Thursday, February 28, 2013

8 Absolutely Ridiculous Ways Comic Book Characters Have Been Brought Back to Life

The list, care of The Week.

From said list...

1. Bucky BarnesThe demise of Captain America sidekick Bucky Barnes was originally introduced via flashback, and Bucky's death was a vital part of Captain America's character. Our hero long struggled to deal with his guilt over failing to prevent the boy's death — guilt that turned out to be misplaced. More than four decades later, it was revealed that a brainwashed Bucky had been operating as a Soviet assassin called the Winter Solider all along. Since his resurrection as the Winter Solider, Bucky has actually been "killed off" and come back again, with his apparent death in 2011's "Fear Itself" arc later revealed to have been prevented by an injection of something called infinity formula.

9 Best Fight Scenes in Literature

The list, care of the Huffington Post.

The Cats of Illustrator Louis Wain


The Weight of Books

David Ulin, for the Los Angeles Times, discusses the physical presence of books.

From the piece...

She’s right, my wife — the books are taking over the house, as they have taken over every house in which I’ve ever lived. Since childhood, I’ve been both reader and collector, not just defining but, in the most tangible sense imaginable, framing my world through books.

Yes, books are about the interior journey, the fluid back-and-forth between writer and reader, reader and writer, the interplay upon which literature depends. This is one of the best things about them, their insistence that we can only be enlarged, illuminated, by entering the imagination of another, which, in turn, inhabits ours.

And yet, there is another side of books, their physical presence: the sheer weight of all those volumes, the space they occupy. When I look at my books, arrayed from room to room now in their pleasing order, what I see are not just the ideas or narratives they represent but themselves as manifestations of my life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Legends of the Knight" - a Batman Documentary

Portlandia on Parenting Books

The Civil War: A Photographic Reenactment

Turning the famous photos of the Civil War into color.

From a piece on the Smithsonian...

The photographs taken by masters such as Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner have done much for the public’s perception of the Civil War. But all of their work is in black and white. The battlefield of Gettysburg is remembered as a shade of grey and the soldiers as ghostly daguerreotype images. Photography was in its infancy during the time and colorizing photographs was rare and often lacked the detail of modern imagery.

John C. Guntzelman is changing that; he’s created an accurate colorized portrayal of the Civil War. In The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States, Guntzeman tediously colorized hundreds of photos covering every aspect of the war.

Why did you choose to colorize Civil War photos as opposed to photos from another era?
The idea for this book came up when my wife and I were on vacation in Maui. This was back very late in 2007 and she was reading a book about the Civil War. We were both aware the Civil War sesquicentennial was on the horizon and somehow the idea came about to gather photographs dealing with the Civil War and colorize those.

12 Beautiful Poems for Book Lovers

The poems, care of Flavorwire.

From said list...

There is no Frigate like a Book (1286)
By Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Emerging "New Adult" Book Genre

8 Gross Superpowers Superman Doesn't Even Realize He Has

The list, care of io9.

From said list...

4. Sneezing

This is actually one of Superman's bodily functions we have evidence for! See, when a regular human sneezes, he/she expels up to 40,000 droplets of snot at over 100mph. So what would you expect if Superman's sneezed? Work as a powerful shotgun blast? Cover his opponents with sticky but unbreakable piles of snot? Knock over nearby structures? Nope.


This is an actual panel from Action Comics #273, in which Mr. Mxyzptlk drops a ton of sneezing powder on all of Metropolis, and Superman has to leave our entire goddamn dimension and find another dimension with no one living in it to sneeze in. WHICH ANNIHILATED AN ENTIRE SUN AND ALL OF ITS PLANETS. Healing tears seem pretty reasonable now, don't they?

But: No buts. The man sneezed and destroyed a goddamn universe. There's absolutely no use handing him a Kleenex. Oh, and in case you're wondering why this is on a list of powers Superman doesn't know he has, I guarantee to you in the new 52 he's forgotten this little event (and because it's completely awesome).

The Library

Got Football Withdrawl?

