According to The Secret Literary Life of Augusto Pinochet author Cristóbal Peña, the Chilean dictator “was tormented by an intense inferiority complex, which he tried to deal with by collecting books.” A recent article in The New York Times provides a look at that book collection, which totaled around 50,000 books and has been valued at around $3 million.
"Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us." Let's just say David L. Ulin doesn't think Joyce would work for Google.
In Bogotá, Colombia, a garbage collector by the name of Jose Gutierrez has been working tirelessly to rescue thrown-away children’s books for use in his homemade community library. If this doesn’t immediately call to mind Bohumil Hrabal’s classic Too Loud a Solitude, then it might be time for a re-read. Also, check out this Millions essay by John Yargo on Hrabal’s rambling fiction.
I've been noticing some of the fantastic pages that libraries and museums have put up for their book exhibits. Here's Czech book covers of the 1920s and 1930s and Civil War maps from the Library of Congress, for example.Fans of audiobooks will enjoy this essay by the pseudonymous Thomas H. Benton at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Link via OPTR.Thinking about getting rid of some books? This Ask Metafilter thread has lots of suggestions on where to donate your books.For a year, I was a bookstore employee who blogged, so the story of this book clerk in the UK who got fired for blogging hit pretty close to home.
“For a man who is making his living as a critic to write about Scott Fitzgerald without mentioning The Great Gatsby just means that he doesn't know his business. Many people consider The Great Gatsby one of the few classic American novels. I do myself. Obviously such a judgment is debatable.” The New Republic digs up a tribute by John Dos Passos.