Curiosities

Curiosities

| 2
io9 offers up "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life," from Frankenstein to Pattern Recognition. (via)Cathleen Schine on the charms of Peter CareyThe "Thomas Bernhard cult" claims a new initiate.F.O.T.M. (Friend of The Millions) Lydia Millet talks about "endangered species, the idea of motherhood, and her stint at Hustler.""Why do scribblers make drinking their second art? For one thing, it primes them for their task." Writers and booze.Some American Studies undergrads at The University of Virginia have put together an online exhibit titled "The New Yorker Magazine in the 1930s."NPR's "In Character" segment considers Hawthorne's Hester Prynne.
Curiosities

Curiosities

| 1
Friend of The Millions, proprietor of Pinky's Paperhaus, and all around great gal Carolyn Kellogg has landed at the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy. We have little doubt that she'll do great things there.Following Heath Ledger's untimely death, BBC looks at the myriad ways in which Hollywood has dealt with losing an actor mid-production, dating back to 1937 "when Jean Harlow died, aged 26, during the making of Saratoga. With filming 90% complete, a lookalike and two Harlow sound-a-likes (voice doubles) took up where the star left off."Bookride is back with an intriguing look at the collectors' market for Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. Don't miss this tidbit: "By the way sending books to authors for signing is something of a gamble - Thomas Hardy used to keep all the books sent to him neatly shelved in a spare room."Speaking of Garcia Marquez, Edith Grossman, the translator who has shaped the Latin American canon for English speakers over the last few decades, is profiled in bookforum.The New Republic offers the story behind the controversial New York Times John McCain/lobbyist story.The Morning News returns with its third annual Tournament of Books. Sadly, there will be no Bloggers' Pool this year (despite our being eager to participate again), but Coudal Partners is sponsoring a betting pool for charity this year. As of this writing, On Chesil Beach and Run have had the most money thrown their way.A cartoon drawn on the pages of Moby DickAnd finally, McSweeney's offers up some sweet Ashton Kutcher fan fiction.
Curiosities

Short Story Week Links

Did you read a short story today? He did.Samantha Hunt scribbles on bar napkins.Deborah Eisenberg not only writes great stories; she also gives a great interview.A Peter Markus story - free! - at failbetter.com.A Ben Fountain story - free! - at The Barcelona Review.Bookslut chats up Elizabeth Crane.Death is dead (via Conversational Reading).
Curiosities

Curios

| 3
NPR offers a nifty gallery that accompanies the publication of this quirky collection: Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.The Coen Brothers have signed on to helm the film version of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. The big-screen version of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found (though it's reportedly been in the works for years).Elsewhere in book-to-movie news, Ian McEwen is pleased with the film version of his novel Atonement.Poet and critic Reginald Shepherd reflects on becoming a blogger. "Until a couple of years ago, I barely knew what a blog was, and certainly had never seen one," he writes. But it proved quite fruitful: "it sometimes seems that my blog has done more to raise my profile than all my more-than-fifteen years of copious publishing put together."Five reasons not to give up books (the paper ones, as opposed the digital counterparts.)I think it's an ad for a video game, but this video contains some masterful soccer kung fu.None of us at The Millions is affiliated with Princeton, but this list of the school's most influential alums is interesting in a random sort of way.The new half-hour HBO show In Treatment is a free podcast at the iTunes store. The show stars Gabriel Byrne as a psychotherapist and each episode represents a single session with one of five patients.The writers' strike is over. The resulting carnage on the schedules for all your favorite shows is laid out here.
Curiosities

Curios

Gerrard Winstanley's 1649 "The True Levellers Standard Advanced." The True Levellers were a radical Protestant sect that founded a commune in Surrey during the English Civil War. In this rather astonishing and neglected declaration, Winstanley argues that God intended the earth to be a common treasury for all and that disparities in property and power between the rich and the poor are unholy and need to be abolished. (Billy Bragg has a song on Back to Basics called "The World Turned Upside Down" that's based on the Diggers' Song, also written by Winstanley.)Bookride documents the surprising desirability of W.G. Sebald books among collectors. "At one point his books were making exceptional sums on Ebay and people wanted ephemera, posters, recordings and anything to do with his legendary walk from Lowestoft to Boulge." The Rings of Saturn is coveted in particular. Only a few hundred copies of the English first edition were printed and they mostly turn up in East Anglia.Many a freelance journalist has pondered the idea of an online marketplace for writing in recent years, one that might ease the inefficiencies and frustration of pitching articles. Attempting to fill that gap is Reporterist, a journalism marketplace. One of the founders offers up details of the project in an interview with the Online Journalism Review.
Curiosities

