In their latest Trend Watch, Merriam-Webster announced they’ve been seeing more searches for “Kafkaesque,” a spike they attribute to British publishers writing about Booker winner Han Kang. Since the word is so overused, it’s worthwhile to ask: just what does it actually mean now, anyway? Allison Flood tries to pin it down at The Guardian.
I’d heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: “The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally–he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now–but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times (‘arrogant,’ ‘high-handed,’ ‘ethically compromised’) with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
Newsweek names “The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing.”Adam Kirsch interviewed about his new bio of Benjamin Disraeli.”Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days.” (via Jacket Copy)David Horvitz discovers several pages of his writing in this year’s Dave Eggers-edited Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was not told that his work (pulled from his website) would be appearing in the book. Now he is peeved and has made several demands. (No permalinks, so check out the long Dec. 9 entry.) (Thanks Buzz)The LA Times unveils its Favorite Books 2008.Google’s year-end “Zeitgeist” of 2008 search activity. Breaking Dawn the unsurprising top search.Recently discovered aggregators of quality content: The Browser and Give Me Something to Read.This week’s Wikipedia treat: a gem of alternative punctuation: the “irony mark.” In the history section of that entry, take note of the “doubt point, certitude point, acclamation point, authority point, indignation point, and love point.”Scott gets to the bottom of the striking new cover designs on Dalkey Archive Press’ books.NPR features an excerpt from Firmin, a Millions favorite (and former LBC pick) that is soon to be published in a new edition by Delta, a Random House imprint.The Association of American Publishers teams with several celebs to create BooksAreGreatGifts.com and accompanying YouTube vid. “Books make great gifts because they are an amazing way to kill time while your web site is buffering.” – Jon Stewart. (thanks Laurie)
“In Go Home! — a collection that feels particularly timely in the midst of attacks on immigrant families and communities — Asian diasporic writers are both thoughtful and generous in their reflections about who they are, where they have been, and where they belong.” For Shondaland, Nicole Chung interviewed Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, the anthology’s editor, and a few contributors (including Alexander Chee, Karissa Chen, T Kira Madden, and Esmé Weijun Wang) about what home means to them. Pair with: our review of Chee’s The Queen of the Night and Wang’s 2016 Year in Reading entry.
Public radio program Science Friday has quite a lineup on tap this week: “Science and art often seem to develop in separate silos, but many thinkers are inspired by both. Novelist Cormac McCarthy, filmmaker Werner Herzog, and physicist Lawrence Krauss discuss science as inspiration for art and Herzog’s new film on the earliest known cave paintings.” (via @maudnewton)