“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
Every year brings a fresh new crop of popular books on physics and cosmology, or so they say. 2011 was no exception, featuring books on dark matter and dark energy, the Large Hadron Collider, time, the multiverse, cosmic mortality, a bit of history, biography, and even a celebration of "fringe physics." Here is a list of top ten picks.
“I was absolutely horrified. Wouldn’t have known if not for a Russian reader who read both editions. Publisher in total breach of contract.” The Guardian reports that author VE Schwab was “devastated” to learn scenes from her fantasy series Shades of Magic have been excised from Russian translations for featuring queer characters. See also: a consideration of the commercial viability of LGBTQ lit.
Jonathan Franzen knows a lot about birds. The novelist competed on Jeopardy's "Power Players Week" alongside Chuck Todd and S.E. Cupp as part of a variation on the Celebrity Jeopardy theme. Franzen flubbed a few questions about Shakespeare which, ironically, served to help dispel some of the "old curmudgeon" reputation that has followed him for years. This piece from The Millions on the case for non-Ikea writing in the Age of Franzen might interest you.
Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts." Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
"In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was 'every woman.' To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?" If a 'Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps' headline isn't enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.