In 1946, George Orwell wrote that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Since we just can’t seem to get enough of the Shakespeare infographics, here’s another from Electric Literature. This time, it’s the characters and their web of interactions that gets the colorful, 21st century treatment. Last time, it was deaths. Forsooth, at least you probably won’t have to wait long for another one.
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”
A group at NYU’s journalism school has named “The Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade in the United States.” Four of these are books: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family, Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed.
Book Snobbishness: “Using your personal taste or literary standards to dictate to other people what they should spend their time or money on. It’s not just about looking down on someone for reading romance or science fiction (though that’s part of it, of course), but also about shaming readers for where they spend money or the format in which they read.” Amanda Nelson, managing editor of Book Riot, sits down with 0s&1s to talk about gender, books and blogging. To get your fill of literary blogging, check out our list of must-read literary Tumblrs.