“He was a sassy youngster…[A]s to burning the epistle up or not—it never occurred to me to do anything at all: what the hell did I care whether he was pertinent or impertinent? he was fresh, breezy, Irish: that was the price paid for admission—and enough: he was welcome!” Turns out Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker were pen pals.
Great posts over at Sarah’s blog and at M.J. Rose’s about where books sell the most copies (think Wal Mart) and why Amazon rankings don’t mean much in the way of book sales. (via Tingle Alley)They’ve announced the nominees for the Quills Awards – an attempt to build a book-focused version of the typical, bloated TV awards show. The nominees seem to be stale mix of award-winners and nominees (NBA, Pulitzer, etc.) from the last 18 months and middlebrow bestsellers that aren’t particularily literary, but aren’t outright trash either. Will anybody watch this? I mean, I like books, but yawn.For the last two weeks, Harry Potter #6 has “been the top-seller in every single one of The Book Standard’s 99 local-area charts. But this week, a glimmer of hope appeared for other authors, as The Book Standard charts registered a change – one single change.” How a “conservative talk-radio personality” unseated Harry Potter in the Bristol-Kingsport-Johnson City, Tennessee, area.Godzilla pauses for a moment before his rampage. Click it. It’s funny.
As part of their Literary Ladies Cage Fight series, The Butter pitted two of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters against each other, staging contests between Hamlet’s Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet’s Juliet. Who won, you ask? Only one way to find out. You could also read Stefanie Peters on women and Shakespeare’s plays.
Expert walker and poet Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks, will lead a set of excursions on NYC streets during the month of June. Walkers will be given two lines to repeat to strangers, in an attempt to break down social barriers: “Anonymity dissolves. Spontaneous societies arise.”
Kory Stamper, one of the lexicographers responsible for Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, describes the pleasures and poetry to be found in the Third Edition’s “color definitions.” Take vermillion for example, which is listed as “a variable color averaging a vivid reddish orange that is redder, darker, and slightly stronger than chrome orange, redder and darker than golden poppy, and redder and lighter than international orange.” (Related: how colors got their names; who names colors what.)
I’ve written before about Literary Enemies, a series at the Ploughshares blog in which two writers are shown to have opposing sensibilities. This week, Lily Meyer argues that Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson are a worthy addition to the series, as the former contracts narrative space and the latter expands it. Sample quote: “It seems to me that Marilynne Robinson’s project, in her books suffused with Protestant belief, has nothing to do with Jesus or with God.”