Here are some football books to tide you over to next season.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Soliloquies in Macbeth

Sleaze Lit

The Washington Times takes a look at those celebrity tell-alls, trashing the dead.

From the piece...

I slept with Marilyn Monroe.

Can you prove otherwise? That’s right. You can’t, and that’s my point.

Or, as they’d say around my home, “Too much information, Dad.”

I say the same about books that keep coming out about dead celebrities, told by people who were intimate with them, or so they say.

I do not need all that information.

Let me depart from books for a second to talk about a film that was made for HBO about Hemingway and Gellhorn, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman. This was okay as these specials go, but I did not need those sex scenes, and I turned my head when I knew what was coming, a momentary glimpse of Owen’s back end, meant to convey Hemingway in heat, in addition to his posterior.
Thank you, but I don’t need that about an American legend. Nor do I need all those tell-alls that defame the reputations of people we revere and idolize.

Is this an American thing, this need to destroy our heroes? I call it Sleaze Lit.

Literature on Screen

The Wall Street Journal takes note of the rise of literature we're finding in TV and movies.

From the piece...

"Parade's End" may test viewers' appetites for highbrow fare at a time when HBO and other networks are snapping up literary rights. As Hollywood has increasingly shied away from difficult literary works in favor of blockbuster comic-book reboots and sequels, a growing number of novels are coming to television instead. Gary Shteyngart is adapting his dark futuristic satire "Super Sad True Love Story" as a cable series with Media Rights Capital, the independent studio behind the Netflix series "House of Cards." Showtime is developing a series based on Seth Greenland's comic novel "The Angry Buddhist."

HBO has a handful of novels in development, including works by William Faulkner, Jeffrey Eugenides's multigenerational family drama "Middlesex," Neil Gaiman's fantasy epic "American Gods" and Tom Perrotta's quiet dystopian novel "The Leftovers."

"You can make a really complex narrative for a sophisticated audience, which is sometimes hard to do in a feature-film world," says Mr. Perrotta, who is co-writing the script for "The Leftovers," about the aftermath of a Rapture-like mass disappearance, with "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.

Ansel Adams - Photographer

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Literary Oscar Quiz

Have fun!

W.H. Auden Documentary

The 10 Sexiest Books of All Time

The list, care of Flavorwire.

The Short Story Boom is Bogus

So says Salon.

From the post...

It is true that many online outlets are now selling short fiction to readers on a per-story basis; Kaufman mentions Amazon’s Kindle Singles program and Byliner, a company with which the Times launched an e-books publication program late last year. In the past, these outlets have been lauded as a new way to purvey long-form journalism: reported articles too long for many magazines but not quite as substantial as a traditional book. As a reviewer, I can attest that many nonfiction books read like padded magazine articles, and if writers can make a fair return on their investment of time, research expenses and expertise from these leaner, less expensive pieces (a big “if”), this is indeed a promising innovation. But at the moment, it’s not clear that they can.

Similarly, digital publishing could theoretically help the novella — a work of fiction somewhere between a short story and a novel in length — out of an awkward, between-bar-stools market gap; novellas are usually too short to publish economically as stand-alone print books but an ungainly fit in a story collection. The notably creative small press Melville House publishes a novella series to which readers can subscribe, receiving two titles per month in either digital or print form. (These are, however, novellas by well-known, usually long-dead authors like Joseph Conrad and Willa Cather, and presumably most are in the public domain.)

Still, the idea that such programs have led to renewed general interest in reading short stories is, like much of the Times article, speculative and fueled by wishful thinking. “The single-serving quality of a short narrative is the perfect art form for the digital age,” says one hopeful author, Amber Dermont, whose short story “A Splendid Wife” current ranks at No. 30,849 in the Kindle store. (Her novel, the recipient of a glowing front-page review in the New York Times Book Review last year, is at 14,880.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Classic Books You Should Actually Read

5 Best Rock-N-Roll Books

The list, care of the Daily Beast.

The Tragedy of Truman Capote

The Millions takes a look at his life.

From the post...

