It’s that time of the week wherein I remind you about the hilarious series over at Electric Literature, “Ted Wilson Reviews the World.” This week, Ted tries his best to remain impartial while reviewing that one sneeze he had: “The sneeze I had came on so quickly I didn’t have time to put my hand over my face and the spray went everywhere. It made me wish I had been standing over a salad bar so there would have been a sneeze guard handy. That’s why if I’m about to sneeze at Olive Garden I immediately sprint for the salad bar.”
Amazon announced a new crop of digital reading devices today – bringing their lineup to seven in total. The new $119 Kindle Paperwhite features an “ambient light” display, an eight-week battery life, and adjustable fonts; the 3G version will retail for $179. A new Kindle Fire HD starts at $199 — and one with an 8.9″ display starts at $299. Meanwhile the standard Kindle has dropped in price to $69, and the standard Kindle Fire is down to $159. Additionally, Jeff Bezos announced the debut of a new $1.99 Kindle Serials program: customers can buy a serial once, and seamlessly receive all future installments as they come out. The full rundown of announcements (including this mind-blowing chart) can be found on The Verge‘s liveblog.
I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of Emdashes’ Ask the New Yorker Librarians series.Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Franzen’s new memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani’s wrath filled pen aside, Ed explains why she’s right, and I have to agree. I looked back through the archives here and realized I hadn’t elaborated on it much beyond writing back in 2003 that “Franzen’s non-fiction bugs the heck out of me,” but it put me off enough that I avoided reading The Corrections for a long time because of it.Speaking of reviews, it’s a good thing Bob Dylan didn’t get the Franzen treatment. He tells contactmusic.com that while he doesn’t care about music reviews, the reviews for Chronicles Vol. 1 meant a lot to him: “Most people who write about music, they have no idea what if feels like to play it, but, with the book I wrote, I thought, ‘The people who are writing reviews of this book, man, they know what the hell they’re talking about. They know how to write a book, they know more about it than me.’ The reviews of this book, some of ’em almost made me cry – in a good way. I’d never felt that from a music critic, ever.”Even though it seems like there’s another “book banning” story in the news every week, the AP reports that the 405 challenges reported to the American Library Association last year is the smallest number since they started keeping track in the early 1980s. The challenges have dropped by more than half since the ALA started Banned Books Week to promote free expression. Kudos to the librarians.The second most brilliant magazine in the world (refer to the top item in this list for the first), The Economist has a characteristically well-considered a piece on the newspaper industry’s timid efforts to embrace the Internet. Thanks to Millions contributor Andrew for sending this along.
“Ms. Hazzard’s fiction is dense with meaning, subtle in implication and tense in plot, often with disaster looming: A shipwreck tears away the parents of tiny children. A man who has waited a lifetime for a woman loses her at the last moment.” Novelist Shirley Hazzard, whose several books – including The Transit of Venus and the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire – received much acclaim, has died at 85, reports The New York Times. Also worth reading, her “Art of Fiction” interview with The Paris Review from 2005.