In The Atlantic, Johnathan A. Knee writes about how curation and aggregation can be more profitable than content creation. That is the idea behind BookLamp, a new search engine based on books’ content and writing style, not sales data. “At times, being able to ignore the marketing data can be good for the recommendation,” explains CEO Aaron Stanton.
“In his column, Manjoo goes on to call out virtual reality for being ‘a lonely, anti-social affair’—but, hey, isn’t that what reading a novel used to be? I mean, before we figured out how to make books ping and arouse competitive instincts by flagging favorite passages of readers who got there before we did. (I don’t mean to harp on Farhad Manjoo or to denigrate his excellent work; his reticence is shared by others in both legacy and new media cautioning against VR.)” It looks like VR is in desperate need of good storytellers.
John Domini reviews Joseph McElroy’s Cannonball in the pages of Bookforum. In our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview, our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote that, “this, his first novel in many a moon, concerns the Iraq War, among other things, and it’s hard to think of an author more suited to reimagining the subject.”
“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso on envy and the purpose of writing. Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness.
Is envy really the worst form of pettiness, as Kierkegaard suggested? Maybe. The great Roman philosopher Cicero had his own, fairly radical thoughts on envy — namely, that “compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity is also uneasy at another’s prosperity.”
At Bloom this week, check out the multi–part feature on Spencer Reece‘s poetry project at an orphanage in Honduras, which includes a documentary film for which singer-songwriter Dar Williams is composing/performing the soundtrack. Watch an exclusive two-part video interview with Reece and Williams about their friendship and collaboration.