Recommended Reading: On Brad Bigelow, a “Custodian of Forgotten Books.” Our own Claire Cameron traces the history of John Williams’s Stoner, which was first published in 1965 and became a bestseller in the Netherlands in 2013.
What if the zodiac was based not on your birthday but on your favorite book in high school? If it were, and if your favorite book happened to be Lord of the Flies, we could guess that you are currently “researching masters programs and preparing for your fourth Burning Man.”
VQR has published an essay by Chris Fischbach of Coffee House Press that provides an overview of some of the innovative small presses at work today. Fischbach specifically mentions Tin House, Melville House and Two Dollar Radio as “nimble” publishing houses that “can try things big publishers might not find worthwhile or consistent with the aims of a traditional publishing program,” such as producing micro-budget films or illustrated versions of classic works of literature.
In the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller explains why all the year-end lists are a tiresome exercise: “What annoys and disappoints me, though, is the chilly retrospective nature of such lists. They drain all of the blood from the critic’s job. They require a cold, methodical calculation of passions long past. They’re about yesterday’s yearning. Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so.” (Thanks, Laurie)
At The NYT Mag, Virginia Heffernan‘s “Drill, Baby, Drill” explores the possibility that drills and memorization might not be quite as oppressive as some of the kinder, gentler pedagogues of our time suggest and offers a list of aps to help aspiring rote learners (Nota Bene: VerseByHeart).
Buzzfeed kicked up a storm on Thursday when its first-ever Buzzfeed Books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald, told Poynter that the site’s new vertical won’t publish negative reviews. Invoking the “Bambi rule,” Fitzgerald argued that he sees no point “[wasting] breath talking smack about something.” At The Atlantic Wire, Eric Levenson published a counterpoint, while Alexanda Petri poked fun at Fitzgerald in the WaPo.