Why do Americans love Jane Austen so much? The BBC (who else) takes a look at possible reasons.
“In contemporary capitalist societies, libraries stand out as slightly odd. While people are generally accustomed to going into a store and having to pay if they plan on leaving with something – in a library this relationship is quite different.” From AirBnB to Zipcar, startups premised on the so-called “sharing economy” tout themselves as radical and disruptive. Except that another institution – the public library – has been offering communal property for hundreds of years.
Not that the circumstances are always ideal, as our own Jacob Lambert attests in his “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”
A new issue of The Quarterly Conversation has arrived, featuring an essay on Wizard of the Crow by QC creator Scott and a review of William T. Vollmann’s Poor People from Dave Munger. Lots of other good reviews in there too.Also via Scott, Political Theory Daily Review, a dense and daily collection of linksIn a Newsweek sidebar accompanying an excerpt of his book The American Religion, Harold Bloom names his “five most important books.” The most recent one to appear on the list? A tie, more or less, between Don Quixote and the complete works of Shakespeare. Bloom was also asked to admit to an important book he hadn’t read. His answer: “I cannot think of a major work I have not ingested.” That’s a lot of pages to store in one’s belly. (via Stephen)Good week for Mark Sarvas, first he announces that he’s sold his novel and now he’s off on his honeymoon. Filling in at TEV is Joshua Ferris, author of the much praised Then We Came to the End.And finally, a Baltimore Sun review had me intrigued by a new squirm-inducing non-fiction book by a former crime scene investigator for the Baltimore County police. Dana Kollmann’s book Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI gives a real-life look at a profession recently glamorized by TV show “CSI” and its many offshoots. Krall, however, describes a job both more boring and more odious than the one described on TV, but she does so with “dark humor,” which I’d imagine the job requires. The book’s title, for example, “comes from a story that involves a dead man, his hand and her attempts to get fingerprints on a freezing cold day.” Yikes.
There’s a tiff going on between Ursula le Guin and Kazuo Ishiguro. After le Guin accused Ishiguro of “despising” the fantasy genre, following an interview with the Times in which he wondered aloud if his readers would be prejudiced against his latest book, Ishiguro defended himself, claiming that he is “firmly on the side of the ogres and the pixies.” You can read a full rundown in The Guardian.
After last week’s NYT “Room for Debate” feature, ostensibly in answer to the question of why so many adults read YA fiction, Roger Sutton at the Horn Book took umbrage at the panelists’ only partial engagement with the question. In the end though, he makes his own position clear: “I don’t worry about adults reading YA novels. Read what you want.”
In Zadie Smith’s introduction to the Writers Bloc series, she writes that the program sought essays “that were not only pious, charitable or analytical but also readable, engaging, exciting.” The essays published by Guernica certainly meet this criteria. I particularly recommend Aleksandar Hemon’s essay on first graders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After our plea to lift The Bluest Eye‘s recent ban, The Nation has also come to Toni Morrison’s defense. “This pervasive sexual violence is reality for tens of thousands of students, a reality the Ohio Board of Ed is looking to whitewash with this latest censorship drive,” Peter Rothberg writes.