Oh perfect, Google News has announced a revolutionary new product: badges for your Google News Reading Activity. See now when you prove you are Good At Reading, your Google Teacher gives you a gold star for the day.
Actually, no gold stars: the badges range "from Bronze to Ultimate," which… that's not really a coherent scale? I think folks just think no one knows what "platinum" is anymore and why it's "better" than gold. But come on. It's not like I'm suggesting maybe rhodium should start showing up in the metal-based scale of BADGIFICATION.
Anyway, R U going to READ MOAR now that Google gives you [...]
"In college, during the time that I went to a college that had majors, I thought mine would be English, so I took a poetry class because it was required. The professor had long, long center-parted flat brown hair and was rumored to be going through a divorce. The celebrity she most closely resembled was the farm wife in the painting American Gothic crossed with an Aubrey Beardsley engraving of the Lady of Shalott. (This is how I thought about things at the time.) We read poems by women poets who were dissatisfied with their domestic lives, or by Randall Jarrell posing as one of these women…. Everything about the [...]
"For a time, the iPad made everything worse. It was too easy to check social media, for example. When Dustin began feeling like an internet widow as I walked through the apartment, silently moving from device to device, we set rules on usage, which included talking to him again. The iPad then quickly disappointed: A visit to Hulu asked me to pay for something I could watch for free on my computer. My current print magazine subscriptions did not transfer to the iPad—I would have to either repurchase my magazines, an unpleasant idea, or switch to the iPad-only version, and at only a slight discount compared to the print-subscription rate. [...]
Laura Miller takes issue with National Novel Writing Month: her concern is that this is a symptom of the Culture of Narcissism™ and that it means none of these would-be writers reads, or at least, none of them will have time to read throughout the month of November. (Her argument is actually fairly complex, so it's worth reading for yourself; it's also vigorously rebutted elsewhere.) Apparently the world is plenty full of people who write but do not read? This has not been my experience but I have not met everyone, so I won't judge. She has further complaints: "I am not the first person to point out [...]
At the end of Gary Shteyngart's near-future satire Super Sad True Love Story, I sank into a curious exhaustion. I had impulsively bought the discounted hardcover while battling a poisoned haze of emotions-an agent is peddling my own near-future novel to publishers; I wanted to demonstrate the commercial viability of near-future-based literature; I wanted assurance that what I've written and rewritten over the past few years had not been made redundant overnight. I was afraid to discover better, streamlined permutations of my own ideas, and I was further afraid that Shteyngart's rich voice would alert me to the holes in my not-as-meticulous alternative universe. I came into the thing [...]
It's the FBI's super-cute reading library on Islam: "There’s Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes, who claims to have 'confirmed' that President Obama was once a practicing Muslim, and whose book asks, 'Why would terrorists oppress women if this did not have something to do with their Islamic outlook?' A book called Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology ties 'normative Islam' to 'horrendous cruelty and inhumanity.'" We're in good hands!
Yesterday Apple introduced a new version of Safari, along with a ton of other stuff, and it has something they call Reader. Some time back, we'd all heard that Apple was getting into the game, with what people were calling "Reading List," which would let you "collect webpages." This language was suspicious and largely wrong. What Reader does is pop up a nice, easy-readin' overlay over the website you're "at," allowing you to read without distraction—and also to print it or to email it to a friend. It deals with pagination really well; it looks great, and it makes sense.
Its sensible structure is, at least in part, [...]
Barnes & Noble? Forget what you've heard about sales struggles and investor confidence and whatnot: they're in it to win it. (Photo by Richard Kim.)
As to those, who in presence of their betters are too lowly in speech so that they bring not their voice whole to the lips, it happened to me and without full utterance I began:1
Yes, it is terrible, and sudden2. He thrown everything off balance.3 And then he did go off balance on the ice, taking a step back from the eyes which had penetrated him and emptied his face.4 What was that dim distant music, those vestiges of color in the air?5 The penalty of light forever.6 Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out.7 [...]
