Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.
According to Gilles Deleuze, "the lives of philosophers are rarely interesting." This may have come as a surprise to Jacques Derrida, who once spent a couple days in jail after cops in the Prague airport tried to frame him for smuggling weed. (This incident gets ample coverage in a new biography of the scholar).
"If only the interest he provokes were limited to his immediate surroundings, but, alas, it is not!... Still farther away, great mountains of data mining sum up, in zeroes and ones, the ultimate truth of his being." KA Semënova updates Nabokov's short story "Signs and Sumbols" (and works by other famous Russian authors) for McSweeney's, "teh internets" and the digital world.
Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
Legally sampling songs on a hit record is astoundingly expensive. As Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola note in Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Licensing, the Beastie Boys would have lost $19.8 million dollars because of Paul's Boutique. (via BoingBoing)
In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.