Friday, January 13, 2017

Stealing Cold Rivers


THE WORLD’S COLDEST CAPITALS: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the world leader in cold capital cities. It’s average annual temperature is -2.4 degrees Celsius. The link goes to that old Cold Warrior, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. RFE/RL credits the Norwegian Meteorological Institute

  At CBC Ali Chiasson reports that There's a black market for stolen books in Toronto, apparently, as: 'Hundreds of the Japanese author's works have been stolen and resold throughout the city' 
       Understandably, the most-stolen title changes with time:
"It used to be all the beats," said McCormack, of Type Books on Queen Street West. "Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Then it became [Vladimir] Nabokov by far -- you couldn't keep Lolita on the shelf."
       I'm not sure that giving a precise description of the (apparent top) thief's modus operandi is necessarily a good idea in an article like this ..... 

       At Publishing Perspectives Adam Critchley profiles the (in)famous 'literary' agent, in Andrew Wylie's Global Approach to Agenting. 
       Some of this sounds admirable -- such as:
Many agencies only think about money. But we only look at the quality of the writing. We train people in the agency to forget about money. It's not of interest whether we think a book will sell thousands of copies. Pay attention to the quality of the work. If the writing is unusual, appealing, and drives you a little crazy, then that's someone that we want to represent.  
       (There's no doubt that the Wylie Agency client list is first-rate (jaw-droppingly so, in fact) -- but let's be serious, 'quality of the work' is not their sole selection-criterion. How else to explain King Abdullah II, Al Gore, the Gates Foundation, and ... the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. ?) 
       While Wylie admirably seems to take the long perspective with many of his authors, I don't know that his ... patience in holding out for the best deal really serves readers (or even many of the authors/estates) well: there are quite a few on that client list whose works are not nearly as readily available as I would like. 


At his Stevereads weblog heavy reader Steve Donoghue has lots of year-end best lists -- and, admirably, some worst-of, too -- and among the early ones he's posted is his Best Books of 2016: Translations !        A nice mix -- including several I still have to get to.        So far, four of the titles are under review at the complete review:

       The Life of an Unknown Man-author Andreï Makine has claimed his seat -- fauteuil 5, last held by Assia Djebar -- in the Académie française -- and, as some of the reports have it,Russian author slams France while receiving its highest literary honour. (Apparently they only consider him French (enough) when he says nicer things about his adopted homeland -- and language .....) 
       The article is really only worth checking out for the picture of him wearing the ridiculous club jacket -- and fortunately you can actually read his entire discours -- sort of his acceptance-lecture -- at the official site. Dominique Fernandez's réponse, too. 
       The Goethe-Wörterbuch -- 'Goethe dictionary' (though surely, in fact, what would be called a 'concordance') -- is an awesome project, given that: "Goethe commanded the biggest ever documented individual lexicon of 93,000 words", and at DeutscheWelle Gero Schliess writes about this undertaking, inGod, Goethe and the mammoth task of compiling his vocabulary. 
       They're even almost done, apparently ..... Well, everything being relative .....:
It took more than 20 years just to list and evaluate these 93,000 words. But now, an end is in sight. In terms of lexical evaluation, the present team consisting of 17 academics has reached the letters S and T. It is hoped that the project will be completed in 2025. Originally, the researchers had the year 2040 in mind.
       Great to see it available online, too -- even if, at this time, only through the letter 'M'. 
   In The Observer they have a fairly extensive selection ofHidden gems of 2016: the best books you may have missed -- always an interesting exercise

        Links to books by complete review saloon ... 2017-preview pieces
The Millions' annual feature is certainly among the biggest out there, and worth a separate entry. 
       Their The Great First-Half 2017 Book Preview is now up, covering "80-something upcoming books". Very much big-house, big-title oriented -- i.e. missing a lot of the really good stuff -- it does point you to the titles that you'll be seeing and hearing the most of in the coming months -- and there certainly are quite a few titles of interest here.