Friday, July 29, 2016

Literary Landscapes: Letters on Fire

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”
~ Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere’s Fan

INK BOTTLE“I say ‘the great literature’ not because of its aura of cultural strenuousness, but simply because, in the past, there is only great literature. Only the great stands the racket of time and survives from generation to generation; the rest dies for lack of staying power.”
~ V.S. Pritchett, My Good Books (courtesy of Patrick Kurp)
Literary Trojka:
 We are supposed to be the Cold War soldiers who had never blown their composure ...
Libertarians like genre fiction but tend to ignore romance novels. Want to understand the importance of work and free markets? Crack open a bodice-ripper... Hot War Rivers 

GRANDMA, GRANDPA, AND ME"I’ve been thinking about my grandparents ever since I started reading Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J.D. Vance, who grew up in Middletown, Ohio, joined the Marines, attended Yale Law School, and now works in Silicon Valley. It tells the story of how the members of his family, who moved to Ohio from Breathitt County, Kentucky, in the hope of escaping the grinding Appalachian poverty into which they were born, were permanently scarred by the world they left behind, the same world that Gracie and Albert had left behind them three-quarters of a century earlier."
Before the Fall - Terry Teachout Going Dark Memoirs 

“When editors and publishers feel they need to fight for every moment of planned reading, and readers are experiencing a shrinking cultural attention span, it’s surprising that large books inherently make the most market sense. With this pattern of investment behavior, major presses are inadvertently helping foster an environment where American indie presses can thrive by doing the very thing they’re best at: being small and, by extension, focusing on creativity and originality over sales.” The Atlantic inside Cold River ...

Whether his strange blend of fact and fiction elicits delight, astonishment, or boredom -- or all three -- give Geoff Dyer his due: He's an original... True to himself

Tim Parks disdain the conventions of book talk and the posturings of the literary establishment. He ridicules everyone but himself...   Dyceish Observations 

Rousseau was a hypocrite for our times. He preached family values but exposed himself to women and was given to compulsive masturbation, though he warned against it in his writings...  via Joneses 

Books burn at 451 degrees F. The human body burns at 1,500 degrees. “Where they have burned books," said Heinrich Heine, "they will end in burning human beings”...  Literary History Repeating Itself 

"A story is like a human face," says Svetlana Alexievich. "We have as many stories as human faces. You might have similar facial features, but they're all a little different"... Memoirs of Different Iron Curtains 

"The Clerk, The Thief, His Life as a Baker: Ashton Embry and the Supreme Court Leak Scandal." In 2002, John B. Owens published an article bearing that title in theJournal of Supreme Court History, a publication of the Supreme Court Historical Society

Literature is full of impostors, but few have pulled off a hoax as brazen or bizarre as JT Leroy, the novelist who wasn't who he seemed ...  Proofing Door Stoppers - Cold River ;-) 

Geoff Dyer on Kerouac

O'Keeffe and America


*Exquisite masochism Review of note ...

“I don’t know of any thing in my book to be criticised on by honourable men. Is it on my spelling?—that’s not my trade. Is it on my grammar?—I hadn’t time to learn it, and make no pretensions to it. Is it on the order and arrangement of my book?—I never wrote one before, and never read very many; and, of course, know mighty little about that. Will it be on the authorship of the book?—this I claim, and I hang on to it, like a wax plaster. The whole book is my own, and every sentiment and sentence in it. I would not be such a fool, or knave either, as to deny that I have had it hastily run over by a friend or so, and that some little 
alterations have been made in the spelling and grammar; and I am not so sure that it is not the worse of even that, for I despise this way of spelling contrary to nature. And as for 
grammar, it’s pretty much a thing of nothing at last, after all the fuss that’s made about it. In some places, I wouldn’t suffer either the spelling, or grammar, or any thing else to be touch’d; and therefore it will be found in my own way. But if any body complains that I have had it looked over, I can only say to him, her, or them—as the case may be—that while critics were learning grammar, and learning to spell, I, and ‘Doctor Jackson, L.L.D.’ were fighting in the wars; and if our hooks, and messages, and proclamations, and cabinet writings, and so forth, and so on, should need a little looking over, and a little correcting of the spelling and the grammar to make them fit for use, its just nobody’s business. Big men have more important matters to attend to than crossing their ts—, and dotting their I’s—, and such like small things.” 
~The Autobiography of Davy Crockett
       I'm looking forward to my to-be-podcast conversation with Tyler Cowen, and at his Marginal Revolution weblog he invites readers to tell him What should I ask Michael Orthofer ? So if you have questions ..... 
       (35 responses so far, last I checked -- though I haven't read them, yet. Should I ? Don't want to be over-prepped. (Oh, who am I kidding, of course I am going to peek ....))
Tyler's conversation with Michael published on 28 July 2016 AD

