“In the morning, before we left, we presented my aunt with a gift from Indonesia, a package of luwak, one of four in Bon’s duffel. Civet coffee? she said, bemused. We were already savoring cups of coffee at her table, brewed in her coffee press from Arabica beans of her own supply.” An excerpt from Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen's forthcoming novel appears in the new issue of Ploughshares.
The By the Book series at the Times has produced some pretty great entries, but we have a feeling that Colson Whitehead may go down as its best interviewee. Why do we say this? Well, it might have something to do with his weeping fit in a Chelsea Dallas BBQ, prompted by an early scene in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
Some very cool Hunter S. Thompson photography showing now at an LA gallery. The show coincides with a pricey new "collector's edition" book that "presents a rare look into the life of Thompson." (via)Another most literate cities list has arrived. In 2006, Seattle wins, with Minneapolis second. My hometown Washington, DC, is tied for third and LA, where I lived when I started this blog, is eighth. The last two cities I've lived in, Chicago (39th) and, now, Philadelphia (tied for 33rd), fail to crack the top ten. Not sure what conclusions I can draw about that, but USA Today draws its own conclusions in an article about the list.Somebody gets into Gwenda's garbage, her papers fly everywhere, and before you know it, she's cought in a "indie movie scene wrought with ironic symbolism." Brilliant.Lesser-Known Editing and Proofreading Marks. Also Brilliant. (via Languagehat)On a more serious note, Tim O'Reilly explains why the book search efforts of Google, et al, are broken. The problem is that we must search in Google's (or Yahoo's) walled garden. There is no way to search across all of the books that have been digitized, which is very much at odds with our experience on the Web, where we can search everything at once.