Some will find Publishers Weekly’s list of top selling books in 2009 endlessly fascinating. The name I was most surprised to see on the list? R. Crumb, whose The Book of Genesis Illustrated apparently sold 119,914 copies last year. (via)
Mark Seal explores the ongoing legal battle between Harper Lee and Samuel L. Pinkus, the latter of whom is said to have “’engaged in a scheme to dupe Harper Lee, then 80-years-old with declining hearing and eye sight, into assigning her valuable TKAM [To Kill a Mockingbird] copyright to [Pinkus’s company] for no consideration,’ and then created shell companies and bank accounts to which the book’s royalties were funneled.”
“The media of my childhood, mostly weekly television shows and overused VHS tapes, was like a good pet. Sure, it was a little costly to keep around, but it was lovable, and I could always shut it out in the yard for a while. Now, though, media is always with me, always trying to snag my attention and siphon away as much as possible to sell to advertisers. It feels like it’s evolved from a cute little pet into a frighteningly efficient parasite.”
In a piece for Aeon, D. Watkins – who previously blew onto the scene with his Salon essay, “Too Poor for Pop Culture” – looks into “the two Baltimores” he has known. Tracing the city’s history back to the Civil War, he defines the city as “a place split on ideologies because it’s too south to be north and too north to be south.”
What happened to the literature of clothing? Writers like Balzac and Proust wrote philosophies of clothing, but nowadays there seems to be a wall between literary writing and fashion. In Public Books, Mary Davis reads Women in Clothes, a collection which reveals a lot about how much our views of fashion writing have changed. FYI, Rachel Signer reviewed the book for The Millions.
“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.
If you see something, read something: Yesterday New York City’s MTA launched Subway Reads, an eight-week-long initiative allowing strap-hangers to download novellas, short stories, or excerpts from books via the city’s new(ish) wi-fi service in 175 underground stations. They’ve even timed the length of Which news in turn begs the question: what would Borges say?