The final story in Elisa Albert’s debut collection How This Night Is Different is in the form of a letter to Philip Roth from “Elisa Albert.” In it, the author—or her alter-ego, or whatever—offers to bear the aging, famously childless author a son or daughter. It’s a joke, and it isn’t. It’s hilarious either way. And for (h/t Julie Klausner) Jewish Girls who have considered suicide when Zuckerman Unbound was enuf, reading it produces the uncanny sensation of having had the top of one’s head unscrewed and one’s brain contents poured directly onto a page, which one is somehow then reading. I mean, [...]
Understanding Thomas Bernhard as music: "A lot of Bernhard must be logistical, how to pace, how to rank, how to hide. When to deepen the attack, when and how to move on."
Sam MacLaughlin: Hi Dustin!
Dustin Kurtz: Hello Samuel. So, introductions of our various stances, maybe?
Dustin: Emphasis on the sad and white, yes. Our manliness being in dispute at times.
Sam: At times. I do carry a tote bag. And: you're not a female novelist, are you?
Dustin: No, so I think we can agree that my dislike of this book won't come from anything as disagreeable as politics. Unless there is a political party fighting for better prose?
It's a generally accepted rule that you shouldn't take too seriously anything an author says while promoting his book on the radio. Or at least I thought it was a generally accepted rule. Certainly, Christopher Buckley tells a great anecdote about the time he was asked by a radio host whether, per the author bio on his novel Little Green Men, he really had acted as policy advisor to William Howard Taft. Not only did Buckley happily confirm that he had advised President Taft, but he spent the remainder of the interview discussing the specific advice he'd imparted to the (very) late statesman. Of course Buckley said something ridiculous [...]
In the latest installment of what is somehow the Internet's only cooking and book chat show, Emily Gould chats with author Sigrid Nunez about her new book, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag, which is brand new, out this week, so get it right now, it's short and terrific!
Cooking the Books is directed by Valerie Temple and shot and edited by Andrew Gauthier. You can see all the Cooking the Books episodes here or even subscribe via iTunes. Previously: Emma Rathbone Makes Strawberry Wafer Cookies; Doogie Horner Makes "Gettin' Laid Lemonade," Emily Gould and Tao [...]
Barbara Comyns is always being compared to writers X, Y or Z “on acid.” The acid part is a cop-out; her voice is clear and direct, even when describing surreal or hyperreal situations, and her crisp descriptions are not kaleidoscopic or druggy in the least. The comparisons to other writers, apt or not, are never a list of her formative influences; she didn’t have any.
Comyns was born in 1909 in a big house on the Avon, fourth of the six children of a drunk father and an indifferent mother. The family managed to be aristocratic and poor at once, but like many aristocrats they [...]
Today, on the nearly-over Oprah Winfrey show: "One family comes forward about their secret relationship with Michael Jackson. Then, best-selling author Jonathan Franzen and Oprah's new book club pick." While Franzen has taken the Oprahtunity to recommend 34 books to America, Oprah's America has already weighed in on him. Note: sic throughout.
Emily72: I sware! don't people know how to raise kids anymore?! Parents keep apologizing for being incharge, for heavens sake! No wonder people are insecure and act like idiots.
Buckley06: I cannot understand what Oprah saw in this unless it is the constant political rants. If I have to read one more, I swear [...]
"At around 11 or 12, I became completely obsessed with reading, probably because I was in a hormonal shit storm and couldn’t deal with human beings. My recollection of my 6th grade year is spending each day with my head on my desk. After school, I went to the fantasy section of the Cambridge Public Library and sat on the floor, piling through each title; Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which I read several times, Lloyd Alexander’s various books like Taran Wanderer, some series about dragons which I am blanking on, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Narnia, etc." —The Magnetic Fields' Claudia Gonson discusses the books that [...]
This is an interesting idea, that web design (with its ads! And colors!) and also being on the web (with IMs! And diversions!) is bad for reading. I'm not sure I agree all told with these arguments but I do also enjoy me some Instapaper.