The only child of an alcoholic mother and a big-talking traveling salesman father who landed in jail for writing bad checks, Capote spent much of his early life with relatives in the rural South and never went to college. His only real job, a brief stint as a copyboy for the New Yorker, ended when he was fired for walking out of a reading at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference by poet Robert Frost, a frequent contributor to the magazine. Without an education or meaningful connections in the literary world, the man-child who sat waiting for the editors at Mademoiselle to read his work, and the young writer who turned out stories those editors couldn’t ignore, was entirely self-invented, which may help explain the high-strung tone and quirky subject matter of the early stories, which seem designed to shock the reader into attention as much as to entertain or edify.

This is certainly true of Other Voices, Other Rooms, a self-consciously lurid tale of 13-year-old Joel Knox who sets off in search of his missing father and ends up in a kind of Warner Brothers back-lot stage set of Southern-fried weirdness, all swamplands and ruined Gothic splendor. Other Voices would be a forgettable bauble of mid-century Southern fiction had its author not gone on to be Truman Capote, and were it not so revealing of the passions and demons that fueled his later work. The novel’s hero, a transparent stand-in for its author, has been effectively orphaned, and when asked to pray, is stumped:
[A]ll his prayers in the past had been simple concrete requests: God, give me a bicycle, a knife with seven blades, a box of oil paints. Only how, how, could you say something so indefinite, so meaningless as this: God, let me be loved.
This is the leitmotif for Capote’s entire life and career. All his characters wish only to be loved, and finding it impossible to be loved in any conventional way, seek love wherever they can find it, sometimes creatively, sometimes in ways that destroy themselves or others.

Susan Orlean - Why I Write

She talks about it for Utne.

From the piece...

Writing is all I’ve ever done. I don’t think of it as a profession. It’s just who I am.  

I write because I love learning about the world. I love telling stories, and I love the actual experience of making sentences. From age five or six, the earliest time I could imagine myself as a person with a job, being a writer was all I imagined I’d be. I’d fallen in love with the idea of stories—telling them and hearing them. I was enchanted. The only problem was that when it came time to leave college and have a profession, I thought, Jesus, how do you make it a job?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes in Real Life Settings


10 Essential Feminist Texts Everyone Should Read

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Mark David Chapman Letters Go to Auction

John Lennon's killer wrote letters from prison to police officer detailing obsession with J.D. Saligner's The Catcher in the Rye.
From a piece in the Guardian...

The letters are typed and signed by Chapman. They were written over several months in 1983, after he had pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

In the first letter, from 15 January 1983, Chapman says his reason for writing, besides wanting to be Spiro's friend, is to ask for help in locating his copy of The Catcher in The Rye, which he was reading at the time of his arrest.

"Have you read The Catcher in the Rye yet?" Chapman asks. "I would like you to read it and tell me what you think of it. As you remember, in the copy that was taken from me I had written 'This is my statement.'"

Spiro said he received the first letter at the Manhattan precinct where he worked and wrote Chapman back because he was hoping to get evidence on a possible hit list of other victims and people acting with Chapman.

Famous Movies That You Didn't Know Were Adapted from Books

The list, care of the Huffington Post.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lamp That's a Book

What Helps Students Retain Knowledge Better?

Graphic novels.

From a piece in Publisher's Weekly...

“It was exciting to verify what some would say was common sense but some naysayers would say was the opposite of commons sense,” he says of the study. Although the Atlas Black books have found an audience, they have also drawn many critics of the form. “I was shocked at how opposed a certain minority seemed to be to this format. The pencil, ball-point ben, chalkboard, and computer are all innovations that educators scoffed at when they were first introduced. I hope the graphic novel can be added to that list of educational tools that seem foolish to bemoan in hindsight.

“Our study suggests that graphic story telling can serve as a powerful tool in higher education compared to the traditional textbook,” he continues. “My experiences suggest that such evidence is useful in convincing folks in higher education that can be slow to warm to somewhat unorthodox instructional methods.”

Although Short’s study is the first of its kind, it is part of an emerging field of study on how verbal/visual blends affect learning and cognition.

