The 1.5 million people who live in the Bronx lack a general interest bookstore, classifying their borough as one of a growing number of “book deserts” across the country. To combat this trend, the National Book Foundation just launched “The Book Rich Environment Initiative.” Meanwhile, Juma’a Ali runs a popular bookshop in a UN-administered refugee camp near the South Sudanese city of Malakal.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Some very cool Hunter S. Thompson photography showing now at an LA gallery. The show coincides with a pricey new "collector's edition" book that "presents a rare look into the life of Thompson." (via)Another most literate cities list has arrived. In 2006, Seattle wins, with Minneapolis second. My hometown Washington, DC, is tied for third and LA, where I lived when I started this blog, is eighth. The last two cities I've lived in, Chicago (39th) and, now, Philadelphia (tied for 33rd), fail to crack the top ten. Not sure what conclusions I can draw about that, but USA Today draws its own conclusions in an article about the list.Somebody gets into Gwenda's garbage, her papers fly everywhere, and before you know it, she's cought in a "indie movie scene wrought with ironic symbolism." Brilliant.Lesser-Known Editing and Proofreading Marks. Also Brilliant. (via Languagehat)On a more serious note, Tim O'Reilly explains why the book search efforts of Google, et al, are broken. The problem is that we must search in Google's (or Yahoo's) walled garden. There is no way to search across all of the books that have been digitized, which is very much at odds with our experience on the Web, where we can search everything at once.
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“The short story is an odd form, forever dying out or undergoing a revival, impossible to define, sometimes seeming to be united by being nothing more than a text which happens to occupy around thirty pages or less: novels for people who can’t be arsed reading novels. Yet the best stories in both of these books show what the form is capable of: the world reflected in a puddle, the light gleaming for an instant, fireflies.” C.D. Rose reviews New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus, for 3:AM Magazine.
Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.