Fun fact: Up until the late 1940s, science fiction novels really didn’t exist. Andrew Liptak writes about the rise of the paperback novel and the evolution of science fiction for Kirkus Reviews. Pair with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions essay on “The Point of the Paperback.”
“As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)” It’s shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett’s back up again.
Emdashes notes that the New Yorker is issuing an update disk for its Complete New Yorker DVD-ROM set. She also spotted the Complete New Yorker being sold on a portable hard drive.At the Washington Post, an academic writes in defense of the Google Book Search Library Project: “Only a small fraction of the huge number of books published today are printed in editions of more than a few thousand copies. And the great works of even the recent past are quickly passing into obscurity. Google has joined with major libraries to make it possible for all titles to remain accessible to users.”At the SF Chronicle, a report that somebody is finally holding the folks behind the JT Leroy hoax responsible: “Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Mary Jane Skalski of Antidote Films, an independent film company that bought the rights to JT LeRoy’s novel, Sarah, have sued LeRoy and/or Laura Albert (who was LeRoy) and Judi Farkas, Hollywood manager of the writer. The New York Times reports that in the suit, filed in New York, the filmmakers want $45,000 they paid in options and $60,000 in costs they paid in developing the project.” You’ll recall that back in January I asked What about JT Leroy? (via Ed)The corporate-sponsored literary popularity contest The Quills is back. Here are the many, many nominees. I don’t have much to add to what I wrote about The Quills last year: “If we are dissatisfied with the Booker Prize or the National Book Award or the Pulitzer, the Quills, which casts the net very wide and relies on voting from the reading public, have been presented as a populist alternative. The results are less than satisfying. It is not news to anyone that the reading public likes Harry Potter and books by Sue Monk Kidd and Janet Evanovich. I hold nothing against those bestsellers, but naming them the best books of the year does little to satisfy one’s yearning to be introduced to the best, to have an encounter with a classic in our own time. We like those bestsellers because they entertain us, but while monetary success is the reward for those entertaining authors, awards have typically honored books with qualities that are more difficult to quantify.”Another book banning attempt: The Miami-Dade School Board has sided with a parent who wishes to remove Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba) and 23 other books from school libraries. The pro-book banning contingent contends that the books fail to give an accurate picture of life in Cuba under Castro. The Miami Herald has the latest.
The deadline for DIAGRAM’s annual essay contest is fast approaching. Past winners include Peter Jay Shippy’s “Goonies: or Wallace Stevens’s ‘The Snowman’–an Essay in 7 Films” and (my all-time favorite) Cheyenne Nimes’s “SECTION 404 OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER SAND SHARK, SUBTITLED ‘THIS TROUBLESOME REGULATORY CONSTRAINT’.”
The Millions is adding a new staff writer today. Join us in welcoming Bill Morris. Bill most recently wrote a consideration of China Miéville for the site this week, his fifth piece for us thus far. Bill is the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls’ Day. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, the (London) Independent, the Washington Post Magazine and the website Aolnews.com. He lives in New York City.