Bill Keller discusses John Borling’s Taps On The Walls, a collection of poems “tapped out in code, letter by letter, on the walls of a wretched cell in Hanoi during his 6 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.”
Appearing Elsewhere: VQR Young Reviewers Contest winner and Millions contributor Emily drops by the NBCC blog to tell them what she’s been reading.The NY Times fleshes out some of the details of Google’s digitizing agreement with publishers and authors, including getting into some of the numbers involved. We explained the importance of the deal last year.At Jacket Copy Carolyn Kellogg gets Sarah Weinman to discuss the secrets behind her incredible speed-reading ability. (462 books in 2008!)Carolyn also recently highlighted all the great literary magazines that supplied the featured stories in last year’s “best of” fiction anthologies, as well as the runners up.80 years after the last one, a new Winnie the Pooh book is on its way.A timely and topical list: the Top 10 green books of 2008For the multi-tasker (or perhaps the really lazy): the book holder bracelet.”Had I an atheist friend who asked, ‘Can you tell me please what this religion business is all about, not as some metaphysical hypothesis or historical phenomenon, but what it really means to be religious?’ I might hand him or her a copy of Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead. ‘Read this,’ I’d say, ‘and it will give you a pretty good idea.'”For sports fans: Bill James on why statisticians should boycott the BCS.That perilous question: why blog?Vice did a fiction issue.David Brooks discusses some of the best long-form journalism of 2008 (with links!)The outgoing president’s surprising reading list.The Hype Machine’s impressive top albums of 2008 project.Wikipedia find of the week: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffaloA consideration of poet Jack Spicer.With apologies to William Carlos Williams, A poem for Blago.New short fiction from Horacio Castellanos Moya, author of Senselessness (via Scott)Jonathan Franzen on the Social Novel (via OUP blog)
A Canadian Ph.D. student wrote (and successfully defended!) a 52,000 word dissertation that features almost no punctuation. Titled “Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge,” the dissertation has no periods, commas or semi-colons, a choice intended to “make a point” about colonial and aboriginal identity. Canada’s National Post has the story.
Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
The University of Toronto now has a webpage up for its current exhibition “Beyond the Words: Author Portraits by Carl Köhler.” See some of Köhler’s remarkable portraits of artists and intellectuals and read about him here.
Out this week: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan; Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides; Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien; A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo; An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon; Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn; Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (whom we interviewed recently); and We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.