The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
Brontë for babies? Board books, those small, sturdy volumes with the glossy cardboard “pages” – generally featuring rounded corners so babies who are teething don’t cut their gums or poke out their eyes, are getting ludicrous. A new series, we’re told on the back covers, “is a fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature.”
It’s high time we acknowledge the mastery of the short story by some really fantastic American women. At LitHub, Bridget Read makes a compelling case for such writers as Lucia Berlin and Jamaica Kincaid as veritable dons of the genre. This piece pairs nicely with a recent Millions essay by Adam Boffa on terseness, Twitter, and Lydia Davis.
Rick Gekoski, previously shortlisted for the PEN/Ackerley prize, talks about what it means to be a good literary loser, at Guardian: “And as soon as the winner is announced and it isn’t you,” Colm Tóibín observed, “the cameraman just walks away, and you are left there at the table trying to look composed, and you want to die.”