In the spirit of the relentless consumerism and the commodification of literature, five hundred signed, specially-packed copies of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman will be retailing for $1,500 each. Did someone say “consumerism“?
“The call isn’t for a literature to, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has described, stop people from hitting us. [...] But for a multiplicity of presence. A mingling, if not an acceptance, of a duality of presence. The right to be average. For the black guys in our literary fiction, if nowhere else, to be given the benefit of the doubt.” Over at the Ploughshares blog, Bryan Washington makes a case for inclusion in literary fiction.
In her scathing, yet utterly necessary, review of Steve Jobs and its subject, Maureen Tkacik writes that "with any luck future generations will saddle Steve Jobs, the brand, with the blemish of all the jobs (small 'j') a once-great nation relinquished because of brand-name billionaires like Jobs."
"We believe in the digital with abandon. So when something of artisanal quality is placed in our hands, or we see something hanging on a wall drawn by an actual hand, we feel a little shock. We remember how to feel something. Maybe not quite an emotion, but the touch of paper does something to us. We use our senses again." Celebrating fifty years of the French publisher L’école des Loisirs, Gnaomi Siemens reflects on the power of hand-drawn images and the future of the book.
Pietru Caxaro composed “Il Cantilena” in the late 15th century, and his poem is widely considered to be the oldest known literary text in the Maltese language. Recently conservator Theresa Zammit Lupi worked to restore the original manuscript’s paper, binding and cover in order to “bring new life” to the historic work. You can read an approximate English translation of the poem courtesy of Wikipedia.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.