Ingmar Bergman - Novelist?


From a piece on Slate...

“I have maintained open channels with my childhood.  Sometimes in the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I can just go through a door into my childhood… I remember the silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the tension between my father and mother.”

Bergman told Michiko Kakutani the above for a Times Magazine profile in 1983, but I read the quote first in his obituary, which is where I also learned that, in addition to leaving behind nearly fifty films, he’d written three novels in his lifetime.  At the heart of this trilogy—written between 1990 and 1994, after he officially retired from directing—is his parents’ tumultuous courtship, and the ensuing long but unhappy marriage.  In the first installment, titled The Best Intentions, we are introduced to Henrik Bergman, a twenty-three year old divinity student.  Things aren’t going so well for young Henrik: in the opening scene of the book, he refuses to make amends with his dying grandmother, then fails his oral exams, knowing that his mother cannot afford to pay for the extra six months of schooling incurred.  On top of this, he has a sweet but simple fiancée, a big-bosomed waitress named Frida, but although they’ve been betrothed for two years and living together for almost as long, he hasn’t told anyone about her.  All Henrik’s struggles might be looked on as surmountable by a normal fellow, but a normal fellow Henrik is not.  No, Henrik is self-pitying, awkward, often unsympathetic, and moody.  As the narrator puts it, “[Henrik] lived in a mire of his own constraints and other people’s expectations.”  (It’s likely that the real-life Ingmar, who was estranged from his father for years, inherited his fader’s dyspepsia; in interviews, he often said he was a “humorless” child.)

Teen Poetry Revolution

The internet is abuzz with teen poets. The Guardian investigates.

From the piece...

"Many teenagers can be very self-conscious, and afraid to be themselves or show their emotions to people close to them. I know that I was initially very nervous about showing my poetry to my family, for fear that it wasn't good enough, or that they wouldn't like it," says Meyer. "But with an account online, anyone can post poetry, and let out emotions that they don't want others to know about, or write poetry that they felt wasn't good enough to show to others. On the internet, it doesn't matter if your poetry is dreadful, because most likely, the only people who are going to read it are strangers, and it doesn't matter so much what they think."

Chloe Smith, 16, writes as sleepisfortheweak on Movellas, and joined when the teacher running her creative writing club asked the class to do so. "Since then, I've been hooked," she says. "I seem to be starting to get a lot more recognition on Movellas now that I've started publishing my poems, especially from the more popular people on there, which is good as it means more people see my work. I get criticism that helps me build on my ideas and improve them so that they are even better than before, and it helps me become better at writing."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

25 Writers on the Importance of Libraries

The list, care of Flavorwire.

From said list...

Ray Bradbury

“I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves — you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library, and I’d written a thousand stories."

Anne Lamott

“My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way. There was sanctuary in a library, there is sanctuary now, from the war, from the storms of our family and our own anxious minds. Libraries are like the mountain, or the meadows behind the goat lady’s house: sacred space.”

Rita Dove

“My childhood library was small enough not to be intimidating. And yet I felt the whole world was contained in those two rooms. I could walk any aisle and smell wisdom.”

Albums as Book Covers


Cat - A New Superhero Fighting Gender Stereotypes

The Guardian highlights a new comic in which the superhero is a woman who isn't a pin-up. She's just regular looking. She wears clothes, for instance.

From the piece...

The catalyst for the creation of his new series, My So-Called Secret Identity – which he says has a "feminist approach from the ground up, in terms of story, character, artwork and production" – was a visit to his local comic shop near Kingston University, where he teaches.

"I walked in and I just felt so unwelcome. All the comics on the shelves were featuring women as pin-ups – women with their boobs out, or their clothes falling off … If someone like me feels uncomfortable walking into a comic shop, it's no wonder most teenage girls and adult women wouldn't set foot inside one," he said. Later that day, he led an induction session for the university's new PhD students. "I looked around at the room full of young women – so smart, determined, keen and committed – and remembered that in the original comic, Batgirl was meant to be a PhD student. Why do we never see women like this in comics – women who are normal, likeable and just really, really clever?" he asked.

