“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
“She was to me and so many poets an exemplary and inimitable figure. And I mean to emphasize the tension between ‘exemplary’ and ‘inimitable’—what her example taught us was the necessity of going our own way, of being one with others.” Ben Lerner remembers C.D. Wright, who passed away earlier this week.
I didn’t expect to find a Chinese poem more ornate than Su Hui’s palindromic, pre-oulipan “Xuanji Tu,” but apparently I underestimated myself. Here’s “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den,” a 92-character poem by Yuen Ren Chao which relies on the tonal variations of a single sound (shi) to tell the story of a “lion addict” with a taste for big cats. For a really crazy experience, I recommend listening to the poem being read aloud.
Lydia Millet’s most recent novel, Magnificence, is the third in a trilogy, and a reminder of what a significant body of work she’s been building over the last decade. The Point offers the best overview of that work you’re likely to find anywhere. Millet’s “equal parts” Ben Marcus and Jonathan Franzen, writes Tom Dibblee, “but really she’s her own thing.”
Experience “THE POWER OF BOOKS“You know those annoying puzzles where you type in the letters so the computer knows you’re not a computer creating a fake account or sending spam? A group from Carnegie Mellon is using these “Captchas” to help digitize books. ReCaptcha is a special type of Captcha that displays words that book digitization software is having trouble deciphering. So, by letting the computer know you’re not a computer, you can help some other computers digitize our books.I missed Junot Diaz’s appearance at the Free Library of Philadelphia where he read from his new novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but Season Evans was there.
“Others may prefer to will themselves into James Bond’s dinner jacket and Aston Martin DB4, but I’d rather slip into a !Kung hunter’s penis sheath and heft his hunting spear.” At The Guardian, Will Self explores his odd preference for deeply uncomfortable comfort reading.
The Washington Post discusses the literary pedigree of the town where I was born, went to college, and got married.A good review of Jonathan Lethem’s new collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist in the New York Observer.Got a nice note from Ulrich Baer, editor and translator of a new book put out by the Modern Library called The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke. Sound interesting. Have a look.Why we blog.