Tuesday, November 23, 2010

E.B. White and a different pig

E.B. White writes about a pig that isn't named Wilbur, but is, nonetheless, some pig. 'I spent several days and nights in mid-September with an ailing pig and I feel driven to account for this stretch of time, more particularly since the pig died at last, and I lived, and things might easily have gone the other way round and none left to do the accounting.' More... (Via)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stay home this Friday

Amazon has already announced it's Black Friday sale items, or at least some of them. Thanks to Me and My Kindle for the tip. At the moment, by the way, they don't seem to be inclined to offer a sale price on the Kindle.

Mark Twain tops the bestseller list

Well, you knew that. The "new" autobiography is selling like crazy. Some of us, unstoppable Twain fans, will read it no matter what. Others might be wondering, what, exactly, made it so important to postpone publication for a hundred years. The book may seem beyond analysis, so it's nice to get a straightforward review for those who might be on the fence, like this one from the Telegraph.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Author websites

You can judge these for yourself. HuffPo has posted a list of seven favorites from their readers, and they're a varied, interesting bunch. They're looking for more, if you've got them.

National Book Awards

The awards ceremony was last night. GalleyCat has the details and a few extras.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

George S. Kaufman

The Library of America celebrates the playwright's birthday with a short piece on his working with the Marx Brothers ('We wrote two shows for them which, by the way, is two more than anybody should be asked to write'), and a very old video with a very funny Kaufman. 'We learned that when an audience does not laugh at a line at which they’re supposed to laugh, then the thing to do was to take out that line and get a funnier line. So help me, we didn’t know that before. I always thought it was the audience’s fault, or when the show got to New York they’d laugh.' More...

Monday, November 15, 2010

An early start on the best of 2010

Mary Ann Gwinn at the Seattle Times gives it a go. 'Last week I got three best-of lists: from the retail giant Amazon.com; from Library Journal (magazine for the library profession) and Publishers Weekly (magazine for the publishing profession). May I just say that librarians think differently from retailers? ... So I mushed all these lists together, to give you an early look at books that have achieved some consensus that they are really, really good.' More...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

John D. MacDonald

Roger Ebert is nowadays one of the great presences on Twitter (@ebertchicago). And he just recently pointed followers to a piece he had written in 1976, a profile of the writer John D. MacDonald. It's nice to drop in again on the creator of Travis McGee. 'In 1945, his sixth year in the Army, John D. MacDonald sent a short story home to his wife. She typed it up and submitted it to Story magazine, which bought it for $25. "1 thought that was pretty damned good," MacDonald recalls. "I figured, hell, if I could sell about four stories a week, I could live pretty well."' More...

Unfinished Chabon novel

We learned from GalleyCat that one of our favorite authors, Michael Chabon, will be publishing in an upcoming edition of McSweeney's the first four chapters of a novel he abandoned in 1992 entitled Fountain City. That should be worth checking out. And for that matter, if you're unaware of McSweeney's, it's worth checking out on its own, Michael Chabon or no Michael Chabon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Profile of Leo Tolstoy from 1891

The Atlantic Monthly has been around for a long time. Long enough, in fact, to have published a profile of Count Leo while he was still alive. 'The count, who had been mowing, appeared at dinner in a grayish blouse and trousers and a soft white linen cap. He looked even more weather-beaten in complexion than he had in Moscow during the winter, if that were possible. His broad shoulders seemed to preserve in their enhanced stoop a memory of recent toil. His manner, a combination of gentle simplicity, awkward half-conquered consciousness, and half-discarded polish, was as cordial as ever. His piercing gray-green-blue eyes had lost none of their almost saturnine and withal melancholy expression.' More...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Gettysburg Address

In my travels on the internet looking for articles, occasionally I find something out of our realm but so amazing that it's worth sharing anyhow. This video of the Gettysburg Address is that kind of article. Prepare to be moved.

T. S. Eliot

It would seem as if the master poet was, in his day, the most popular writer in the world, or at least the best known. How many people can even name a poet working today? A review of a book of Eliot's letters provides some great background. 'Part of what makes Eliot’s literary career so impressive is that he achieved all he did, in effect, in nationality drag. He willed himself into an Englishman, which technically he became only in the year 1927, when he acquired British citizenship. After attending one of Eliot’s readings in New York in 1933, the critic Edmund Wilson wrote to the novelist John Dos Passos: “He is an actor and really put on a better show than Shaw. . . . He gives you the creeps a little at first because he is such a completely artificial, or, rather, self-invented character . . . but he has done such a perfect job with himself that you end up admiring him.” ' More... (Via)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And now for something completely different

I don't know what this performance is from, but it's prime John Cleese and Connie Booth in a bookstore skit. Link.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Young Detective Zora

This was a surprising—and welcome—article in today's NY Times. 'Where is the black version of Caddie Woodlawn (a 19th-century Wisconsin tomboy) or Harriet the Spy (a 20th-century Upper East Sider), smart, spunky, fictional heroines for the tween crowd? Tanya Simon, a literary agent, asked herself that question while pregnant with her daughter, now 4. She answered by reaching back in time to Zora Neale Hurston, a canonical Harlem Renaissance writer, and imagining her as a girl detective.' More...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Behind the covers

HuffPo does a piece on what they call some of the coolest book covers of the year. They go behind the scenes, talking to the designer and authors about the why of them. It's a good article. Link.