Steve Almond treks deeper into familiar territory in the latest issue of The Baffler, wherein the essayist takes on “our lazy embrace of [Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert,” an undoubtedly strong “testament to our own impoverished comic standards.” Indeed, Almond notes, our satirists and comics today remain “careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too vigorously.”
This week in book-related infographics: a chart of just how long it takes kids to finish popular books. Where the Wild Things Are? 4 minutes. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? 24 hours.
Year in Reading alumna Ottessa Moshfegh has a new story in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Beach Boy.” Moshfegh also spoke with Deborah Treisman about her writing: “Isn’t it hilarious when people are blind to their own arrogance? For some, no amount of American liberal-arts education, charitable contributions, or hours spent listening to NPR will ever wake them up to their own privileged, bigoted, and classist attitudes. […] One might say that New Yorkers like the folks in ‘The Beach Boy’ are especially susceptible to the kind of stupidity I love to write about—the stupidity of entitlement.”
“To make money, I’m planning on teaching English, or coaching recreational soccer, or something. But that’s not important because apartments are cheap, and that part, kicking around a ball, or helping Thai children have a better command of the English language, even though I don’t speak a word of Thai, will probably only be a chapter in my book. Those things will provide some nice blog-potential details, too. They’ll show the texture of my everyday life.” Travelling to the East for the sole purpose of writing a memoir.
Out this week: Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis; What Would Lynne Tillman Do by Lynne Tillman; In Paradise by the late Peter Matthiessen; Family Life by Akhil Sharma; Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman; I Pity the Poor Immigrant by Zachary Lazar; The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan; The Plover by Adam Doyle; The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon; and a new biography of John Updike by Adam Begley.
Starbucks is going to start pushing books one at a time, Oprah style. Their first selection is Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. The general reaction seems to be, why couldn’t they have chosen a better book?The University of California library system has signed onto the Google Books Library Project. U of C is now involved with both of the two major library scanning projects. (The other one is the Open Content Alliance, which is led by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.) The story at CNet.BookMooch is a new book swapping site that lets people exchange books with other people for free. How it works: “Give & Receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others. Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive. (via)
Rumors of John Cheever’s death? Greatly exaggerated.HarperCollins sets out to test the proposition that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.BHL rips Valkyrie and Tom Cruise.Maud lauds Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women.The New York Public Library names Millions guest contributor Sana Krasikov a finalist for its Young Lions award. Congratulations, Sana!More Intelligent Life interviews Jon Fasman, another Young Lion in waiting and author of The Unpossessed CityAlso at MiL: Lorin Stein wants a stimulus plan for book critics. (Hear! Hear!)Millions-fave Paul Theroux interviewed by the Boston Globe: “People say to me: How can I become a writer? I always say: one, leave home; two, tell the truth.”xkcd takes on the Kindle.”Jack Kerouac’s ‘lost’ novel The Sea is My Brother, which he wrote during his years as a merchant seaman, is to be published in its entirety for the first time.”Soon there will be a literary prize for everyone: “The St. Francis College Literary Prize is designed for a fourth published book of fiction.” ($50,000!)The strangest title shortlistVia Gwenda, the Wikipedia find of the week: “A book curse was the most widely-employed and effective method of discouraging the thievery of manuscripts during the medieval period.”The best reasoning yet for why the Kindle/”Text-to-Speech” uproar is dumb. Meanwhile, Amazon backs down.”I”, “we”, “two” and “three” the oldest English words.A resourceful group of Chinese enthusiasts creates bootleg translations of every issue of The Economist.Shark-jumping: “HarperCollins Pays Big Advance For A Book Of… Tweets“Stuff White Readers Should Like