The Smithsonian now has a flickr photostream.


* Matt Cheney releases the TOC for Best American Fantasy 28

* Blackwells in the UK is testing out the so-called book ATM in one of its stores. At 40 pages per minute, you could POD a copy of Vollmann in under half an hour.

* The Wall Street Journal shows how Amazon shows its clout, turning a summer book into a bestseller:

Driving that unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong
reviews and promotional support from The Web retailer chose
the book as one of the best books of June and aggressively hyped it,
including by posting a long and enthusiastic blurb from best-selling
author Stephen King. The same blurb was printed inside "early reader"
copies sent to reviewers, bloggers and booksellers.

Amazon also kept "Edgar Sawtelle" on its home page for
two weeks at a 40% discount before the book hit stores, and posted an
essay written by the author at Amazon’s request.

* 100 best reads of the last 25 years

* The Literary Saloon points me to this profile of an author many consider "the most important Romanian writer of the last two decades"


* Steve Mitchelmore has a great review of Senselessness. In addition to teasing out more of the Bernhardian influence, he gives a delightfully balanced look at the book that, thought positive, doesn’t shrink from honest critique.

* Matthew Cheney offers an overwhelmingly positive review of Stoner by John Williams, a book I keep hearing very good things about

* In Rain Taxi, a review of a sort of librarian-superhero comic, Rex Libris:

We have few badass librarian stories. Joss Whedon gave us Rupert Giles, who can swing a sword as well as shelve a tome. Kelly Link introduced us to Fox, the gorgeous and similarly sword-wielding librarian in the story "Magic for Beginners." The husband of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time-Traveller’s Wife takes care of Special Collections as his dayjob. The orangutan librarian of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is not to be messed with. Infinite librarians inhabit Jorge Luis Borges’s very small story, "The Library of Babel."

This is a fine company of heroes, but, given what we owe librarians, it is still an insufficient tribute. Librarians were among the first to stand up to the Patriot Act. They safeguard the sum of our knowledge and keep it findable. They let us read books for free. They spend their days battling forces of darkness and ignorance, and now they have Rex Libris to demonstrate this to the world.

James Turner’s square-headed, noir-ish, immortal survivor of Alexandria’s famed library is a marvelous creation.


* In The Guardian Colm Toibin on The Golden Bowl

* TNR offers an essay/review of the new work of criticism from the increasingly omnipresent Adam Thirwell


Author and Believer-editor Ed Park discusses his new book, Personal Days, as part of the Authors@Google series.

The Rest

* Boxing’s highbrow appeal

* Chad Post runs down contemporary Japanese lit

* Chas Newkey-Burden hates second-hand books because previous owners tear out chapters and leave their snot in them. I find this a little dramatic. As someone who regularly picks up books off the street (and also buys plenty second-hand), I don’t think it’s too hard to flip through to see if a book has been defaced, and have yet to find any bodily waste lying in wait for me.

* Tolstoy’s translator is too sensitive?

* Books for which burning is too gentle a response

* Someone thinks he’s figured out who Godot was. But this person also interprets The Crying of Lot 49 as about the JFK assassination. So . . .

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Scott, seriously, drop everything and read Williams’ “Stoner” and then “Butcher’s Crossing”–they were the two best books I read last year–his other two novels are okay, but “Stoner” and “Butcher’s Crossing” are just towering, colossal masterworks.

FWIW, Scott McLemee just writes that the idea that Godot is literally a Resistance smuggler is in the reductionist category as the idea that Crying of Lot 49 is literally about the Kennedy assassination, NOT that there’s one critic who has posited both ideas.

The Latin American Mixtape

5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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