Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Theme: Books

  • The Poet, who made Chairman Mao’s red-braised pork for supper last night, so I am not entitled to complain about anything, has a dark side. Before he was an academic he was a book dealer. He gave up book dealing but not the books. We live in a terraced house which backs on to the railway line. These houses were all railway worker’s cottages. They have tiny rooms and steep staircases. They are lovely, well-built but must have been cramped even with a smallish family living in them. Read more
  • French symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé lived in culturally unsettled times. Bicycle riding had become fashionable, newspaper reading was up, and the book trade was undergoing a crisis of identity. But all this was logs to the fire for Mallarmé, who held a literary salon in his home on Tuesday evenings, where he and other poets discussed the arts during a long evening capped off with a monologue delivered by Mallarmé himself. Read more
  • Many books have been written about the future of the book, but the truth is that we still know little about the subject. The upshot of this paradoxical loop: the book has a glorious past and an unsettling present but, as for its future, we have no clear outlook, for the simple reason that it remains ungraspable.Read more
  • In the first place, I want to emphasise the note of interrogation at the end of my title. Even if I could answer the question for myself, the answer would apply only to me and not to you. The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions.Read more
  • An editor, a person of authority and supposed discretion, requested a friend of mine, the other day, to write an essay with this weird title: “How to Read a Book of Poems so as to Get the Most Good out of It.” My friend, “more than usual calm,” politely excused himself, suffering the while from suppressed oratory.Read more
  • In a short piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Ditch the Monograph,” Jennifer Howard surveys some recent experiments by university presses to cultivate and produce shorter-form e-books (i.e., Princeton Shorts and Stanford Briefs),1 and wonders if these books might not “pull in new readers for serious scholarship,” and at a time, moreover, when “academic libraries have ever-smaller amounts of money and space to lavish on [longer] books, which often have more pages than they have readers.”Read more
  • Ignorance is degrading only when found in company with riches. The poor man is restrained by poverty and need: labor occupies his thoughts, and takes the place of knowledge. But rich men who are ignorant live for their lusts only, and are like the beasts of the field; as may be seen every day: and they can also be reproached for not having used wealth and leisure for that which gives them their greatest value.Read more
  • In his fiction, Irvine Welsh asks how we can sustain a sense of community in a culture where pursuit of self-interest is proclaimed as the dominant virtue. Skagboys, the new prequel to Trainspotting, takes issue with the spiritual legacy of Thatcherism.Read more
  • What use is this book, which asks us to enlarge our ideas about the possible uses of books? According to its author, Leah Price, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain can “help us understand the printed ‘before’ against which so many twenty-first century commentators measure their digital ‘after’”.Read more
  • A selection of shredded book art sculptures by Jukhee Kwon.Read more
  • “In order to transform publishing into a less crisis-bound, short-term-oriented system, we must end capitalism,” according to Andrew Goldstone’s – and my – friend, Colin Gillis, a member of the staff collective at the radical co-op, Rainbow Bookstore, located in Madison, WI. Read more
  • Bought, sold, exchanged, transported, displayed, defaced, stored, ignored, collected, neglected, dispersed, discarded—the transactions that enlist books stretch far beyond the literary or even the linguistic. Frustration first made me wonder where that range begins and ends, for among all those uses, reading elicits the most curiosity and leaves the least evidence.Read more
  • Heavenly Breakfast (1979) is a confessedly idealized account of a Lower East Side Manhattan commune that lasted through the winter of 1967-1968 -- Delany writes, “At the Breakfast I learned to move within the circle of other people's desire, and be at ease as I generated my own. And I would strike one of my senses before I would part with that knowledge.” Read more
  • I have always lived in this neighborhood [Morningside Heights]. I’ve always had my own place, I don’t think I could do roommates. I moved to New York in 1987, and it was a lot easier back then.Read more
  • What are the eras of publishing history? Are they literary eras? I’d like to expand on our discussion of John Thompson’s sociology of contemporary publishing by posing some literary-historical questions. In his post on Thompson, Lee Konstantinou framed some questions about contemporary book publication and promotion which Merchants of Culture can help us to ask. Read more
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