On Monday we mentioned that the MTA has started offering free e-books underground as part of its Subway Reads program, but they weren’t the first to make books an integral part of the public transit experience. London’s Books on the Underground was first, but then came a more interesting development in Australia: book ninjas. Books on the Rails is a gonzo experiment started by two Melbourne residents who began releasing free books – actual, paper books – into the wilds of the city’s tram system. About 300 books are currently in circulation in what’s possibly the world’s most open lending library.
"If I could paint or compose music, I would want to finally arrive at what I felt was beauty for me and for others. I would trust that if I could make something that was beautiful, it would also be true, the way Charlie Parker is true or a Shostakovich cello concerto is true, and I feel the same way about writing. I try to make something beautiful out of language." Fogged Clarity interviews Stuart Dybek about the writing process and Ecstatic Cahoots, which we mentioned in our 2014 Book Preview.
Whether or not you’re an avid collector of NYRB Classics like Stoner, you’ll enjoy this profile of series publisher Edwin Frank, conducted by Millions contributor and Oyster Editorial Director Kevin Nguyen. In the profile, Frank delves into the mindset that guides his choices, tying the rise of the American publishing series to the passage of the GI bill. Sample quote: “Someone seeing a book he or she always loved next to a book he or she had never heard about would say, ‘Wait that’s the book I always loved and it’s back in print, maybe I should buy this one too.’”
“Why, hello there! — I was just appraising some rare PDFs in the back room when I heard you come in. Feel free to peruse our inventory, and if you have any questions, please allow me—one of the world’s foremost authorities on and purveyors of fine electronic books—to act as your steward through the wonderfully esoteric world of antique eBook collecting.”
We've recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. "And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs."
Sometimes, in a narrative, it’s necessary to focus on one scene, in one place, for as long as one possibly can. In his new graphic novel, Here, Richard McGuire takes this to an extreme, setting the entirety of the story in one corner of a character’s living room. In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews the new book.
Adonis, the great Syrian poet, has reproduced and adapted one of the ancient Muallaqat (The Suspended Odes) originally written by Zuhayr. The reproduction is hand-written on a scroll of paper, and then painted on, thereby “creating a new and contemporary interpretation of the text.”
"As much as there is an evergreen fascination for Christie’s stories, there's also an alluring air of mystery surrounding the woman herself." Broadly explores the enduring nature of Agatha Christie's stories, the recent surge in adaptations (including Murder on the Orient Express), and the mysterious 11-day disappearance of the writer herself. From our archives: an essay on the sometimes inherent predictability of the mystery genre.