Posts Tagged ‘books’
November 8, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
In 1934, Columbia University moved its twenty-two miles of books to the newly built Butler Library. By means of a really long slide. Which actually looks less fun than it sounds, and was much too shallow for human use. (Which is probably good, considering this was on a college campus.)
Not to be confused with the recreational-use book slide from the Panorama House:
… or the bokstörten of the Stockholm Public Records Building:
November 4, 2013 | by Kaya Genc
In March, Michele Filgate wrote about Meriç Algün Ringborg’s Manhattan exhibition “The Library of Unborrowed Books” for this Web site. For that exhibition Algün Ringborg selected and exhibited titles that had never been borrowed from their respective libraries—an idea both clever and touching. Last month she opened her new, similarly bookish exhibition in Istanbul’s stylish Gallery NON, which is currently hosting its first show in a new building on a bystreet cutting through Istiklal, the city’s cultural center.
“The Apparent Author” consists of a sound installation which amplifies the voice of an author going on and on about her artistic goals, ambitions, and potentials (it feels as if she prefers speaking over the more difficult task of writing a book). Moving along, the viewer is confronted by two silent videos of the hands of the same author (in one video she ties a knot, in the other she performs a trick with a pen—both movements seem equally devoid of purpose). Then we come to what is, implicitly, the author’s workplace; we see the manuscript of a romance-thriller novel composed entirely from example sentences found in the Oxford English Dictionary, whose random and yet strictly disciplined order serves as the point of departure for the exhibition.
As an Istanbul author trying to finish a first novel in English, I was particularly fascinated by one piece: a shelf holding more than one hundred books devoted to helping authors finish their manuscripts. In fact, I immediately took out my iPhone and made a recording of the manual titles so that I could read them in more detail back home. (With the exception of Milan Kundera’s The Art of the Novel, I hadn’t read any of the books on Algün Ringborg’s shelf.) My fast-panning video is fifty-three seconds long; typing the titles of all the books in it took almost an hour. Below I present the fruits of my labors: a full list of the library’s titles, which Algün Ringborg says are all taken from actual books. I checked them on Amazon; she is right. However absurd their titles may seem, almost all those books are sold under the site’s Education & Reference department.
My feelings shifted from laughter to sadness when I tried imagining not only the readers of those books, but also the authors, themselves in desperate need of attention from the people they are meant to educate. Read More »
October 29, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
My high school had a volunteer program with a local children’s home, and periodically we would throw holiday parties and carnivals. For some reason I was usually working the craft table and we always had the kids make sock puppets. It wasn’t that anyone was under the illusion sock puppets were especially fun, and after the first few, the kids could hardly have wanted more, because it was always the same group of kids. But one of my schoolmate’s fathers had a line in sock manufacturing and donated them, and in the grand tradition of gift horses, we didn’t look these in their gaping, sock-puppet maws. We didn’t have very good glue; sometimes you could sort of get a clump of yarn “hair” to stick to the top of the sock, but more often than not the Elmer’s-stiffened skein would fall off immediately and somehow manage to adhere to the table or your fingers. Because the googly eyes were self-adhesive, they were the best accessory. So we would force them to take home dozens of glue-smeared socks festooned with the rolling eyes of maddened stallions, and that was the community service requirement, and I suppose college admissions people looked at that, and thought something, or would have were it not there.
Here are classic books with googly eyes on them.
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 »