At the LARB, Len Gutkin interviews Year in Reading alumnus William H. Gass, whose new novel, Middle C, incorporates techniques of twelve-tone composition. (In case you missed it, I wrote about the book a few weeks ago.)
Google has added a Worldcat search to Google Books, allowing readers to look for books in their local libraries as well as on online bookstore sites. (via)From the Department of Clever Book Promotions: Random House is using a text-based (or interactive fiction) game to promote the release of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist.Steven Johnson’s forthcoming book The Ghost Map, “a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London,” sounds pretty terrific. To whet the appetite, he provides a brief list of the “best” plague books to the Wall Street Journal. (via).Just in time for Banned Books Week, check out some very cool banned books jewelry.
This one goes out to all the visual learners out there. Here’s a helpful, illustrated guide to writing scenes and stories with Jeff VanderMeer, author of the bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy. Bonus: here’s an interview by VanderMeer with author Richard House from earlier this year.
Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
Fresh on the heels of his gargantuan New York Times Magazine profile, as well as the announcement that he’s led Jon Huntsman Jr. in the South Carolina polls, political prankster Stephen Colbert has decided to run for “president of the United States of South Carolina.” This, of course, is not the first time he’s pulled this stunt, but it is the first time he’s done it with this much funding. All of this raises the question of whether this is political satire or “School House Rock on Steroids.” But don’t get too excited. Apparently folks from the Palmetto State will not actually be able to vote for him.
For Public Books, Matthew Clair considers authoritative black knowledge in intellectual practices and “the logic of racial authenticity,” which “stipulates both that black intellectuals have a particular responsibility to represent, in both senses of that word, ‘their’ people, and that, as racial insiders, they are uniquely capable of doing so.”
Our own Michael Bourne takes a look at Thomas King’s Inconvenient Indian, which struggled to find a publisher in the United States despite flying off the shelves in Canada. “The curious publication history of [the book],” Bourne writes, “serves as a window into the wide differences in the way mainstream Americans and Canadians view the Native peoples in their midst.”