Got any big social engagements coming up on your calendar? Want to make a splash? Well here’s just the thing: memorize a whole heap of the words assembled in Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff, which has been entirely digitized thanks to some kind souls. Then try to work them into as many conversations as you can. (h/t The Harlequin)
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”
This past week saw the release of the final volume in Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs 1949-1993, a collection of recordings—some of which never before released—by Allen Ginsberg. This volume contains the “stunning 1956 Berkeley Town Hall reading of Ginsberg’s seminal poem ‘Howl.’” The volumes are for sale on iTunes, but you can also listen to an “8 song sampler” over on OpenCulture for free.
“Just as the written word changed the spoken word and the printed word changed the written word, so too will the digital word change the printed word, supplementing but not replacing the earlier forms of information technology.”
“The internet has altered our lives in ways television never did or could, but mainstream literary novelists – by which I mean writers who specialize in realistic, character-based narratives – have mostly shied away from writing about this, perhaps hoping that, like TV, it could be safely ignored.” Laura Miller examines how contemporary novels are coming to terms with the internet.
Dwight Garner, writing in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine, laments that so many high-end American novelists seem to be working on “the nine-year plan,” delivering a new novel roughly once a decade. He cites Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be out soon with The Marriage Plot, his third novel in 18 years, along with such slow cookers as Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. One name Garner neglected to mention is the Pulitzer Prize-winner William Kennedy, who will be out next month with Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, the eighth installment in his Albany cycle and his first novel since Roscoe appeared nine years and nine months ago. Look for our review of it here next month.