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.
The Exile, home of the War Nerd, is back online at a new address after being forced to fold their print operation.Lots of folks were excited about Mark Twain being on the cover of Time. So was Season, until she opened the magazine.Will Leitch’s story of meeting Hunter S. Thompson is brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking.The New Anonymous is a literary magazine with a clever concept. According to EarthGoat, “No name on your submission, the readers never see names, the editors are anonymous.” Will anyone submit their work? Who is behind this mysterious mag?Summer book lists, compiled.Ever wonder where the word “ok” comes from? “The abbreviation fad began in Boston in the summer of 1838 … OFM, ‘our first men,’ and used expressions like NG, ‘no go,’ GT, ‘gone to Texas,’ and SP, ‘small potatoes.’ Many of the abbreviated expressions were exaggerated misspellings, a stock in trade of the humorists of the day. One predecessor of OK was OW, ‘oll wright,’ and there was also KY, ‘know yuse,’ KG, ‘know go,’ and NS, ’nuff said.’ The general fad may have existed in spoken or informal written American English for a decade or more before its appearance in newspapers. OK’s original presentation as ‘all correct’ was later varied with spellings such as ‘Oll Korrect’ or even ‘Ole Kurreck’. Deliberate word play was associated with the acronym fad and was a yet broader contemporary American fad.”
Today in book-related graphics: The Arts Shelf has created an infographic measuring famous literature by word count, and The New York Times provides a handy, illustrated guide to any writers’ retreat, complete with authors’ cloisters and an “emergency idea generator.”
“Set in the 2020s and 2030s in a collapsing and crashed America, the Parables books have always seemed incredibly and disturbingly prescient—and in the wake of November 8, 2016 they now seem downright spooky, the actual and accurate history of the future.” How Octavia Butler predicted the present. See also: our consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
New releases this week include The Signature of All Things by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, which you can learn more about in Steve Almond’s review for the Times. Also out: The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna; The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble; Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal; The Night Guest by Fiona MacFarlane; The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson; Personae by Hall of Famer Sergio de la Pava; and The Karl Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen.