Recommended Reading: Public libraries are becoming gateways to technological invention.
Move over, “GIF.” (Or, more accurately: animate yourself away from us in an unending loop.) There’s a new Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Enter, “selfie,” a word of Australian origin that describes an ostensibly new “digital affair, [that’s actually] a novel iteration of an old form: the self-portrait.” (They even come with overarching themes of mortality.)
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.
“When I have an idea that will later, sadly, become a story or a poem, I have a sensation of receiving something. But I do not know if that “something” is given to me by something or someone or if it bursts out on its own.” An excerpt from Borges‘s conversations with the Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari on writing, memory, and God is now available on The New York Review of Books blog.