Brooker, author of Batman Unmasked and Hunting the Dark Knight, went on to write the script for My So-Called Secret Identity, finding a creative team including Ottawa illustrator Susan Shore and Kingston PhD student Sarah Zaidan. The team is almost entirely female, as is the story's main cast, said Brooker, who could see the irony in his role in the project. "Women for good reason don't feel particularly engaged in the superhero genre," he said. "I have been immersed in superhero comics from a very young age – I'm an insider, so am working from the inside."

Sick Lit

Is it a symptom of the book industry's decline?

From a piece in the Globe & Mail...

 Literary media have been abuzz about the “sick-lit” controversy: novels written for teenagers with themes of death, fatal disease and psychological disease such as anorexia. Apparently these are very popular with girls in the U.K. and North America. Detractors say they are dangerous because they romanticize these things, especially cancer; they encourage wallowing in depression and may actually encourage vulnerable children to harm themselves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finding Vivian Maier

10 Contemporary Novels Inspired by Shakespeare

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Is Sherlock Holmes in the Public Domain, or Not?

That's the question courts will be weighing in on.

From Free Sherlock...

“It is true that some of Conan Doyle’s stories about Holmes are still protected by the U.S. copyright laws. However, the vast majority of the stories that Conan Doyle wrote are not. The characters of Holmes, Watson, and others are fully established in those fifty ‘public-domain’ stories. Under U.S. law, this should mean that anyone is free to create new stories about Holmes and Watson.

“This isn’t the first time the Estate has put pressure on creators,” Klinger adds. “It is the first time anyone has stood up to them. In the past, many simply couldn’t afford to fight or to wait for approval, and have given in and paid off the Estate for ‘permission.’ I’m asking the Court to put a permanent stop to this kind of bullying. Holmes and Watson belong to the world, not to some distant relatives of Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Klinger denies that he was trying to strip the Estate of its proper rights. “The Estate still owns copyrights in the U.S. on 10 of the stories about Holmes—some of the stories that appeared in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. As a lawyer myself, I respect those rights, and in fact I licensed them when I published my New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.”

All of the remaining 10 stories will be in the public domain after 2022, 95 years after the last was published.

Can Libraries Survive in an Era of Budget Cutbacks?

That was the question recently posed by the Daily Beast.

From the piece...

Libraries nationwide are facing cutbacks and shutdowns. Like those in Middletown, most are also facing a Catch 22: the stagnant economy blew a hole in their budgets. At the same time, as people look for low-cost access to information and entertainment, it has also boosted their demand.

Essentially, libraries are closing down just when their communities need them the most.

According to a 2010 study from the Online Computer Library Center, 81 percent of Americans who have been “economically impacted” by the recession have a library card, compared to 68 percent who have not.

“Lots of libraries provide income-tax assistance, financial literacy, and reading literacy. They are helping people solve their problems in their daily lives as well as providing resources at no cost,” says Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Many libraries offer small-business classes, job-application assistance, and access to online job-search centers. Between 2010 and 2011, 88 percent of libraries provided access to job databases and resources and 72 percent offered patrons staff assistance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pieces of Kennedy's Camelot Up for Auction

Poetic Presidents

The Poetry Foundation matched 12 commanders-in-chief with the poets that inspired them.

Best Books Written by Presidents

The list, care of the Daily Beast.

Literature's Weirdest Relationships

The list, care of Litro.

From said list...

The grand-daddy of them all. Not so much for the long-undead Count’s blood-sucking consummation with Lucy, nor the homoerotic frisson between him & Jonathan Harker in the opening chapter, nor even the luxuriant eroticism of Harker’s seduction by Dracula’s three wives. The strangest scene is that between Dracula and Mina Harker. Dracula gashes a wound in his own chest and forces Mina to suck at the bloody slit, like a “child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk”. Say what now? Repressed Victorian sexuality at its finest and weirdest.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Working Out at the Library

Oscar Wilde's Wife

Most people don't even realize he had one. But he did.

