Scared of relying on the cloud? Worried your book-in-progress might disappear into cyberspace? How would you feel if you could save your files on — wait for it — the Moon?
The word “nostalgia” comes from the Greek root nostos, meaning “return home,” and algos, or “pain.” It’s painful because we cannot return home again. Ramp up the nostalgia and check out this elegy to the old school book tour by Keith Lee Morris. If we’re talking book tours, here’s a piece on the distinct personality types sure to derail your literary event.
In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
“As much as I claimed that I read for my own edification, it was a lie. The books I was most drawn to were those that were loved by someone in my life. Reading them, I thought, would teach me all I needed to know about them—nice and safe, from a distance. Reading them with one hand, it was easy to have the other keep them at arm’s length.” Romy Sugden writes for The Oyster Review about trying to connect with her estranged father by reading John le Carré‘s A Perfect Spy.
Another phone-related book project: Call Me Ishmael, a site that collects stories about reading and life via voicemail messages. The instructions are simple: call Ishmael at 774-325-0503 and leave him a message “about a book you love and a story you have lived.” Several of these messages are transcribed and posted online every week but, if we’re being honest, we appreciate this project for the pun as much as for the stories.
Most institutions that become an essential part of a local culture build up a collection of curios over the years. They collect as much evidence as they can of their proximity to major events. At the New York Public Library, for example, you can find a letter opener whose handle is made from the paw of Charles Dickens’s dead cat. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)