Amazon has refreshed its line of Kindles once again. The price point on a basic version that utilizes Wi-Fi has dropped way down to $139. Opt for the 3G version and the price is $189. The device now boasts better contrast, less glare in sunlight, and it now comes in a new color: “graphite.”
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction's Why Fiction Matters series. "The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed." Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Gossip is often seen as inherently frivolous and trashy, which is why it’s odd that a poet would use it as the subject of his or her work. On The Poetry Foundation’s blog, Austin Allen writes about George Green’s collection Lord Byron’s Foot, in which, as Allen puts it, “the dish spares no one.” (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
David Carr takes a look at The Atavist, whose team of multimedia gurus has won the attention (and seed funding) of Google founder Eric Schmidt. Of course, the outfit’s also been receiving generous attention for their quality work, too. (I mentioned them a few months ago.) More recently, however, certain scientific circles have fawned over the subject of their story The Electric Mind, which tracks one paralyzed woman and the scientists who developed the BrainGate technology which eventually got her moving... robotically.