“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Friday, April 29, 2011

Literary Links: A Brief History of the Future

Here’s an awesome video of what people in 1994 thought the future of tablet computing would like (via dvice). Surprisingly, it looks like . . . a tablet:
• Sergio De La Pava's second novel, Personae, is out now! It appears to be another (very, very literary) take on the crime novel, with the book comprising an extremely unusual police report. Read a sample and then buy the book!
• Over at one of my favourite literary blogs, Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito takes apart a (very) bad review of Wallace’s The Pale King, but also offers a great incidental discussion of the too-limited way in which reviewers discuss a book’s ‘emotional content’: ‘Why impoverish the idea of emotionality in literature by pigeonholing it into something like “a round character whose pain you can identify with”? To take just one example, I find Sebald to be an amazingly emotional read for the fact that he so expertly evokes the sensation of nostalgia (among others), despite having nothing resembling conventional “emotionality” in any of his books. Even if you were to admit that Wallace was cerebral to the point of ignoring character–and anyone who has read him at all knows that’s not the case–there are other ways his books could have been emotional.’
Overland on why we should read more literature in translation. Here’s one reason: it tends to be way better than the stuff that passes for literature in the Anglophone world. Oh, and you might learn something about other cultures, too.
• Penguin has introduced a new crowd-sourcing service (which is masquerading as a social-networking site). What is crowd-sourcing, you ask? Well, read Jenny Lee’s great (and appropriately critical) article on the subject.
• Who knew Samuel Beckett was a PR machine?
• Lastly, we’re starting to get some interesting data on price and sales of ebooks on the Kindle. Quick quiz: which band had the highest growth since December? Answer: books under $2.99. Ah, yes, glad to see that the agency model is ‘working’ (if by ‘working’ you mean sacrificing market share to new players in the market). I’ve just written an article on this subject that should be out later this year, so I don’t want to say too much, but we’re going to start hearing a lot more about this soon, and it’s not going to be pretty . . .


K MacC said...

Hear, hear for reading translations. I've found them to occupy my top favourite spots in the 28 books I'm reading ... with Kadare's 'Agamemnon's Daughter' and Rodoreda's 'The Time of the Doves' notably amazing works. Of course, I did opt to read classics.

This event with Rodney Hall on translators was great I hear (which I sadly missed, but for a good reason).

Emmett Stinson said...

Yes, I couldn't agree more, and your articles on Literary Minded about your favourite books from around the world are excellent (and have introduced me to a great many titles I didn't know). I think World Literature is addictive: once you realise how much truly great stuff is out there just waiting to be read, it becomes all that you want to read . . .

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