“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Dickens wrote about opium smoking in their novels. But if you read the way they describe opium smoking, without a doubt these people never saw the real thing. It’s laughable…What we see in movies, even to this day, with the obligatory London opium-smoking scene is complete fiction.” Interview with a modern-day opium addict.
"'Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but let's face it — it's a hot mess,' says Evison. 'If I had software that said, 'Look, maybe this four-page essay on scrimshaw isn't gonna fly with your 28 to 40 male [demographic],' what would we have lost with that? Sometimes, you know, it's just got to be a little bit of a dictatorship.'" When e-readers and marketing tactics collide.
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, talks to Noah Charney about his life, his work, and his taste in books. Answers are typical but insightful, with one incredibly colorful exception: Tanenhaus’s ideal workplace is bizarre. (Hint: The atmosphere falls somewhere between a nuclear fallout shelter and the kind of place you would keep a hostage and it’s nothing like where we write.)
"Dear Marlon, I’m praying that you’ll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it….You play Dean and I’ll play Sal... I'll show you how Dean acts in real life, you couldnt possibly imagine it without seeing a good imitation..." From a letter from Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando. (via The Rumpus)
As part of a collaboration with several international magazines, Full-Stop is publishing Babelsprech International, a series of articles on poetry around the world. In the latest edition, Karel Piorecký writes about contemporary Czech poetry, drawing a line between the pre- and post-Communist periods. Related: John Yargo on the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal.
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite "obscure" books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the "Best Translated Book of 2008" (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga's (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) "favorite writers we haven't heard of yet."Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)