“Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” – Walt Whitman on Edgar Allan Poe’s significance, circa 1880.
“For example, I don’t feel that catharsis in a play necessarily takes place during the course of a play. Often it should take place afterward.” The Paris Review offers a manuscript page from playwright Edward Albee, who died this past weekend. See also: this amazing piece of lore behind the titling of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
“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.
“6 Reasons We’re In Another ‘Book-Burning’ Period In History” is not about the destruction of books based on content or community objections; it’s about the destruction of books because libraries (and sometimes bookstores) don’t know what to do with them. We also had a little something to say about the topic.
The publishing industry is roughly 86% white. Yet comparative titles, or “book comps,” are whiter still, the L.A. Review of Books has found, arguing that this makes it exceptionally difficult for writers of color to place their books with imprints at Big Five publishers. “Comps,” in other words, “perpetuate the status quo.” Here’s how.
At long last Renata Adler’s re-released Speedboat is out from NYRB Classics. The book’s attracted quite a bit of (deserved) pre-release hype. Also out today are a pair of books covered in our Great 2013 Book Preview: Vladimir Nabokov’s The Tragedy of Mr. Morn (no relation to yours truly) and Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives. In three days you can get your hands on Kristopher Jansma’s debut novel The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards.
“Half utilitarian data visualization project, half absurdist poetic gesture:” a Brooklyn artist is working to turn all of Wikipedia into a print encyclopedia set numbering some 7,600 volumes. But the best part of the project by far is the titles for those volumes, which include such gems as “Hulk (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) — Humanitarianism in Africa.”