Bites: Phone Booth Libraries, The Cows that Killed Jane Austen, Cormac McCarthy to Sell the Remains of His Writing Career, A Remnick Interview, and more

You know how England has much nicer looking phone booths than we do?  Well it’d naturally be a shame to let those go to waste.  In Somerset, a lending library! Lit. Jane Austen may have died from a strain of TB caught from cows. Jonathan Littell won Literary Review‘s Bad Sex in Fiction prize. Ugh, England’s got us beat all over the place today.  Margaret Atwood’s new cover redesigns from Virago are sweet. Stendhal enters the digital age. Cormac McCarthy […]

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Bites: Best Book Covers, “Bush-League Method acting,” Social Thuggery, and More

Enough with the literary-merit top 10 lists.  Here are the best book covers of 2009.  I personally love the look of Ruben Toledo’s designs, but not at all for the books they represent.  An awkward confluence of visionary tones.  Who imagines their literary heroines with such artistic flair?  It’s unsettling. Lit. & Academia City University of New York dean Ann Kirschner recently read Little Dorrit four different ways (paperback, Kindle, iPhone, audiobook).  This week, she talks about it on NPR. […]

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Bites: Dirty Dancing the Holidays Away, Let’s Blame Oprah!, Writing That’s Too Good, and More

TV Guide channel is hosting a Dirty Dancing holiday marathon.  Why?  …Because it’s NOT It’s a Wonderful Life. Film and the Holidays Slate’s piece on “The Best Vehicles for Pumpkin” is disappointing.  They forgot oatmeal. I just watched A Room with a View the other day, in which Daniel Day-Lewis plays Cecil, a pretentious “Edwardian prig.”  And then! Here’s More Intelligent Life‘s best-of Day-Lewis’ CV. Gawker wants your Thanksgiving horror stories. In Norway, though, someone has deliberately destroyed a 650-house […]

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Bites: Shakespeare and Company’s New Art, Pushing the Literary “Limits,” Interesting Interviews, and more

Paris’ historic Shakespeare and Company Bookstore (no relation to Shakespeare & Co. in NY) has a new mural!  Artist Badaude, who has a charming, unpretentious website that makes me want to see the mural even more, is interviewed at BOMB Magazine, and the article includes a slide show of the new work. Elsewhere, Abroad Historic photos of the Orient have been exhibited at the Hamburg Museum of Ethnology in Germany, where they have been stored, forgotten, for decades. PEN American […]

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Reviewed: The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

We don’t translate much in this country. When we do, though, what we choose usually shows pretty decent promise, naturally. While I’ll always root for more translations, it’s hard not to appreciate at least occasionally the natural sieve of the choosiness of what United States publishers choose to translate. It can be nice not to wade through (much) dredge for decent contemporary novels. Juan Gabriel Vasquez’ The Informers, which tells of a small-scale familial conflict within one of a grander weaving, betraying history, is the best “new” book I’ve reviewed all year.

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Like Yoga for a Book: “The Complex of All Things”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9a5hH5idQc] This is beautiful.  From Jacket Copy and Coudal Partners, a video in 3,000 photos of the creation of 35 handcrafted copies of one woman’s book, “The Complex of All Things.” Though I’m not one to harp on the death of print (not to be confused with the death of print corporations, plz), the intricacy of this process is astounding and my head newly spins at the thought of Google Books, Twitter fests, and micro-blogging and I want to holler, […]

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Bites: Winston Churchill’s Valuable Complaints, Searls Edits Walden, Brownstein Questions Thurston Moore, and more

Sometimes halting eloquence doesn’t fare well when you’re trying to make a complaint.  Winston Churchill faced such a problem at this Scottish hotel, where his letter of misgivings is proudly mounted for guests to see.  I’m hoping that, in addition to showcasing Churchill’s disappointments, they not only addressed their bug problem but started serving lunch food as well.  After all, what distinguished person eats pancakes at mid-day?  For crying out loud, Scotland. Lit. & The Internet Bolaño explains life, naturally […]

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