“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.
Why do Americans read so few translated works? A lot of reasons come to mind, but one is that translated books are often the purview of small publishers, who don’t have the same marketing budgets as the larger companies in the industry. At The New Yorker's Currency blog, Vauhini Vara looks at the statistics compiled by Three Percent, a database at the University of Rochester that tracks publications of translated works in the country. Related: Oliver Farry's interview with the Portuguese writer António Lobo Antunes.
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)
In a new ten-part Believer series, Sheila Heti is interviewing ten of her “favorite people on Twitter” so they can “talk about what they do on Twitter and why – their Twitter philosophies, their do’s and don’ts, and what they make of the medium in general.” Kicking off the series, we have Heti’s interview with Kimmy Walters, who you may know better as @arealliveghost. (You can bookmark this link if you want to keep track of all of the updates.)
“When Leonard Riggio bought Barnes & Noble in 1971, it consisted of a single struggling store in Manhattan. Over time, with swagger and an unwavering belief in the value of physical bookstores, he turned it into the country’s largest bookselling chain.” Riggio, founder and executive chairman of B&N, announced yesterday that he will be stepping down in September. Let our own Janet Potter take you through a history of her love for bookstores.
Charles Bock (Beautiful Children), in a recent interview, sounding perturbed: "Where are you right now? I’m in a writer’s room in Manhattan. There’s all these other people with their fucking computers doing their stupid little bullshit. It feels pointless. You wanna feel like it matters. It’s hard to do that when you’re in a room like this. At least it’s quiet."