“The [book] review’s pre-eminence is irrefutable: most people are acquainted with far, far more books through reviews than they could ever hope to read. And that is, generally, to the good.” Joseph Mackin explores why we write and read book reviews for the New York Journal of Books.
The American Literary Translators Association has announced this year’s recipients of the National Translation Award. Prose honors went to William M. Hutchins’s translation from the Arabic of Ibrahim al-Koni’s The New Waw: Saharan Oasis, and the poetry winner was Pierre Joris’s translation from the German of Paul Celan’s Collected Later Poetry.
Researchers at Google have analyzed “audiovisual patterns,” “title, description and tags,” “words associated with amusement” in user comments, “emoticons,” and even the number of o’s in the average “LOL” in various YouTube videos in order to identify the funniest content on the web. Then they set up an algorithm to rank their findings, and subjected those findings to an audience vote (which you can join over here). Based on their calculations so far, this was the funniest video of all time. What do you think?
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
New this week: Tupelo Hassman’s debut Girlchild, a pair of novels — Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek — by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.
The Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Bookstores is only a week away. Get all the details and RSVP.Little Dorrit is must-see-TV in the Packer household.For those considering undertaking Infinite Jest, we recommend Slate’s Audio Book Club discussion.Meanwhile, in the first installment of New York Magazine’s new “Reading Room” feature, participants get, er… wet.”‘I never wanted to write this book,'” [Alec Baldwin] tells us… ‘It was also a book I never wanted to read, but here we are, Alec and I, making the best of a bad situation.'”The influence of the late J.G. Ballard, who died this week, reached from Jonathan Lethem to Thom Yorke.What’s Bret Easton Ellis up to? Not much, apparently.An inspired blog feature collects one-star Amazon reviews of the classics (via HTMLGIANT).In praise of Peter Handke and A.J. Liebling.Senator Arlen Specter realizes that there’s no way to endear yourself to Republican primary voters like writing for The New York Review of Books.William H. Gass goes for baroque. (via The Complete Review)Some small presses are trying out a subscription model.The earliest known dust jacket for a book has been found. (via LitKicks)The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced.Ben Yogoda writes a defense of common English.Trade paperbacks thrive in tough times. (Our suggestion: make them even smaller.)Earth Day was this past week, and now we know: used books are “greener” than new.