The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘books’

Books Stop Bullets, and Other News

November 21, 2014 | by

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Photo via Reddit

  • At Florida State University, a student’s life was saved when the books in his backpack stopped a bullet. (Insert joke about e-books, importance of print here.)
  • On Boston’s David R. Godine, a publisher who “specializes in books nobody buys … Godine has a knack for nurturing Nobel Prize recipients; he was the first in the United States to publish Modiano as well as 2008 Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. He is renowned for producing—if not always selling—eclectic and fastidiously assembled and designed books.”
  • “Like eros, wonder was once considered a dangerous passion. Much of the traditional intellectual ambivalence surrounding wonder derived from its affinity to the passions of horror and terror … Modern wonder, like many of the traditional passions, has faded from the saturated hues of blood red and lapis lazuli blue to baby pink and blue pastels. ‘Baby’ is used advisedly in this context: modern wonder has become infantilized, the stuff of children’s entertainment, whether in the form of cartoon fairy tales or science museum exhibitions.”
  • The first-ever weather forecast, from 1861: “North—Moderate westerly wind; fine. West—Moderate south-westerly; fine. South—Fresh westerly; fine.” (It was mostly accurate.)
  • … And today there are, apparently, commercial meteorologists, who “work behind the scenes to provide companies with customized weather data and analysis. On some days, like last Wednesday, that can entail cooling unfounded fears, while on others it means assisting corporate clients in prepping for a natural disaster. Whatever the weather throws at stores and shoppers, it’s the job of commercial meteorologists to help stores and their emergency management teams put a plan in place.” (Leaving their customers to make do with good old network-television meteorologists.)

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Announcing Our Windows on the World Contest

November 1, 2014 | by

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Matteo Pericoli’s drawing of the view from Lidija Dimkovska’s window in Skopje, Macedonia.

For the past few years, readers of the Daily have enjoyed an occasional series called “Windows on the World,” featuring Matteo Pericoli’s intricate pen-and-ink drawings of the views from writers’ windows around the world. Now those drawings are available in a book—Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views—and we’re celebrating with a contest. You can have your view illustrated by Pericoli, too.

Starting today, submit a photograph of the view through your window—including the window frame—along with three hundred words about what you see, to contests@theparisreview.org. Submissions will be judged by the editors of The Paris Review and Penguin Press, and by Matteo Pericoli. The winner will receive Pericoli’s original sketch and have his or her essay published on the Paris Review Daily. Five finalists will receive signed copies of Windows on the World.

For all the details, click here, and then get cracking: we’re only accepting submissions until November 15.

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If I Had a Ribbon Bow

October 31, 2014 | by

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From the cover of In a Dark, Dark Room.

As we all know, the world divides, evenly or otherwise, between those of us who grew up reading In a Dark, Dark Room and those who did not. Those of us who have read it (I got my copy at one of those sponsored school book sales, noteworthy for its bake sale and wealth of Klutz-brand books, one of which came with a Koosh ball) will never look at a green ribbon the same way again.

Spoiler alert for “The Green Ribbon”: Girl has green ribbon around her neck. Grows up, marries, ages, dies. Ribbon is untied, head falls off. It is a perfect scary kid’s story: simple, terrifying, pleasantly idiotic. Certainly, I didn’t feel it to be in any conflict with the basic facts of anatomy. Certainly not doll anatomy. In Alvin Schwartz’s 1984 I Can Read! version, the girl—Jenny—looks sort of like Laura Nyro and rocks a really good look. 

If I have a beef with most modern fright-fests, it’s that they’re too complicated: over-plotted, spilling over with various malignancies and kinds of dark magic. “The Green Ribbon” is an antidote to this. Unlike, say, the Koosh ball, it has aged well. After its fashion, it is the perfect scary story. But you don’t have to take my word for it! 

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Love Among the Chickens

October 15, 2014 | by

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INTERVIEWER

Of all the books you’ve written, do you have any favorites?

WODEHOUSE

Oh, I’m very fond of a book called Quick Service and another called Sam in the Suburbs, a very old one. But I really like them all. There are very few exceptions.

