Let the Great World Spin author (and one of today’s YiR2011 writers!) Colum McCann had some inspiring words for this year’s crop of Boston College freshmen. “There’s a degraded discourse around the notion of optimism these days that says there is something soft about being an optimist—something wrong,” he said. “It claims that optimism has no edge, as if it’s less than complete, less than the full deck of knowledge. The optimist is cartooned into the corner with an idiotic grin. I submit to you that none of that is true.”
The book bloggers are all waiting for the announcement of the National Book Award winner, and I, too, have to wonder what will happen once we know the recipient of the award in the fiction category. These women have gotten a lot of grief from folks who think they shouldn’t be there. What I’m wondering is will the NY Times and all the rest end their crusade and graciously accept the winner, or will the winner, whoever she may be, have to bear more criticism on her own. We shall see. In the meantime I have dug up some old links that are, unlike all this NBA stuff, not very timely, but they are good, so I wanted to share them with you:First, take a look at Jonathan Yardley’s fantastic discussion of the American novels that are, to his mind, the best of the last 125 years. He calls it “State of the Art.”The discussion among my fellow book bloggers about the Paris Reviews magnificent decision to put all of their interviews online has got me thinking about the recently departed George Plimpton, which is why I was happy to find this wonderful interview that he conducted with Truman Capote about In Cold BloodFinally, there are two types of people in this world… well, not really, but in this post from earlier this year, Michael at 2Blowhards explains the difference between movie people and book people and a lively discussion follows.Well, that’s enough from the old bookmarks file. Expect more timely news sometime soon.
“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”