A few days ago, Amazon announced the launch of their new “@Author” feature for the Kindle, whereby readers can click on an e-book passage and ask the author questions about it directly. I’ve broken out in a cold poststructuralist sweat about this over on The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog.
The Toronto Public Library is running an innovative program wherein, in addition to books and other types of media you might expect, you can also check out people; specifically, this Human Library gives you access to folks with an interesting job or story to tell, like a journalist, a Buddhist monk and a cancer survivor.
“To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do … Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted.” On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary’s boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
Now is as good a time as there ever will be to go and check out the Art Institute of Chicago. A new exhibit, “Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem,” combines the photography of Parks, who eventually went on to gain a measure of fame in the ’70s as a Hollywood movie director, and the writing of Ralph Ellison, in an attempt to offer a portrait of Harlem in the post-World War II years.