Don’t blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called “puffery.” As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, “Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews.” The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.
Lena Dunham is the new voice of the Archie comics generation. The Girls creator will write four issues of the famous comic, coming out in 2015. She’s not the only woman joining the comics industry. DC Comics is adding a Native American teenage girl, inspired by the real Canadian Aboriginal teen activist Shannen Koostachin, to the Justice League United.
From the book I’m reading right now: “My mother’s output, starred and pseudonymous, appeared regularly in one of those little, irregular periodicals so limited in readership that they might be called incestuous. Subscription was by invitation only, and contributors would go into a rage over a misplaced comma and brood for days if their poems were understood.”
The Man Booker International prize was just awarded to Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, author of Satantango (later adapted for film by Béla Tarr) and Seiobo There Below. When asked to recommend a starting point for readers who have yet to encounter his work, the author defers: “I couldn’t recommend anything … instead, I’d advise them to go out, sit down somewhere, perhaps by the side of a brook, with nothing to do, nothing to think about, just remaining in silence like stones. They will eventually meet someone who has already read my books.” Well, if a stream isn’t handy, we have a few ideas: our own interview with Krasznahorkai, Stephanie Newman’s review of Seiobo There Below, and Music and Literature’s issue no. 2, featuring literature on and by Krasznahorkai and Béla Tarr.
This January, Penguin Random House, Goodreads, Mashable and the National Book Foundation are sponsoring National Readathon Day, a holiday which encourages Americans to join together for a marathon reading session. If you’d like to take part, you can start a fundraiser to help support reading education, or else enlist your friends and family to read with you on January 24th from noon to 4 p.m.
As part of his research for his recent treatise on office life, Cubed, n + 1 editor Nikil Saval looked back on his own years in an open office. In an interview with Sara Scribner, he talks about his growing awareness that it wasn’t good for his health: “It was sociable in some good senses, but also mostly not a pleasant place to be.”