We like big books and we cannot lie. But are books just continuing to get longer and longer? A new survey of bestsellers has concluded that the average book is now 25% bigger than its counterpart fifteen years ago. The Guardian investigates. Mark O’Connell at The Millions has his own theory about long books.
The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn't been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska's 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. "Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s."
Sarcasm makes the Internet go round. No, seriously, it basically does, and over at The Toast a linguist examines some of the strategies writers have developed, or are trying to develop, to communicate that sarcasm through writing, without the benefit of an eye-roll and a different tone of voice.
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.
Recommended reading: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the new modesty of literary criticism and the complicated relationship between texts, critics, and politics. For more on the balance between art and politics, look no further than Jonathan Clarke's Millions essay, "Alive with Disagreement and Dissent."