Link Bomb

| 1
The "Bloggies" are back. Looking at this year's nominees, our thoughts from last year still hold true.We try not to rag on the NBCC too much around here, but inadvertently giving your big book recommending initiative the same name as a wildly popular reading-focused social network just smacks of cluelessness.People are still ripping on litblogs. This time, it's Bud eloquently defending our honor.The New Yorker has presented its portfolio of winners in its contest to "redefine Eustace Tilley," the magazine's dapper icon.Free, downloadable mini-books from Chicago's Featherproof BooksDoes Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point hold up in the real world? Not exactly.FSG's Lorin Stein reviews Norman Rush's Mortals: "the most brilliant book of the new century [maybe]."Granta's 100th issue (congrats!) is here. William Boyd's introduction offers up some history on the magazine.Just in time for "Super Tuesday," Michael Chabon throws his hat in the ring for ObamaAttention "Oregon Trail" fans, outdoor equipment company Thule offers a goofy remake of the game. Ah, advertainment. (via)Finally, an important question, answered.
Curiosities

Link Bomb

| 1
The Columbia Spectator is about to embark on "a list of 50 books that we think capture the essence of each state."Daniel Menaker, former head of Random House, is set to host a new internet literary talk show called "Titlepage." It will be modeled after "'Apostrophes,' a popular French literary program; 'The Charlie Rose Show' on public television; and 'Dinner for Five,' in which a group of actors discussed their craft, on the Independent Film Channel." Guests on the first show include Richard Price and literary it-boy Charles Bock.Quite a resource: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Among the many entries: Death, God and Other Necessary Beings, Nothingness.We Feel Fine: Art from the hive mind.Landscape Urbanism Bullshit GeneratorFree Rice: procrastination fun for those with big vocabularies.The Corporation of London Libraries and Guildhall Art Gallery image database - huge, searchable collection of historical images of London, from which one can order prints.The Port Huron Statement, a part of the UVA Sixties ProjectTen Recurring Economic Fallacies - Put to rest "The Broken Window," "The Beneficence of War," and more.
Curiosities

Some (Possibly Stale) Links

William T. Vollmann has a new book out, Riding Toward Everywhere about riding freight trains. In what must be a first for Vollmann, the Washington Post describes the book as a "modest little volume."The New Yorker held a contest to reinterpret Eustace Tilley, its "iconic dandy." The entries are posted on Flickr.The anxiety brought on by selling books to the used bookstore.The Atlantic website goes free. Everything back to 1995 is available.n+1 interviews a hedge fund manager. It's surprisingly fascinating (if you skim the technical stuff).Also in the world of big money, a record was broken on Monday. As global markets plummeted, French bank Societe Generale was selling frantically. The bank had just discovered that an employee had fraudulently lost $7.2 billion, believed to be the most ever by a "rogue trader."
Curiosities

Wednesday Links

| 1
We've heard about the weak dollar making things tough on Canadian readers, but the pain is being felt by Canadian publishers as well, as profit margins diminish. The latest casualty is publisher Raincoast Books.Philip Agee died today. His Inside the Company in 1973 may have created a modern day genre, one that would be contributed to by many former agents, the CIA tell-all.The Atlantic reaches deep into the archives to bring us "The History of Children's Books," from 1888:It is hard to imagine a world without books for children. There have been children's stories and folk-tales ever since man first learned to speak. "Many of them," in Thackeray's words, "have been narrated, almost in their present shape, for thousands of years since, to little copper-colored Sanscrit children. The very same tale has been heard by the Northmen Vikings, as they lay on their shields on deck; and by the Arabs, couched under the stars in the Syrian plains, when the flocks were gathered in, and the mares were picketed by the tents." Children's books, however, are a late growth of literature. Miss Yonge says, "Up to the Georgian era there were no books at all for children or the poor, excepting the class-books containing old ballads, such as Chevy Chase, and short tales, such as The King and the Cobbler, Whittington and his Cat." We shall nevertheless see that there were English books for children (and it is with no others that we have to deal) long before this time.
Curiosities