From a story in the Weekly Standard...

It is surprising that no biography of Constance appeared before 1983—although, oddly enough, that year brought forth two differently documented and often conflicting works. Surprising because Constance was a pathbreaker in many ways, not least in marrying Oscar. Franny Moyle, having written on the loves and aesthetics of the Pre-Raphaelites, now turns her attention to the Aesthetic movement, of which Oscar Wilde was the most notorious popularizer.

She begins with a dramatic mise en scène, the evening on which Constance learns that Oscar will press the fatal charge of libel against the Marquess of Queensberry. At that very moment he was at the height of his renown, with two plays, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, showing in the West End. What follows concerns how things reached this point and the aftermath.

Interestingly, it is the story of a marriage. According to Moyle, Constance was prepared “to partner the high priest of Aestheticism in awakening a wide public to just how far art might be extended in life.” She was well educated for a woman of her class, and she seemed to share Oscar’s gift for languages. From childhood she was already familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite painters and, later, with the writings of John Ruskin. Her dresses, reflecting the clothes made fashionable by the Aesthetic movement, created sensations: At gallery openings, “Mr. and Mrs. Wilde were offering Lillie Langtry some serious competition as the main interest for celebrity spotters.” Constance, with her interest in textiles, was probably also responsible for the avant-garde interior design of their residence in Chelsea, which was (per the Aesthetic credo) “aesthetic, practical, and healthy.”

She-Hulk - the Novel?


From a piece in the Guardian...

Stand aside, Bridget Jones. Becky Bloomwood, your shopaholic tendencies in Sophie Kinsella's novels have no currency here. There's a new chick-lit heroine in town, and she goes by the name of She-Hulk.

Comics publisher Marvel is teaming up with Hyperion Books to target women readers, with two new novels out this summer both featuring "strong, smart heroines seeking happiness and love while battling cosmic evil": She-Hulk, the female cousin of the Incredible Hulk, and Rogue, one of the female mutants from X-Men. This is the first time the publisher has taken its female superheroes out of the world of comics and into the world of long-form fiction.
"Marvel has had tremendous success with recent hit movies, and we think it's a great time to explore what happens to superheroines when they are dropped into traditional women's novels," said Hyperion's editor-in-chief Elisabeth Dyssegaard.

The Art of Illustration

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Defense of Comic Sans

Does African-American Literature Exist?

That's the question recently posed by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

From the piece...

I'd like to make a claim that runs counter to much of literary scholarship. Historically speaking, the collective enterprise we call African-American or black literature is of recent vintage—in fact, it's just a little more than a century old. Further, it has already come to an end. And the latter is a fact we should neither regret nor lament.

African-American literature was the literature of a distinct historical period, namely, the era of constitutionally sanctioned segregation known as Jim Crow. Punctuated by state constitutional amendments that disfranchised black Americans throughout much of the South, legitimated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 with the infamous "separate but equal" ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, and stumbling into decline in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, Jim Crow and the fight against it gave rise to—and shaped—African-American literary practice as we have come to know it. Like it or not, African-American literature was a Jim Crow phenomenon, which is to say, speaking from the standpoint of a post-Jim Crow world, African-American literature is history. While one can (and students of American literature certainly should) write about African-American literature as an object of study, one can no longer write African-American literature, any more than one can currently write Elizabethan literature.

The Elephants of Typography

World's Largest Collection of Authors on Vinyl Up for Sale

The National Post has a story about a man obsessed with collecting authors on records.

From the piece...

In some ways, it began with Dylan Thomas. In 1952, two young New Yorkers, Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney, heard him read at the 92nd Street Y. They were so impressed by the Welsh poet that they invited him to record his work the following day. Thomas only had enough material to fill one side of the record, so someone rushed out to get a copy of Harper’s Bazaar, which had printed one of his stories. “And that’s the only reason we have ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ recorded,” says Gatenby. That was the first release by Caedmon Records and Dylan Thomas Reading, Volume 1 might be the first audiobook.