—P. G. Wodehouse, the Art of Fiction No. 60, 1975

I wonder how Wodehouse (born today in 1881) came down on Love Among the Chickens, one of his earlier novels and, to my mind, one of his strangest. It is, as its title page quite clearly states, “A Story of the Haps and Mishaps on an English Chicken Farm.” (Wonderful use of haps, there. Why is it that we only hear of mishaps these days?) Read More »

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Weighing In, Part 1

October 15, 2014 | by

Watching a cage fighter starve himself.

Photo: Jeremy Brooks

“Four eggs,” I instructed the waiter at the finest restaurant in the Palms Casino Resort.

“Egg salad?” He was in a starched suit, pouring water into a delicately lipped glass.

“No, four hard-boiled eggs.”

“Four eggs.”

The waiter returned with four eggs huddled in the slight depression of a sizable dinner plate, as if to further diminish the sad feast through a trick of scale. Each egg had been deshelled, which was, I supposed, the benefit of ordering hard-boiled eggs at the finest restaurant in the Palms. Erik was a few flights up in his hotel room, showering after a workout, but he had asked that his meal be ready when he descended, and I feared displeasing him.

Though his mentor Duke, his roommate Pettis, and his manager could be found dispersed among the card tables and slot machines, not a single member of Hard Drive, Erik’s fighting collective in Cedar Rapids, had ventured with us to Las Vegas. Following a momentous schism between him and his brother, Erik had been “banned for life” from the gym and its environs.

Banished, Erik had returned to Milwaukee, to his warm, fast-talking Italian American coach, to his potential as one of the youngest men in the most prestigious promotion open to men who weighed in at 155 pounds. From their offices in Vegas, connected people continued to call him in Milwaukee, and it was as if he had never made the mistake of going home. Would he like to be in the official UFC video game? They would fly him out to LA, take measurements, and then boys everywhere would fight their friends in the avatar form of Erik “New Breed” Koch. Pettis was asked to be a judge for the Miss Wisconsin USA pageant and, in declining the offer, sent Erik in his stead. Erik met, at the event, the manager of a Jersey Shore cast member. Would Erik like to be on an episode of DJ Pauly D’s upcoming reality spin-off show? He said he very much would like that. He was unattached, alone, free to make commitments to as-yet-theoretical reality shows as he pleased.

Erik at last arrived at the restaurant, sat across from me without a word, unrolled from the napkin his knife and fork, and began the surgical egg procedure with which I was, by then, familiar. I would have liked to discuss our surroundings, as it was my first encounter with a professionally run promotion and I had many astute observations on the subject, but he ate with an air of sacral solemnity I did not wish to desecrate by speaking. It was my twenty-ninth birthday and I had not told a soul in the world. Read More »

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Trim Size

October 14, 2014 | by

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An illustration from Bundesbuch von Magenau (Book of the Covenant of Magenau), 1790.

One of the many things that dates my childhood firmly to the eighties and early nineties is the ubiquity of large reference books in it. Reference books, big ones, figure in most of my memories; I guess they were easy to find at tag sales. At any given moment, you could find me poring over The Great TV Sitcom Book, The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, Best Movie Quotes, or The Big Broadway Fake Book, which is in fact probably still in use for auditions, since it contains only sheet music. (I read this only in moments of desperation.) However, it should be said that lines were drawn: someone once gave my family one of those dedicated Great American Bathroom Books, and my mother found it disgusting and threw it away immediately.

For a few years, this sort of tome—eighties excess between two covers—must have had imprints in every major publishing house of the era. There was a distinctive look to the volumes, which were probably intended as gifts or coffee-table items, but had their own low shelf at our house. Monumental title adjectives—great, big, ultimate, definitive—were desirable. The font had to be assertive. It was also a good idea to have lots of the content listed on the jacket, a taste of the great knowledge contained therein. Obviously they had to be physically large, as unwieldy as possible—although I carried them from room to room. It wasn’t just me, either. My friends liked them, too, as I remember, but this may be a comment on the quality of entertainment on offer at my playdates. Read More »

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