Staff Picks: Harvey, Jergovic, Endo, Helprin, Walton, Greene

The "staff picks" shelf in any good independent bookstore is a treasure trove of book recommendations. Unmoored from media hype and even timeliness, books are championed by trusted fellow readers. With many bookselling alums in our ranks, we thought it a good idea to offer our own "Staff Picks" in a feature appearing irregularly. We hope you discover something you like.+ Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey recommended by AndrewA tough, spare, bruising novel from Newfoundland author Kenneth J. Harvey, Inside depicts the experience of a man released from years in prison, cleared on DNA evidence. Not guilty but far from innocent, our man attempts to reconnect with his family and reclaim his life. The novel's edgy, fragmented prose is sometimes tough reading, but I read it a year-and-a-half ago when it first came out here in Canada, and its images and tone still haunt me.+ Sarajevo Marlboro by Milijenko Jergovic recommended by GarthAmong the splendors of the short-story is that it needn't teach us anything. Also among its splendors: that it often does, anyway. With this collection, journalist Jergovic uses a deceptively casual style to tally the cost of war. Stories like "Beetle" and "The Excursion" bring to life the human beings caught in Sarajevo during the war, moving us without ever hectoring. They are exemplars of the William Carlos Williams dictum: "No ideas but in things."+ Silence by Shusaku Endo recommended by BenIt's strange to me that Shusaku Endo's fine novel Silence has yet to be canonized as a masterpiece of world literature. Although I'm not generally a booster of Japanese writers, this story of faith and suffering is one of the best novels I've read.Endo was a Japanese Catholic, and many of his works explore the conflicts between his faith and his culture. Silence takes place in the 17th century and follows two Portuguese priests as they try to introduce Christianity to Japan. The Japanese government resists their efforts, and the two are forced to go underground, running from a public official who tracks them relentlessly. As their flock is captured one by one, the priests are forced to a final showdown, where their faith is put to the test. Equal parts heart-wrenching and thought provoking, this beautifully written and moving book grapples with the meaning of faith in a world where prayers are met only with silence.+ Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin recommended by EmreForget about global warming for a second and pick up Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale - a perfect companion to the season that will immerse you in a world steeped in fantasy. Peter Lake's journey from the end of the Gilded Age to a futuristic 1990s world doesn't cover much ground; most of it is in New York. But, the creation of the City as a central character, the use of Winter to tickle warmth, and the struggle between the ideal-imagined and real-lived will take you on a ride that illuminates beauty in the ordinary via the fantastic.+ The Compleat Angler: or, The Contemplative Man's Recreation by Izaak Walton recommended by EmilyAlthough I am not "a brother of the angle," I count Izaak Walton's 1653 Compleat Angler among my favorite books. And it would seem that I am not alone: Walton's book has been in print continuously for the past 355 years and by some counts it is the most reprinted work in English after the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress. To describe this delightful book, however, is no easy task. "The waters are nature's storehouse in which she locks up her wonders," Walton writes, and his book sets out to be the meandering catalogue of these and much else. Like so many other books of its age, Walton's Angler is hard to classify. It is part fishing manual, part meditation on the joys of rural life, contemplation, and patience, part compendium of whimsical fishing and river lore (an account of the Sargus, a fish who crawls onto land to impregnate sheep, stories of mythical rivers that dance to music, light torches, or cease to flow on the Sabbath), part miscellany of pastoral verse, and part cookbook, all united by the deeply humane and amiable voice of the narrator, Piscator. Recommended for: All restive souls, especially city folk afflicted with pangs of bucolic longing.+ The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene recommended by MaxThis Graham Greene classic takes on crises of faith as a "whiskey priest" in Mexico is pursued by a stern lieutenant and the specter of a firing squad and must contemplate his own shortcomings, his worthiness, and his ordained duty to his flock. Heavy stuff, but as winter takes hold in northern climes, readers will appreciate Greene's backdrop of the humid closeness of the Mexican jungle - you may feel some perspiration on your brow - not to mention a cast of characters who serve only to heighten the priest's moral ambiguity. Whether read as a layered allegory of faith or a tense romp through the tropics, The Power and the Glory deserves its place among Greene's best works.