Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
“A book critic working today must contend with a world in which more diverse voices are heard and the traditional gatekeepers have less power to enforce conformity.” LitHub interviewed Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, about literary criticism. Read our own Emily St. John Mandel on bad reviews.
We’ve been back from our holiday travels for a few days, and I’ve finally had some time to catch up with some online reading. Here are some articles and links that caught my eye. (Several of these come from Arts and Letters Daily)From Scientific American, a look at last year’s tsunami and how scientists have used this real life event to validate and augment various previously untested theories about these rare, cataclysmic events.The 2005 Dubious Data Awards: the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University highlights several examples of overhyped news stories based on dubious numbers.From Wired: Will the impending bird-flu pandemic be a global version of “the boy who cried wolf?” Scientists are trying to assess the real danger using supercomputers to play out fantastically complicated simulations that remind me of SimCity.In the Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley “reconsiders” C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower saga. He suggests Beat to Quarters as the best in the series.I’ve definitely become very interested in the business of newspapers in the last few years. Mike Hughlett’s article in the Chicago Tribune is a little “inside baseball,” but it lays out how important classified ads are to newspapers, and explains why newspapers aren’t as imperiled in the in online classified arena as some might suggest.Another tough business is opening a coffee shop. Michael Idov shares the harrowing details of his experience at Slate.A no-frills list of the bestselling books from 1900 to 1998, year by year.
After moving to Brooklyn, Sabine Heinlein spent a year trying to learn English, a task which left the native German speaker “close to aphasic” after a few months. Eventually, she met up with another recent immigrant, who enlisted her for help in a sprawling art project: a collection of words from each language spoken in New York City. At The Hairpin, she writes about her experience.
This is a fantastic piece on W. H. Auden, “The Murder of Lidice”, and the importance of the ideological and political contexts of war. Joanna Bourke writes, “the flood of poems [after the Lidice massacre] actually served to draw attention away from the people of Lidice and towards the swollen sensibilities of the poets and their readers.”