Why did Richard Brautigan’s friends eventually stop inviting him to parties? Was it because he got drunk? Was it because he brought too many friends? Or was it because, as Michael LaPointe suggests in his review of Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan, he liked to pack a revolver?
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
Finland will pay tribute to author and artist Tove Jansson by adding her likeness to a new two-Euro commemorative coin. This isn’t the first time a country’s wanted to add an author to their currency. (Related: Alex Ohlin looks at the “sad, strange brilliance” of Moomin; and Jansson’s works are recommended by Emily St. John Mandel and Rachel Meier.)
There’s a pedestrian bridge spanning Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis that features a John Ashbery poem written on its steel beams. This is a fabulous slideshow of photos showing the poem. Via been thinking.
“Andre Dubus’s literary superpower is to hit upon that one thing about a character that makes him him, or her her. And in so doing, with subtle, clever details—breadcrumbs on the trail to the nucleus of a character—he makes a reader want to keep going, because she knows exactly who these people are and has to know what happens to them.” On the Selected Stories of Andre Dubus.