“It’s like a crackpot combination of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute and Lars von Trier’s Dogville. Does this crazy idea work? Maybe 70 percent of the time, but when it does it’s both daring and brilliant.” At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir is surprised by Anna Karenina.
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.
“As energy loss is an unavoidable fact of mechanics — no mechanism can be 100% efficient, and the best a designer can do is manage the loss as productively as possible — so translation loss is similarly unavoidable,” explains Mark Davie, who recently translated Galileo’s Selected Writings. But what if the “energy loss” isn’t a failure of the work’s translator so much as a failure of the organization commissioning (or failing to commission) the translation? What if, as is the case for much Arabic literature, “the process [of selecting works for translation] is based on a political consideration” that deprives Western readers of the best Arabic literary work?
Did mysterious bureaucrats authorize the destruction of historical documents in North Carolina in order to cover up “a paper trail associated with one or more now-prominent, politically connected NC families that found its wealth and success through theft, intimidation, and outrageous corruption?” That’s Constance Hall Jones’s suspicion. Bonus: Part two, which includes a timeline. (h/t Lydia Kiesling)
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.