Posts Tagged ‘books’
October 3, 2013 | by Ross Kenneth Urken
Down among the counties that help earn New Jersey its Garden State moniker, there lies the hamlet of New Egypt. Within it is the sixty-acre blueberry patch my grandparents used to own. Drive down I-95 through Newark toward the shore to see the world flash from soot gray to Granny Smith green as you are surrounded by towering cornstalks.
Four years ago, my wife, Tiffan, and I made the pilgrimage to Jersey from Manhattan in lieu of our usual fall foliage trip (long story short: I had seen a movie that dissed soi-disant leafers and felt suitably shamed). Plus, I had heard that from back-to-school time through Thanksgiving, Emery’s Farm offered seasonal activities—pumpkin picking, hay rides. Tiffan is from Oklahoma, and I seize any opportunity to conjure country trappings.
But I did have some legitimate claim. This farm, after all, was whither the brand name “Ross da Boss Blueberries” sprang, emblazoned on the cellophane securing the fruit in its green cardboard cartons. When my grandfather, Danny Passoff, retired from running a successful tomato business, he bought the blueberry farm as a pet project with my grandmother, and during summers, my sister and I would work on the farm.
Standing there on that fall day, I told Tiffan about those summers on the farm, about picking the choicest berries and dropping them into my pail—an old coffee canister—with tinny thuds. In the onomatopoeic language of Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book Blueberries for Sal, this is described as “ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk.” By July, the bushes are heavy with the luscious blue fatties, their puckered sepals folded back, mushy marbles that squish deliciously between the teeth. In my memory, that time in my life is, like Sal’s, rendered in the book’s distinctive navy-and-raincoat-yellow palette.
In McCloskey’s book, a childhood favorite, little Sal goes with her mother to Blueberry Hill, only to get lost and temporarily switch mothers with a bear cub. Sal’s mother finds her wandering child by recognizing the cacophony of the berries—“ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk”—she throws into her bucket. Read More »
September 20, 2013 | by Justin Alvarez
- “Jonathan Franzen gripe” or “YouTube comment about saggy pants”? You be the judge.
- Forget condoms and turn instead to Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Gogol, according to a Russian children’s ombudsman. Says Pavel Astakhov, “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature.”
- The little-known original ending of “The Frog Prince” (spoiler: there was no kiss) sheds insight on why the Brothers Grimm were so grim.
- A Stanford University study shows evidence that today’s kids are actually writing longer and better essays than people in Twitter-less 1917. However, according to a recent Pew Research poll of teachers, children are also writing too informally.
- A defense of buying books and never reading them.
September 13, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Earlier this week, we hosted an AMA on Reddit: all the editors clustered around Lorin’s desk, while Stephen typed, and we addressed as many queries as we could. It was fun, and exhausting, and we were delighted and impressed with the caliber of questions! Since there were a number of points that came up repeatedly, below, we are reprinting some of the most frequently-asked questions from that session.
Do you believe that the popularity of creative writing degree programs, both graduate and undergraduate, is impacting contemporary literature positively or negatively? … As a student and writer currently debating whether to pursue the MFA route, or go on to graduate school in my chosen field of study, I would be extremely interested in your views on the matter.
The problem with creative-writing programs is not the quality of instruction; it’s the enforced isolation with other people who are thinking, eating, and breathing the same things you are. That said, much can be learned from a good teacher, or by simply spending those two years alone with a whole lot of books.
As a publishing/journalism industry hopeful, I’m curious about your career trajectories. How did you get where you are now? What were your entry-level jobs?
“Clare and I are both former (Paris Review) interns. That was our entry-level job.” —Stephen
“My first job? I was an editorial assistant at a publishing house.” —Sadie
“I was a part-time secretary at Publishers Weekly.” —Lorin
“This is my entry-level job.” —Hailey
How does the public’s taste in poetry differ now than it twenty years ago? The Paris Review had an article recently stating that there are now “an insufficiency of readers but too many people trying to get published”—how is The Paris Review combating this? Lastly, what are your pet peeves in submissions you get? For example, I work at a journal as well and my “pet peeve” is poems about pieces of obscure artwork that cannot stand alone.
The best way to interest people in reading is to publish great writing. At least, that’s our strategy.
Fashions change in poetry as in any other artistic endeavor; if there’s one generalization to be made, it’s that it’s harder to generalize now about truly gifted poets.
Pet peeves: stories about hunting, stories about MFA programs (though we’ve published our share), stories that start with someone closing a car door. Read More »
August 14, 2013 | by Michele Filgate
My name is Michele Filgate, and I am a book burner.
The first thing you need to understand: I love books. I’m the kind of girl who volunteered at the local independent bookstore when I was in middle school, just so I could get the staff discount. I come by this honestly; my grandmother was fired from her first job because she was caught reading behind the clothing racks. While some girls spent hours playing house and naming their dolls, I whiled away entire play dates alphabetizing my personal library with my best friend. Nowadays, I’m a fan of marginalia—but I cringe at the idea of even dog-earing a page.
In 2007, I was young and naive and penniless. My first job out of college was one of those typical sixty-to-seventy-hour-a-week gigs that so many new-to-New York dreamers end up in. Specifically, I was a production secretary, and later a broadcast associate, at the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
August 1, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
An abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, is now the largest single-floor public library in America. The 124,500 square foot space contains sixty-four computer labs—three for teenagers, ten for children, two specifically devoted to genealogy—an art gallery, a used bookstore, and a café. (Oh, and an “acoustically separated” lounge for teens. The planners either love or hate teenagers, perhaps both.) Check out the whole space here.
July 22, 2013 | by Sadie Stein