hunter S. Thompson.
“Every single response without exception has been positive,” Mr. Wylie said.
There is no reason to doubt that the responses experienced by Andrew Wylie, an extremely powerful agent, have been uniformly positive: His fight on [...]
Amazon, apparently no longer all that comfortable with the role that it has settled into during the course of its ongoing standoff with the publisher Hachette—unrepentant and unyielding monopoly monster—now wishes to explain itself: It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 [...]
Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn't cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization.
For a monthly cost of zero dollars, it is possible to read six million e-texts at the Open Library, right now. On a Kindle, or any other tablet or screen thing. You can borrow up to five titles for two weeks at no cost, and read them in-browser or in any of several other formats (not all titles are supported in all formats, but most [...]
The thought of the future is often terrifying because we are biologically programmed to be frightened by dim uncertainty. But, as we've made steady progress toward the construction of a time machine, some pieces of the future have inadvertently slipped into our own time, providing a comforting sense of probability, if not certainty, about the fate of certain key elements of civilization: Mr. Zandri, an author of mystery and suspense tales, is published by Thomas & Mercer, one of Amazon Publishing’s many book imprints. He is edited by Amazon editors and promoted by Amazon publicists to Amazon customers, nearly all of whom read his books in electronic form on [...]
An outbreak of Ebola is on track to become the largest in history, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. There are now over 500 recorded cases spread across Guinea and Sierra Leone; the last few appeared in Monrovia, a dense city with about half a million people (and another half a million clustered close nearby).
In the history of Ebola, this is Very Bad: It's major outbreak in an unexpected location. But coinciding with this horrifying story seems to be a sterilization of the news itself—the b-matter in these stories is soft, considering. Here's how NPR backs readers up: Ebola often kills around two-thirds of [...]
"Random House will publish writer and critic Maud Newton’s first book, an examination of her obsession with genealogy and her own colorful family history, along with the science and superstition of ancestry in the culture at large. Newton’s essay, ‘America’s Ancestry Craze,’ is the cover story for the current issue of Harper’s magazine. This interdisciplinary study will draw on memoir, reporting, cultural criticism, scientific and anthropological research to understand the fear and fascination behind genealogy, and why it has become the second most popular hobby in the United States. Newton began blogging about books and culture in 2002; within a few years her site was one of the most widely [...]
"Rising inequality is not a law of nature – it's not even a law of economics. It is a consequence of political and economic arrangements, and those arrangements can be changed," writes John Lanchester. I'm a cynical fuck who thinks hope for a better world is futile since we're all doomed to toil as servants for the thin and calcifying slice of the upper class that runs everything and there's no way we're ever going to get it together enough to change things, particularly with all the distractions and sedatives this modern world has to hey is that a new iPhone? But Lanchester, [...]
I didn’t write the book because the thought of it made me feel vaguely ill at all times. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it directly I was thinking about it. None of the thoughts were good.
I didn’t write the book because it was a book about betrayal that could only be facilitated by my betrayal of other people, many of whom had already been betrayed. This wouldn’t have been a clever metatextual commentary on the nature of betrayal; it would have just been really quite mean of me, and sad.
I didn’t write the book because I thought that in the end it would not [...]
In 1969, a psychologist named G. Harry McLaughlin published the results of a number of experiments he’d made on speed readers in the Journal of Reading. His fastest subject was Miss L., "a university graduate with an IQ of 140" who had taken a speed reading course and claimed to have achieved speeds of sixteen thousand words per minute "with complete comprehension." He hooked her up to the electro-oculograph, a device that measures eye movements, and let her rip.
Miss L. read Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust at 10,000 words per minute [...] When she was half way through I asked her for a recall [...] Miss L. recalled [...]
It has been more than a full moon cycle since one was able to purchase books published by Hachette in a reasonable manner from Amazon, which—despite selling books largely as an accident of history, and now essentially vestigially—has a forty percent share of new book sales in the U.S. But this hostage situation will apparently see only one resolution: the complete and utter capitulation of Hachette to whatever Amazon is demanding. Russ Grandinetti, a Kindle executive, told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon "was willing to suffer some damage to its reputation and was simply doing what is 'in the long-term interest of our customers.'" Books were [...]
I barged into the men’s, and felt stares burning hard like reading or noon, felt them looking me up and over, felt them looking me over and down, and all the while just holding their pens, they do it different oh no they don’t, they do it standing up
It’s a bit uncanny how these lines in “The Feeling of Needing a Pen” a poem in Patricia Lockwood’s new book, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, echo recent criticisms by a handful of discomfited reviewers. “They make me feel like the guy who ruins all the fun,” wrote Jonathan Farmer in Slate, in his review. Adam Plunkett, writing for the [...]
"My copy came with CONFIDENTIAL stamped on every page and a nondisclosure agreement that expires today." Thus arrived the new book by Glenn Greenwald, the most unrelenting man on the planet, on the doorsteps of reviewers.
The book, No Place to Hide, does a few things: It recounts how Greenwald and Laura Poitras met Edward Snowden in Hong Kong to begin the process of exposing the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs; it provides mix of familiar and fresh details—to the public, anyway, having been squirreled away by Greenwald for nearly a year—about those programs; and it excoriates "the establishment media" for their complicity with [...]