Gatenby’s collection is exhaustive, containing almost every major writer and literary figure of the 20th century: T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ayn Rand, J.R.R. Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, Vladimir Nabokov, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw, Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, James Joyce, Robert Frost, Eudora Welty, E.M. Forster, John Steinbeck, Pablo Neruda, Dorothy Parker, Albert Camus, Mordecai Richler and Margaret Atwood. Gatenby owns Kurt Vonnegut reading Slaughterhouse-Five; Tennessee Williams reading from The Glass Menagerie, with a cover by Andy Warhol; Bertolt Brecht’s testimony before the Committee on Un-American Activity and Maya Angelou billed as “Miss Calypso.” Many have never been opened, most are in mint condition. “They didn’t get played over like The Beatles,” says Gatenby.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free Books for Valentine's Day

Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and more!

14 Great Poets on Their Favorite Love Poems

Happy Valentine's Day.

Love, in Amish Country

The Paris Review discusses, yes, Amish romance novels.

From the piece...

The only items there truly unfamiliar to me were two wire racks full of paperbacks, their covers each backlit with the golden glow of God’s everlasting presence and bucolic perfection: wheat fields, corn fields, rivers and barns beneath cerulean or honey skies. A plain-clothed woman in some state of muted emotional duress gazed into the middle distance beneath her white bonnet. I spun through the racks, elated, repulsed. Could there be anything better, or worse, than Amish romance novels? 

“Oh yes, people love them,” my uncle said. “They’re very popular.”

I picked the only one I could have possibly purchased, titled Rachel’s Secret, and left with this as the one keepsake from my conflicted return to Amish country. Fitting.

The Love Letters...of LBJ?


From an AP story...

Unlike brief and instantaneous Twitter or Facebook posts or cryptic phone texts, the letters — most multiple pages — reflect a time when the handwritten note was the chief form of communication.
"Dearly Beloved," Taylor begins one, before reconsidering her salutation. "This sounds like a sermon — it isn't."

He signs them, "Lyndon," or "Lyndon Baines." She signs, "Bird." One closes, "Do you still love me? Devotedly, Bird."

Her stationery carries that name, given to her by a caretaker nurse who described her as "pretty as a lady bird." Her handwriting is very neat in thin black script.

His, also in script with thick dark black ink, is on letterhead from Washington's Dodge Hotel, where he lived while working as an aide to U.S. Rep. Richard Kleberg of Texas. Other letters are on Kleberg's office stationery, sent simply to "Miss Bird Taylor, Karnack, Texas," where her home didn't have a telephone. The envelope carries 6 cents postage, but some he sent by air mail or special delivery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bringing Lincoln to Life

Hardcore Bookcase Porn


In Cold Blood - It's Got Some, Well, Problems

Truman Capote's classic recently tarnished with newly emerged files.

From a piece in the Wall Street Journal...

But new evidence undermines Mr. Capote's claim that his best seller was an "immaculately factual" recounting of the bloody slaughter of the Clutter family in their Kansas farmhouse. It also calls into question the image of Mr. Dewey as the brilliant, haunted hero.

A long-forgotten cache of Kansas Bureau of Investigation documents from the investigation into the deaths suggests that the events described in two crucial chapters of the 1966 book differ significantly from what actually happened. Separately, a contract reviewed and authenticated by The Wall Street Journal shows that Mr. Capote in 1965 required Columbia Pictures to offer Mr. Dewey's wife a job as a consultant to the film version of his book for a fee far greater than the U.S. median family income that year.

In researching "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote received first-class service from the KBI and Mr. Dewey, its lead detective on the case. Mr. Dewey gave the author access to the diary of 16-year-old Nancy Clutter—her final entry logged only moments before two strangers invaded her home in late 1959 and murdered her, her brother and her parents. Mr. Dewey opened the KBI's case file to Mr. Capote. He pressured press-shy locals to cooperate with the author and granted him extraordinary access to the killers. Mr. Dewey even helped Mr. Capote, a New Yorker with no home in Kansas, obtain a Kansas driver's license.

50 Most Influential Books of All Time by Women

The list, care of the Guardian.