One thing that I don’t recall hearing in the whole dust-up around Kristof’s column is that most academics doing things in the public sphere are doing it on their own inclination, and generally against their own self-interest as academics. True, attitudes have become more enlightened in recent years as the Internet has become more of a mainstream thing, but you’re still going to be doing this stuff basically as an unpaid gig on your free time. And unless you can swing it and make it work for you, you’re probably better off not in academia, unless it’s academics . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Guy Davenport on Kafka. And also.
He says that he is a hunter turned into a butterfly. There is a gate (presumably heaven) toward which he flutters, but when he gets near he wakes to find himself back on his bier in the cabin of his ship… The butterfly is one of the most dramatic of metamorphic creatures, its transformations seemingly more divergent than any other. A caterpillar does not die; it becomes a wholly different being.
Probably true that books that divide the judges tend not to win prizes (which is why most prizes tend toward compromise and only occasionally award strangeness and brilliance), but Amis’s definition of “serious stuff” is pretty far off, in my opinion.
Laughter comes easily to Amis, and he’s a passionate envoy for the comic novel. Yet he believes his books never win prizes such as the Booker because they divide judges; ”They tend to feel more relaxed with earnest stuff.”
However, he insists, ”the history of the novel is all comic … Nabokov said no one who . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The novel was terrible, which means the movie will be great.
Berlin — Mike Tyson is in talks to star as the ax murderer in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of DBC Pierre’s Booker prize-winning coming-of-age novel Vernon God Little.
Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton sounds fascinating, insofar as I think I understand Stephen Muecke’s review of it.
The pressing reality of hyperobjects now has the effect of destroying this critical distance, of making it impossible to separate causality from art (as if art were mere decoration on top of the “real workings”), and of forcing us to abandon the modern habit of redemptively imaging a better future, for now we have to hesitate in front of what hyperobjects are placing right in front of us: that we are not in charge of the future anymore, because . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m a pretty skeptical dude, but seems like this has the potential to actually make a big difference. And you really have to hand it to Patterson for putting his money where his mouth is. Good for him.
The best-selling author James Patterson has started a program to give away $1 million of his personal fortune to dozens of bookstores, allowing them to invest in improvements, dole out bonuses to employees and expand literacy outreach programs.
More than 50 stores across the country will begin receiving cash grants this week, from Percy’s Burrow in Topsham, Me., to . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The whole thing is now online. I get what Dyer is saying here, but I don’t quite agree. As someone who’s read his fiction and his nonfiction, I feel like there’s a pretty clear difference between the two, and I like the latter much more than the former.
On what grounds?
It’s titled “The Art of Nonfiction.” Now I could whine, “What about the fiction?” but that would be to accept a distinction that’s not sustainable. Fiction, nonfiction—the two are bleeding into each other all the time.
You don’t distinguish between them at all?
. . . continue reading, and add your comments
Write-up in The Guardian, full thing hitting the Web soon.
As it was the WG Sebald lecture, Margaret Atwood told her audience at the British Library, she was entitled to make it as freeform as Sebald’s writing, full of “peripatetic” wanderings, mixing up memoir with other genres, and just plain “odd”.
Though this was a warning not to expect a linear argument, let alone a theory of translation, her beguiling autobiographical digressions in Atwood in Translationland were not there just for fun. They illustrated that “we spend much of our childhood translating”; that it’s a universal activity, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Missed this when it first came out. A good complement to George Packer’s recent Amazon piece.
Stone has covered Amazon almost since its creation, first for Newsweek, now for Bloomberg Businessweek. He admires it because it’s good at giving us what we want, which is why he thinks we should fear it; and he thinks it will ‘expand until either Jeff Bezos exits the scene or no one is left to stand in his way’. In the few months since Stone’s book went to press, Amazon has bought eight million square feet of warehouse space and taken . . . continue reading, and add your comments
For years now (or more likely, forever), I’ve not understood what is meant by the “Great American Novel,” nor why people seem to fetishize it so much. It just seemed like an extremely silly way to think about a work of literature.
But now that I’ve worked with translation for some time and have gotten a better sense of other national literatures, I think I may see some meaning to the concept, however trivial and inconsequential for a nation like the United States. There are places out there that are both small enough and have young enough . . . continue reading, and add your comments