The point is not to rank inflammatory books like game highlights. It’s to remind readers that information hasn’t always been free, and that we have librarians to thank for its freedom.
The New Yorker has a retrospective on Carmen Balcells, a Spanish literary agent who brought writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Jorge Luis Borges to international fame. Balcells passed away last week at the age of 85....more
For The Millions, Jacob Lambert explores how listening to music while writing can influence performance. Although some studies show that music may impede concentration and “disrupt writing fluency,” others suggest that music can “lift your mood and increase your arousal.” Lambert is ultimately inconclusive in the article, however he does reference Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, which was written while listening to Nine Inch Nails:
It’s a tempting narrative, and one that fits with the Internet’s culture of simple solutions: If you’re having trouble with that short story, just put on some Brian Eno.
I think that’s avant-garde—the meeting of need and language.
Over at Lit Hub, contemporary poetic hero Ben Lerner sits down with contemporary poetic heroine Eileen Myles to talk about vernacular, supercilious labels, the trials and tribulations of a young poet after fame, and a mutual confusion over what a “folk poet” is....more
For Slate, Ruth Graham suggests that improved access to books and a decline in censorship has turned Banned Books Week into “crock”. So “instead of hand-wringing about a nonexistent wave of censorship,” Graham encourages readers to think about the week with some positivity and celebrate that “books won.”...more
A preacher cares for his daughter’s child while she has a nervous breakdown in a foreign land. A teenager watches her mother slowly die. Another teen mourns his father, who that summer had been “executed by the state of Florida.”
After all, a toy boat is hardly its former self after a lifetime at the bottom of the sea. No matter how intact an archive, it can never fully reconstruct the texture and completeness of the original memory.
For Aeon, Alana Massey writes about the long memory of the Internet and the inherent imperfections in archiving every piece of data....more
Tobias Carroll, writing for Hazlitt, dissects the influence video games have had on literature, from writers like Ernest Cline of Ready Player One to Jonathan Lethem and an entire literary anthology, Press Start to Play. We’re only waiting for Franzen to admit his obsession with playing as Oddjob in Goldeye 64, making all his friends hate him....more
New York City bookstore The Strand has started selling “Make America Read Again” hats that mock The Donald’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Toledo-area bookstore J’s Book Shelf is helping local inmates get access to reading material, donating 22,000 books....more
Caroline Smith writes about parenthood and television in the Saturday Essay. The wildly popular AMC drama Mad Men provides a thematic frame for Smith’s own foray into marriage and motherhood. She even teaches a college writing course on the television show, allowing her to analyze the “messiness” of Mad Men and real life....more
Ebook sales have fallen 10 percent in the first five months of 2015. The surge of electronic books between 2008 and 2010 coupled with the stress of economic depression on independent bookstores seemed a portent of an all-digital future, but print books remain and many digital consumers are returning to physical books....more
Emily Gaynor writes for Weird Sister on the performative aesthetic of Internet “sad girls,” who use their work to explore the boundaries of acceptable/unacceptable public displays of emotion for women:
Performing sadness is a self-indulgent practice, and that’s part of what makes it radical.
Young British bibliophiles may have found the Golden Ticket. In a six-week campaign backed by the National Literacy Trust (NLT), McDonald’s will offer chapters from Roald Dahl’s books with its Happy Meals. The Rumpus would choose Matilda over a Lego toy any day—especially when 15.4% of British kids don’t have a book of their own, according to the NLT....more
At Electric Literature, Kelly Luce discusses the new collection of Lucia Berlin’s stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, why she loves her fiction, and how the author’s work has often been overlooked until now:
Maybe it’s because she was a woman writing largely about women, from the perspective of women, and also about real sadness—not cute pat-her-on-the-head romantic problems and family matters.