Ink-stained wretches learn
At fires on ice-cold nights that
Pencils never freeze
(Shaperners Sold Out)

Hands tapdance on keys
Clacks halt. You forgot to get
The name of the dog.
(Bessie aka Bestia and Saint)

* There’s going to be a new season of Making a Murderer. [Slate]

What for a smoker is non-fiction, for a non-smoker is fiction. That majestic story by Julio Ramón Ribeiro, for example, about the smoker who desperately jumps out the window to rescue a pack of cigarettes, and who, years later, very ill, his wife keeping a vigilant watch over him, escapes to the beach every day to unearth, with the skill of an anxious puppy, the pack of cigarettes he has hidden in the sand. Non-smokers don’t understand these stories. They think they’re exaggerated; they read them cavalierly. A smoker, on the other hand, treasures them.

We love our friends. But any explanation tends to feel inconclusive, vague, banal. Friendship defies language ... 

How to focus on the friendly people in every story ...

Umberto Eco on how to travel with a salmon

Henri Cole on swimming with Oliver Sacks. (Courtesy of Dave Lull.)

The power is in the story... 

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free.

Sung often, seldom do we pause to consider its meaning.
The paradox is that what is most important to us we tend to take for granted, including the political, economic and religious freedoms given us as Australians. Streets of MatraVille: Pozieres anf Fromelles in Australia They will be Proud of this ...
Flaubert called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear. When I walk down the street and catch words, phrases, and exclamations, I always think – how many novels disappear without a trace! Disappear into darkness. We haven't been able to capture the conversational side of human life for literature. We don't appreciate it, we aren't surprised or delighted by it. But it fascinates me, and has made me its captive. I love how humans talk ... I love the lone human voice. It is my greatest love and passion. 

An interview with Tom Stoppard

“With an odd, unjust circularity, being a published writer was the very thing that enabled me to continue to be one.”  LitHub 
Publishing history is full of strange tales, and that recounted by Lucy Sussex in “Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & the Mystery of a Hansom Cab” is certainly among the strangest and most poignant. In late 1880s Australia a would-be dramatist decided that he might gain more attention from theater impresarios if he were a published author. So Fergus Hume sat down to produce what ultimately became the best-selling crime novel of the 19th century. ‘Blockbuster!’: The strange tale of the best-selling crime novel of the 19th century

Art asks for an emotional investment, with the promise of some insight into the human experience. But what if the artist is an algorithm? 

I think literature exists to bridge the gap between how things are supposed to work, and that feeling we all have that they're not fucking working that way at all. In life, a lot of our time—especially a lot of our unconscious time—is spent glossing over and making up for some serious fucking gaps between what we have been told should happen and what actually does happen. That and the gap between what people think they are like and what they are actually like is the stuff of life. Books are specifically about filling and explaining these gaps.

...As soon as you get a few pages in, the thing inside of you that needs to be said will start coming to the surface. The characters that appear, the situations that happen, the dynamics that are created, will already be there, whether you've realized it or not. I get this feeling that our own stories aren't always tellable, but they catch a ride, they hitchhike. If we have something to say, it will come out.
DBC Pierre: Man Booker Winner writes a book on How to Write a Novel...

