“Updike stopped cartooning while he was an undergraduate at Harvard. This is a factually true statement, but it ignores a larger reality. While Updike might have ceased cartooning, the visual language of comics was never far from his mind. Cartooning was an inextricable strand in his creative DNA.” Jeet Heer writes about John Updike, cartooning, fandom and “bedesque” prose for The Paris Review. Pair with James Santel‘s Millions essay on “The Curious Paradox of John Updike.”
“Over the past thirty-five years alone, language from Frost’s poem has appeared in nearly two thousand news stories worldwide, which yields a rate of more than once a week. In addition, ‘The Road Not Taken’ appears as a title, subtitle, or chapter heading in more than four hundred books by authors other than Robert Frost, on subjects ranging from political theory to the impending zombie apocalypse.” David Orr writes for The Paris Review about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” one of the most misread poems of the English language.
As e-books gain market share, publishers are gussying up book designs. Free Press vice president and publisher Martha K. Levin says, “the message [is] that even if you’re buying 90 percent of your books on your e-reader, this is the one that you want to have on your bookshelf.” The article highlights 1Q84 as an example of a successfully well-designed physical object, but if you haven’t seen a copy, check out Chip Kidd’s discussion of his work on the book.
Great posts over at Sarah’s blog and at M.J. Rose’s about where books sell the most copies (think Wal Mart) and why Amazon rankings don’t mean much in the way of book sales. (via Tingle Alley)They’ve announced the nominees for the Quills Awards – an attempt to build a book-focused version of the typical, bloated TV awards show. The nominees seem to be stale mix of award-winners and nominees (NBA, Pulitzer, etc.) from the last 18 months and middlebrow bestsellers that aren’t particularily literary, but aren’t outright trash either. Will anybody watch this? I mean, I like books, but yawn.For the last two weeks, Harry Potter #6 has “been the top-seller in every single one of The Book Standard’s 99 local-area charts. But this week, a glimmer of hope appeared for other authors, as The Book Standard charts registered a change – one single change.” How a “conservative talk-radio personality” unseated Harry Potter in the Bristol-Kingsport-Johnson City, Tennessee, area.Godzilla pauses for a moment before his rampage. Click it. It’s funny.
“Thus it is our [feminists’] historical task … to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category ‘woman’ as well as the category ‘man’ are political and economic categories, not eternal ones.” This essay in remembrance of Alexis Arquette touches on everything from VIP guest lists to feminist theorist Monique Wittig.
Kirk Curnutt takes readers on a tour of of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-neglected commercial short fiction. Fitzgerald, after all, “produced 160 short stories [in his life],” writes Curnutt, “earning a total of $241,453 off the genre — more than $3 million in today’s dollars.” Yet the author didn’t think highly of the work, and even referred to himself as an “old whore” because he wouldn’t quit.