When life wears us down, great stories give us back our human shape.

Tags: lit reading

A town without bookstores is like a town without churches or bars. Minus the hymnals and happy-hour specials, the best bookshops are vital community centers where patrons can gather, share ideas, and have grand revelations or quiet discoveries. When Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, began to fail, it tapped into the strength of its community with an inspired idea: cooperative ownership.

Last spring, rather than shuttering its doors, Buffalo Street Books sold shares of the independent shop to 600-plus local “co-owners,” raising more than $250,000, reports Christina Palassio in This Magazine. Less than a year later, the co-op bookstore is thriving.

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"Written Portraits" is a series of books which shows the different faces, literally, behind the selected autobiographies. The book pictured above is about Anne Frank. (via Designboom)

"Written Portraits" is a series of books which shows the different faces, literally, behind the selected autobiographies. The book pictured above is about Anne Frank. (via Designboom)

Are there any words that you just hate? Maybe it’s the way they  sound, or how often they’re said, or how everyone always uses them out  of context. My ears start turning red whenever someone describes a  situation with possible unintended consequences as a “slippery slope.”  “Irregardless” is an old pet-peeve. And don’t get me started on music  writers who use “psychedelic” to mean “weird” and “loud.”
That’s why I’m thankful for the faculty at Lake Superior State  University in Michigan, who collectively are one of the few vanguards of  the English language—not culture warriors, but cultured warriors. “37th-annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness,” a list that LSSU cheekily describes as “an amazing list that is bound to generate some blowback.”
Censorship is only fun when it’s well deserved …

Are there any words that you just hate? Maybe it’s the way they sound, or how often they’re said, or how everyone always uses them out of context. My ears start turning red whenever someone describes a situation with possible unintended consequences as a “slippery slope.” “Irregardless” is an old pet-peeve. And don’t get me started on music writers who use “psychedelic” to mean “weird” and “loud.”

That’s why I’m thankful for the faculty at Lake Superior State University in Michigan, who collectively are one of the few vanguards of the English language—not culture warriors, but cultured warriors. “37th-annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness,” a list that LSSU cheekily describes as “an amazing list that is bound to generate some blowback.”

Censorship is only fun when it’s well deserved …

The Literary Man Cave: 
In theory, we love the idea of the newly debuted Man Cave.  Hosted by Adams Media, it’s  an online bookstore targeted directly at  male readers and those who buy gifts for them, according to Publishers Weekly.  How perfect!
“Men tend to be the most challenging people to shop for,” says  an Adams Media marketer. And the Man Cave site boasts of having the  solution: “Yes, guys do read—they like it, in fact. It’s here that  you’ll find the perfect gift for the man in your life.” But check out  the selection of titles: How Do You Light a Fart?, 100 Sexiest Women in Comics, and Sweet ’Stache: 50 Badass Mustaches and the Faces Who Sport Them, to name just a few.
Ahh … so they didn’t mean literary novels and memoirs that might  appeal to not-big-reader guys. They meant gifty books that nobody  really wants but that are stamped “For Guys.” Books about farts and  mustaches. You know, the book equivalent of a tie printed with golf  tees.
What would you suggest for a real literary man cave?

The Literary Man Cave:

In theory, we love the idea of the newly debuted Man Cave. Hosted by Adams Media, it’s  an online bookstore targeted directly at male readers and those who buy gifts for them, according to Publishers Weekly. How perfect!

“Men tend to be the most challenging people to shop for,” says an Adams Media marketer. And the Man Cave site boasts of having the solution: “Yes, guys do read—they like it, in fact. It’s here that you’ll find the perfect gift for the man in your life.” But check out the selection of titles: How Do You Light a Fart?, 100 Sexiest Women in Comics, and Sweet ’Stache: 50 Badass Mustaches and the Faces Who Sport Them, to name just a few.

