Equipment for today’s lunch hour: 1) somewhere sunny and out-of-doors to sit; 2) failing that, a gazebo or other shelter from inclement weather; 3) a printout of Deborah Eisenberg‘s latest short story, from the current NYRB; 4) undivided attention.
I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of Emdashes’ Ask the New Yorker Librarians series.Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Franzen’s new memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani’s wrath filled pen aside, Ed explains why she’s right, and I have to agree. I looked back through the archives here and realized I hadn’t elaborated on it much beyond writing back in 2003 that “Franzen’s non-fiction bugs the heck out of me,” but it put me off enough that I avoided reading The Corrections for a long time because of it.Speaking of reviews, it’s a good thing Bob Dylan didn’t get the Franzen treatment. He tells contactmusic.com that while he doesn’t care about music reviews, the reviews for Chronicles Vol. 1 meant a lot to him: “Most people who write about music, they have no idea what if feels like to play it, but, with the book I wrote, I thought, ‘The people who are writing reviews of this book, man, they know what the hell they’re talking about. They know how to write a book, they know more about it than me.’ The reviews of this book, some of ’em almost made me cry – in a good way. I’d never felt that from a music critic, ever.”Even though it seems like there’s another “book banning” story in the news every week, the AP reports that the 405 challenges reported to the American Library Association last year is the smallest number since they started keeping track in the early 1980s. The challenges have dropped by more than half since the ALA started Banned Books Week to promote free expression. Kudos to the librarians.The second most brilliant magazine in the world (refer to the top item in this list for the first), The Economist has a characteristically well-considered a piece on the newspaper industry’s timid efforts to embrace the Internet. Thanks to Millions contributor Andrew for sending this along.
It’s a quiet week for new books. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which famously became a blockbuster bestseller after being released as a paperback original, is now available in hardcover for the first time ever in the U.S., thanks to a new Modern Library Edition. Short story master Tessa Hadley has a new collection out, Married Love, (as a paperback original, coincidentally).
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein was interviewed for Days of Yore. Topics include: the “perverse power” of editing your parents’ work; his rise through the ranks of NYC publishing; and the new story collection, Object Lessons. Elsewhere you can check out his “five favorite short story collections.” And, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our own Bill Morris’s interview with Paris Review deputy editor Sadie Stein (no relation) about the Object Lessons collection as well.
A new Hemingway App promises to trim the fat from your writing in a way that the Great Bearded One would’ve approved. The app uses various color codes to highlight writing written in the passive voice, writing that’s too hard to read, and also unnecessary adverbs or complex phrases. Sounds interesting enough, no? Well, the problem is that someone ran the Hemingway App on some actual Ernest Hemingway writing, and it turns out that Papa himself didn’t even write to the app’s standard.