Posts Tagged: Books
5

The Book I Didn't Write

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 [...]

11

Man Vs. Word

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 [...]

2

Hostage Situation Ongoing

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 [...]

3

A Conversation with Patricia Lockwood

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 [...]

2

What Would Glenn Greenwald Do?

"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 [...]

20

The Dead Cannot Consent

The End of the Tour is a movie currently in production based on David Lipsky's 2010 book, Although of Course you End Up Becoming Yourself: a Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. In 1996, shortly after Wallace’s sudden burst into literary superstardom with the publication of Infinite Jest, Rolling Stone had sent Lipsky to conduct an interview with with him. The magazine spiked the interview, and years later, after Wallace's suicide, Lipsky incorporated the material into his book—to my mind, the best about David Foster Wallace that anyone has yet written.

There is every reason to anticipate that the movie will be great: It stars Jason Segel [...]

0

How to Write John Updike's Deathbed

A couple of weeks ago, Adam Begley was in town to publicize his biography of John Updike, which is, as Louis Menand put it, “an extended essay in biographical criticism, an insight into the man through the work and the work through the man.”

I’d intended to talk to Begley, who I’ve known for years, about a scene towards the book’s end. Updike is dying at home, surrounded by his wife, Martha, and ex-wife, Mary. It’s a vividly rendered paragraph and I wondered: Had Begley been present?

He was still at home when Mary telephoned Martha and said she’d like to come see her ex-husband. Martha suggested that [...]

9

The Brooklyn Prophesy

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 [...]

4

10 More Truths About Dating a Bookworm

Previously: 10 Truths About Dating a Bookworm; Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With.

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 [...]

6

Compare and Contrast: Emily Gould's "Friendship" and Amy Sohn's "The Actress"

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 [...]

0

Pain Demanded of Pleasure

"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.

7

The Books They Left Behind

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 [...]

0

Books Are Good

As far as fake holidays generated by committees of well-meaning bureaucrats go, World Book and Copyright Day is nice enough.

2

Where Am I? And What Time Is It?

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.

[...]

64

Seriously, Fuck You, "Kindle Unlimited"

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 [...]

0

Monopolies of the Future Past

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 [...]

6

Ebola and You

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 [...]

1

The History Of Maud Newton

"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 [...]

0

Do You Like Stories?

Journalist David Wolman, author of The End Of Money, is trying something: A digitally self-published nonfiction collection that takes place all over the world. Writers rarely get the chance to assemble their favorite work. Why shouldn't we/you/they/I do it ourselves?

10

The Faulkner Truthers

"I am the best in America, by God," William Faulkner wrote to his editor in 1939, and history has only confirmed that he was not deceived as to the quality of his gift. Faulkner's position in the American literary pantheon is such that his life has been dissected from every possible angle, inside the academy and out—even James Franco had a go at the Old Man, as some Faulkner devotees like to call him. But nobody has yet succeeded in tracing the exact path by which his genius developed.

He dropped out of high school; he dropped out of college. He corresponded with no mentor, belonged to no literary school [...]