Can kids’ books on a tablet beat the real thing? A father of two takes a reading test.
Kirkus Reviews is launching a new literary prize this year with a hefty purse and an even more eye-catching process. Instead of relying on publishers or judges for a longlist, they'll automatically nominate any book that wins a Kirkus Star—about 10 percent of those reviewed—and award three annual prizes of $50,000 to the best fiction, nonfiction, and young readers' literature. But the big news is that self-published books will also be eligible.
This month, Boost House is publishing what the New Yorker describes as “the first English-language paperbound anthology of Alt Lit and its siblings weird Twitter … and Flarf.” The collection – The YOLO Pages – features work by Steve Roggenbuck, Tao Lin, Patricia Lockwood, and (of course) @Horse_ebooks among others. But far from being a compendium of “vomit jokes and image macros of cats,” writes Kenneth Goldsmith, the book also contains poems “that obliquely grapple with bigger issues of morality, politics, feminism, capitalism, and the environment.”
"I’ve always been interested in the internal shape-changes of the poem. In my student days, it was common to assume that the poem makes a statement — that it’s protesting war, or is grieving a death. My teachers, on the whole, didn’t see a poem as an evolving thing that might be saying something completely new at the end because it had changed its mind from whatever it had proposed at the beginning." An interview with Harvard's Helen Vendler about the structure of poetry, the benefits of studying science and mathematics, and the "miraculous" voices of Shakespeare and Keats.
"In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking." The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
Dan Piepenbring writes at The Paris Review on judging a book by its cover in the Weimar Republic and the sheer mastery of some of the early twentieth-century German cover designers. Two related pieces from The Millions: our own Bill Morris on the pleasures of the typewritten book cover and Matt Allard on reimagining some popular cover art.
Out this week: The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman; Charleston by Margaret Bradham Thornton; Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya; The Home Place by Carrie La Seur; Lucky Us by Amy Bloom; and Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (which I wrote about for our Great 2014 Book Preview).