Ahh … so they didn’t mean literary novels and memoirs that might appeal to not-big-reader guys. They meant gifty books that nobody really wants but that are stamped “For Guys.” Books about farts and mustaches. You know, the book equivalent of a tie printed with golf tees.

What would you suggest for a real literary man cave?

Tags: lit men gifts

Literary Execution: In a piece published by The American Conservative in September, author John Rodden encourages readers to revisit “A Hanging,” a moving, first-person story about the public execution of an unidentified Indian man in Burma. Published in 1931, the 2,000 word essay proved to be literary breakthrough for a 28-year-old author named Eric  Blair—who, two years later, would adopt the pen name George Orwell.
Keep reading …

Literary Execution: In a piece published by The American Conservative in September, author John Rodden encourages readers to revisit “A Hanging,” a moving, first-person story about the public execution of an unidentified Indian man in Burma. Published in 1931, the 2,000 word essay proved to be literary breakthrough for a 28-year-old author named Eric Blair—who, two years later, would adopt the pen name George Orwell.

Keep reading …

The Art of Creative Uncreativity

Consider these page-turners for your next beach vacation: a transcription of all the weather reports from a radio news station recorded over one year, a re-typed issue of The New York Times, a chronicle of the utterances made by one person for an entire week, a similar account of every bodily gesture the same man made over the course of 13 hours, or 600 pages worth of words with rhyming r-sounds. Understandably, you’re probably not tacking these texts onto the bottom of your holiday wish list, much less considering them as notable for anything other than how boring they sound. But Kenneth Goldsmith—an avant-garde poet, experimental radio personality, and professor—considers these litanies to be poetry. In fact, the list is a small sampling of his published works.

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Publisher’s Weekly Names “Worst Book Ever”: Before you get all riled up about how we’ve previously called two other books (How to Avoid Huge Ships and Dildo Cay)  the Worst Book Ever, you should know that sometimes PWxyz makes  mistakes. Please forgive us our mis-pronouncement and come, walk with us  down the hallowed halls of literary infamy, for we have a whopper of a  book to show you.
In 1987, The Book Services Ltd published a slim, 144-page cookbook called Microwave for One. The book is by Sonia Allison, who has quite a few publications under her belt. But she’s best known for her masterpiece of tragedy, a  book whose title and cover is so rife with sadness that one almost has  the urge to brush the invisible tears from Ms. Allison’s face as she  leans over her microwave and her food spread. (via PWxyz)

Publisher’s Weekly Names “Worst Book Ever”: Before you get all riled up about how we’ve previously called two other books (How to Avoid Huge Ships and Dildo Cay) the Worst Book Ever, you should know that sometimes PWxyz makes mistakes. Please forgive us our mis-pronouncement and come, walk with us down the hallowed halls of literary infamy, for we have a whopper of a book to show you.

In 1987, The Book Services Ltd published a slim, 144-page cookbook called Microwave for One. The book is by Sonia Allison, who has quite a few publications under her belt. But she’s best known for her masterpiece of tragedy, a book whose title and cover is so rife with sadness that one almost has the urge to brush the invisible tears from Ms. Allison’s face as she leans over her microwave and her food spread. (via PWxyz)

Melvyn Bragg writes that John Steinbeck’s novel “seems as savage as ever … It is just as alive, with its fine anger against the banks: ‘The bank - the monster - has to have profit all the time. It can’t wait … It’ll die when the monster stops growing. It can’t stay in one place’.”

(via The Guardian)

"

One of the most obvious was not to do minor or silly books. That’s a really strange injunction if you look at literary history because most every novelist we accord major prestige did all sorts of things. The only way for me to obey, “OK, now you’re major: Stay major!” was to only write books as long, sorrowful and widescreen as “The Fortress of Solitude.”

It was a really meaningless injunction for me, but it was certainly there. I guess I frivolously — and some would say hopelessly — tried to negotiate with that by doing other kinds of books.

"

— Jonathan Lethem on the constraints of being a “major” author. (via Salon)