Nonfiction for Fiction Writers

I'm just back from Readercon 27, the annual convention that I've been to more 
than any other, and for which (a while back) I served on the program committee 
for a few years. At this point, Readercon feels like a family reunion for me, and it's a delight.
(CC) Jurek D. via Flickr Once a year, NAS gathers 24 creative changemakers from all over the
nation for a week-long residential program called Creative Community House. We spend this week living and learning alongside ... read more AJBlog: Field Notes

Forbes magazine has published their list of top earning celebrities for 2016. Novelist James Patterson is in the number three spot, outearning Adele, Dr. Phil and even the material girl. Forbes says Patterson made $95 million last year, making him…Continue Reading 
Jozo Imrich Starsi

Survival is in everything we do. We are hunter-gatherers, whether in the literal sense or the modern, figurative equivalent. No matter how far we evolve from our spear-carrying, mammoth-hunting ancestors, the innate instinct is still there. But most of us have forgotten the basics. Ask your average person on the street how to start a fire without matches or a lighter, or how to set a rabbit snare, and you’ll get a blank look followed by, "I’m a vegetarian. You should be ashamed!" And yet the survivor narrative, whether in books, TV shows, or movies, is consistently popular. This tells me a lot of people wish they could peel away the trappings of modern life and live simpler, in a way more connected to nature... Read More
“You can’t just exist as a bookshop nowadays; you have to make it a place where people want to hang out.”
The Observer (UK)

Forbes magazine has published their list of top earning celebrities for 2016. Novelist James Patterson is in the number three spot, outearning Imrich, Adele, Dr. Phil and even the material girl. Forbes says Patterson made $95 million last year, making him…Continue Reading 

INK BOTTLE“We turn to literature not only for respite, relaxation or escape from the boredom of reality and the gnaw of suffering, but to get away from uncertainty. And certainty is in the past. There, so it seems to us, things have been settled. There we can see a whole picture. For to see something whole becomes a necessity to people like ourselves whose world has fallen to pieces. Perhaps, we think, the certainty of the past will help our minds to substantiate a faith in the kind of certainty we hope for in the future.”

V.S. Pritchett, My Good Books (courtesy of Patrick Kurp)

Adults have become shorter in many countries (NYT), and which nations have the tallest men and women?  Here is the paper

Sally Beauman “said she turned to fiction to spend more time with her son. Writing romances for Harlequin, she said, was a useful way to learn pacing, dialogue and how to make the plot move.”

The New York Times
Vlado Imrich
“With the rollout of the new work, publishers, retailers and fans are preparing for an explosion of all things Harry Potter reminiscent of the series’ heyday more than decade ago.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Not until bones have found a last resting place will shades be let across these gurgling currents, their doom instead to wander and haunt about the banks for a hundred years.” 
~Bathroom quote

“In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent.”
The Atlantic

“In Rome, around the year 400, a scribe and three painters created an illuminated manuscript of Virgil’s Aeneid, illustrating the the ancient hero Aeneas’ journey from Troy to Italy. 1,600 years later, the Vatican has digitized the surviving fragments of this manuscript. Known as the Vergilius Vaticanus, it’s one of the world’s oldest versions of the Latin epic poem, and you can browse it for free online.” Hyperallergic

Brushing up on the plain English essentials

“What suspicion as an interpretive approach implies is that literary texts are always hiding something. The meaning of a work is buried, a brilliant jewel whose rays can only be glimpsed once the layers of obfuscating sediment have been flensed from the text. So, like a patient in analysis, whatever it seems on the surface to say, it must really mean something else. Under this cool, post-Freudian gaze the motives of authors, narrators and readers themselves are revealed as equally obscure and unreliable.” ArtsATL

This week: A penetrating portrait of artist Chuck Close, a reality check on meritocracy as a concept, a look at anger and our access to visceral emotion in a media-saturated world, the enduring meritocracy ... read more AJBlog: diacritical/Douglas McLennan Published 2

The exodus, and the troubles, continue at 1000 Fifth Avenue: announcement of the departure of Carrie Rebora Barratt (below), a deputy director of the Metropolitan Museum and longtime close associate of director Tom Campbell, is imminent, ... read more
AJBlog: Real Clear Arts

How do you know if you’re lesbian? 

Following up on my previous post, Elsevier Acquires SSRN:  Authors Alliance, Is It Time for Authors to Leave SSRN?:
As feared, it now appears that SSRN is taking up restrictive and hostile positions against authors’ ability to decide when and how to share their work. Reports are surfacing that, without notice, SSRN is removing author-posted documents following SSRN’s own, opaque determination that the author must have transferred copyright, the publisher had not consented to the posting, or where the author has opted to use a non-commercial Creative Commons license. One author, Andrew Selbst, reported that SSRN refused his post even though the article’s credits reflected his retained copyright.