Posts Tagged: melville house

The Laws of War

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Government documents aren’t exactly page-turners, making hefty tombs like the 74,000 page tax code and the 33,000 page Obamacare law unlikely additions to any summer beach reading lists. The 1,200 page Department of Defense Law of War Manual might seem comparatively short, until you realize its a document that defines every military procedure from the very basic rules of conduct to the limits of torture.

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Amazon: The Root of Book Littering?

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The strange case of the “Literature Litterbug”—a mystery perp who’s been dumping used books along a Colorado highway for a year or more—has come to a close, bringing with it a pun-filled police report and plenty of finger-pointing. Glenn Plasden admits that the littering citation was “by the book,” and explains that he simply couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the huge stock he acquired when a Boulder bookstore went out of business eight years ago; he’d been dumping them a few at a time from his moving car, figuring nobody would notice.

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Books Without Books

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If you’re old enough to remember VHS cassettes, its likely you also remember the revolutionary straight-to-video category of movies. Now, Audible wants to do the same for literature with straight-to-audiobooks. Audible, an Amazon subsidiary, is a key player in the billion-dollar audiobook industry and currently has 30 books in the works as audiobook originals.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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To help us cope with the passing of Leonard Nimoy, Melville House shared audio recordings of the baritone-voiced Vulcan reading excerpts from Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. The find is definitely worth a listen, and in this newly revived age of plans for Mars missions, the excerpts of this creative duo serve as an elegant reminder of the Martian imaginings of years past.

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Worthwhile Work

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Dissatisfaction among the modern white-collar working class might stem from the fact that many jobs simply don’t feel necessary. Strike! Magazine has been advertising on the London Underground with quotes from David Graeber’s 2013 essay, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” in which he claims many jobs feel like they’ve been created simply to keep people working.

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Who Robbed Mark Twain’s Grave?

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Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, a dastardly criminal (or Mark Twain superfan) stole a bronze plaque of Twain’s profile from his gravestone in Elmira, N.Y. At Melville House, former Elmira resident Alex Shephard examines the city’s complicated relationship with its literary past—and swears that, although he was home for Christmas, he didn’t do it.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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With the Senate Intelligence Committee’s online release of their Torture Report summary and Melville House’s announcement last week that it will publish a bound copy of the summary report at the end of this year, torture has been in the air.

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Melville House to Publish Torture Report

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Melville House will publish the Senate Torture Report in paperback and e-book on December 30th. The report, released Tuesday, is currently available to read online, but Melville House hopes that publishing it in print form will reach a wider audience. “It’s probably the most important government document of our generation,” says co-publisher Dennis Johnson, “even one of the most significant in the history of our democracy.”

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Turning to Baldwin During Tragedy

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Art has to be a confession. I don’t mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort, it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover, too, the terms with which they are connected to other people.

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Throwing Hachette to the Wolves

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Amazon and Hachette appear to have entered into a war of attrition, a battle that Hachette, with a more limited budget, is surely going to lose. Alone, Hachette will fall. News that Simon & Schuster easily signed a deal with Amazon was a major blow—and that might just be exactly what Amazon is counting on, proposes Josh Cook over at Melville House.

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Author Roboto

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At Melville House, Liam O’Brien delves into the fictional and factual history of book-writing computers, from Roald Dahl’s “The Great Automatic Grammatizator” to the Russian computer that rewrote Anna Karenina in the style of Murakami. With some media outlets already using bots to pen articles, he wonders if the robots will be coming for literature next.

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For Whom Amazon Tolls

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As the Amazon versus Hachette dispute drags on into its fifth month, Alex Shepard, over at Melville House, examines the conflict, and what it means for publishers and authors:

Traditional publishers can’t do what Amazon does; Amazon can’t do what traditional publishers do (and no, the fact that bookstores don’t carry books published by Amazon is not the only reason why this is true, though that’s a subject for another post).

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Is There Too Much Translation?

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Writing over at Brooklyn Quarterly, Will Evans discusses why he founded a publishing house dedicated to translation:

In addition to being a philosophical problem, literary translation is also a contentious business matter. There are thousands of good to all-time-great books published in the world every year in every language imaginable, but only a couple hundred of those ever get published in English, and that’s in a good year.

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