Prospero, the new arts and culture blog of The Economist, has just posted my piece on literary Brooklyn, which explains how New York’s trendiest borough has become a vertically integrated factory for the production of fiction and poetry.
“Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.” Let’s just say David L. Ulin doesn’t think Joyce would work for Google.
“Seidel scared himself with poetry, and us too. How had he done it?” John Jeremiah Sullivan presented the Hadada Award to Frederick Seidel at The Paris Review’s Spring Revel last month. You can read the full text of his speech and three of Seidel’s poems. This seems to be a much better week for Sullivan because he also just won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”
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.”
On Monday we mentioned that the MTA has started offering free e-books underground as part of its Subway Reads program, but they weren’t the first to make books an integral part of the public transit experience. London’s Books on the Underground was first, but then came a more interesting development in Australia: book ninjas. Books on the Rails is a gonzo experiment started by two Melbourne residents who began releasing free books – actual, paper books – into the wilds of the city’s tram system. About 300 books are currently in circulation in what’s possibly the world’s most open lending library.