Look out, Darwin — Wolfe’s coming for you. Tom Wolfe’s new book, The Kingdom of Speech, which we reviewed a couple of days ago, takes aim at Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky: “Like an industrial engineer who also makes bespoke dueling pistols in his shed on the weekends, Mr. Wolfe has made a side career of skirmishing with the eminati (his term) in an array of cultural fields. If fighting enlivens one’s mornings, Mr. Wolfe has had little need of caffeine.”
“Last week, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced that it had commissioned thirty-six playwrights to translate all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English. The backlash began immediately.” The New Yorker on why we don’t change Shakespeare’s language. You could also check out our traditional and modern readings of Shakespeare.
Amazon is battling the multi-platform capabilities of Google’s new ebookstore with its new “Kindle for the Web.” The demo makes it look pretty easy on the eyes. Kindle books were already accessible on a number of mobile platforms. What’s new here is taking the Kindle capabilities to the PC.
The sports world lost a legend this week in Joe Frazier. In honor of Smokin’ Joe’s indelible mark on the sport of boxing, Byliner has gathered thirteen great stories on the sweet science. Also worth reading is George Plimpton‘s classic Sports Illustrated story on the Frazier vs. George Foreman fight in Kingston.
Happy Freedom Day: The work at the center of all the reviews, magazine covers, and even, of course, controversy, has arrived. Jonathan Franzen’s long-awaited novel Freedom hits shelves today. Our review. Also out today is Booker longlister Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. Another newly translated Roberto Bolaño is out, The Insufferable Gaucho. As is You Were Wrong by Jamestown author Matthew Sharpe. Finally, fashion fans will dig vintage Japanese prepster handbook Take Ivy.
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.
“The peace may be holding, but the process is faltering,” writes Colum McCann, forty years after the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, in his evaluation of Ireland’s present relationship with the “Troubles.” “It is, of course, naïve to expect total reconciliation,” he continues. “Some grievances are so deep that the people who suffered them will never be satisfied. But the point is not satisfaction — the point is that the present is superior to the past, and it has to be cultivated as such.”
“We aim to foster a review culture where all genders can write about all topics and be met with equitable coverage.” Launched last year by a group of McGill University students, Just Review is an advocacy project that aims to help publications combat gender bias in the literary and publishing worlds. Would that this weren’t such an evergreen subject.