Super-cool baseball infographics site Flip Flop Fly Ball is set to become what will no doubt be a stunning book put out by Bloomsbury and arriving in Spring 2011.
Harper Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, which was popular with schools. Over at The New Republic, Alex Shephard writes that “Without a mass-market option, schools will likely be forced to pay higher prices for bulk orders of the trade paperback edition—and given the perilous state of many school budgets, that could very easily lead to it being assigned in fewer schools.” For more about the author’s legacy, read Robert Rea’s Millions essay on his travels to her home.
On Thursday, the fiction writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which marks the first time a Chinese writer has won the prestigious award. Lauded for his command of “hallucinatory realism,” Yan (whose pen name translates to “not talking” in Mandarin) has drawn comparisons to Faulkner for the complexity of his fictional settings. Back in 2005, John Updike published his thoughts on the writer.
At Flavorwire Jonathan Sturgeon considers what we’ve learned from Dubliners in the hundred years since it was first published and argues that “when it comes to realism, Dubliners, more than even Chekhov’s short fiction, is the model we routinely fail to live up to.” Sturgeon’s reflections on Joyce‘s free indirect discourse pair well with Jonathan Russell Clark‘s Millions essay on close writing, and his essay isn’t completely without hope: he concludes with a few books that, “on the surface, look nothing like Dubliners, but, in spirit… show that Joyce’s book still lives 100 years on.”
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.
Recommended Reading: This piece on a digital afterlife — duplicating oneself via computer program — which is by turns troubling and oddly reassuring: “The human brain has about a hundred billion neurons. The connectional complexity is staggering. By some estimates, the human brain compares to the entire content of the internet. It’s only a matter of time, however, and not very much at that, before computer scientists can simulate a hundred billion neurons.”