Last Week's Links

Literary Links

Is Publishing About Art or Commerce?

“The antitrust trial to block the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster has riveted the industry—and raised larger questions about the business of books.”

If, like me, you’re having trouble keeping up with the trial to prevent the merger of two major publishers, here’s a good summary.

Categories: Publishing, Writing

When they came for the librarians: My profession is under attack — what happens now?

Gretchen Corsillo, director of the Rutherford Public Library in New Jersey, examines the situation that the frequent calls for book bans in schools and libraries faces members of her profession to face.

Categories: Censorship, Libraries

How to think for yourself

Schopenhauer and Proust can help you find inspiration from your favourite writers while also retaining an independent mind

David Bather Woods, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K., offers some advice that the world desperately needs more of right now: how to think for yourself:

  • Don’t use reading as a substitute for thinking.
  • Thinking for yourself will make your thoughts your own.
  • Combine your reading with thinking for yourself.
  • Read for company and encouragement in your thinking.
  • Allow beautiful writing to entice you to think for yourself.
  • Make your thoughts known.

Categories: Reading, Writing

How a Mormon Housewife Turned a Fake Diary Into an Enormous Best-Seller

“‘Go Ask Alice’ sold millions of copies and became a TV movie, but its true provenance was a secret.”

Here’s a fascinating look at how Go Ask Alice, published in 1971, became the handbook for the war on drugs.

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literary History, Literature & Culture, Writing

Where Are Mass Market Paperbacks Headed?

Trade paperback (left) and mass market paperback books

Mass market paperbacks, those small books with teeny, tiny print, got me through college in the late 1960s. Their chief value is that they were cheap. Nowadays, most paperbacks are printed in the larger format known as trade paperbacks, which cost only a bit less than their hardcover sources. I’ve often wondered why I see so few mass market paperbacks around today. Here’s a look at the possible future of those little gems.

Categories: Publishing, Reading

Does the Maximalist Novel Still Matter?

“Once upon a time, a new Pynchon or DeLillo was an event. Now, Adam Levin’s latest Mega-Novel raises questions about what, if anything, this type of fiction has left to say.”

The maximalist novel—also referred to as the “systems novel” or the “Mega-Novel”—towers, it looms, it stands upright on the bookshelf and intimidates readers, daring them to endeavor, to understand, to finish. These works began in earnest in post-WWII America, with novels like William Gaddis’s The Recognition and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and all share certain qualities . . . : length, encyclopedism, exuberance, polyphony, paranoia, ethical commitment, and hybrid realism. In other words, they’re long, dense, and ambitious, told from numerous points of view, interested in morality, awash in conspiratorial machinations, and framed in a narrative filled with over-the-top characters and unlikely scenarios.

Well, that’s quite a mouthful: a maximalist definition for a maximalist novel. Here Jonathan Russell Clark examines the value of such novels through discussion of Adam Levin’s most recent work, Mount Chicago, “a 600-page satire about a comedian, a mayor, and an aide grappling with the fallout of a giant sinkhole swallowing an enormous chunk of Chicago.”

Categories: Big Books, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Literature & Culture

Do Spoilers Really Ruin a Story? Or Can They Make You Enjoy It More?

With only a few very infrequent exceptions, I try to avoid spoilers on my blog. In this article Patricia Thang examines research studies done to find out whether readers like or hate spoilers. Not surprisingly, the research suggests that some people hate spoilers, while others like them. “Keep enjoying your stories how you want to enjoy them, whether that be spoiler-free, spoiler-full, or somewhere in between,” Thang concludes.

Category: Reading

Top 10 books about women written out of history

“For centuries scholars have busied themselves with the ‘victors’ of history, who were usually men. Now a new generation is broadening the picture to include the lives most of us lead”

One of the aspects of Life Stories in Literature that I enjoy the most is books now being written to give voice to people who, over centuries, have been erased from history, particularly women. This excerpt from Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages Through the Women Written Out of It by Janina Ramirez lists 10 books that “[put] the frame on lost women to expose broader societies and draw in others that have also been overlooked.”

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literature & Culture, Literary History

Beyond BookTok: The generation revolutionising publishing

This article from the U.K. describes “a cross-country journey to meet and photograph the people behind some of the UK’s brightest BookTok accounts, in the places where their online adventure started: in uni halls and suburban enclaves, city flats and family homes.”

Read what these BookTokkers have to say about “the phenomenon they’ve created online, how it’s changing the world around them, and why you should join BookTok, too.”

Categories: Publishing, Reading

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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