The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘J. K. Rowling’

The Original Darwinian Fish with Legs, and Other News

April 7, 2016 | by

Doodles by Darwin’s kids.

  • Today in noble sidelines: in the same way that you or I might go to the gym or take a few shots of Cuervo Gold, Russian diplomats like to write poetry as a means of “blowing off steam.” And they do this intently—there’s a 541-page anthology of poems from Russian and Soviet diplomats. “Poets and diplomats use the same building blocks: the idea and the word,” Vladimir Kazimirov, a former Soviet and Russian ambassador, told the Washington Post. The foreign minister Sergei Lavrov wrote one that goes like this: “And they served the country, feeling its nerves as their own / And learned the art of how to agree and to trade / And they learned how to live, respecting others on merit / And taught others how to respect Russia always … ”
  • Last month, Saul Bellow’s desk was up for sale, and it went nowhere. Now J. K. Rowling’s chair, in a move that must have Bellow’s desk seriously pissed, has sold for $394,000. “The unassuming 1930s-era oak chair with a replacement burlap seat decorated with a red thistle sat in front of Rowling’s typewriter when she was ‘writing two of the most important books of the modern era,’ said James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions … [The seller] said he would like to see the new buyer display it somewhere where children could see it, perhaps in a museum or theme park.”
  • When he wasn’t writing The Origin of Species, Darwin apparently just left the manuscript lying around in conspicuous places—so his children got a hold of it and doodled all over the thing. “At age eight, George Howard Darwin, who grew up to be an astronomer and a mathematician, draws an entire visual taxonomy of the British infantry; Francis Darwin, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a botanist, draws a warring salad; on a dummy envelope, an unidentified child produces a charming caricature of Darwin himself … From a fish with legs to a fruit-and-vegetable cavalry, these irrepressibly joyful drawings, some inspired by natural history and some by the typical staples of boyhood fantasy, bespeak the inseparability of science and life.”
  • At last, we have a scientific corroboration of creepiness: what’s creepy, who’s creepy, where the creepy things are, and why. Two researchers from Knox College “concluded that a person’s ‘creepiness detector’ pings when she encounters something unpredictable or outside the norm, like a person with idiosyncratic behavioral patterns, unusual physical characteristics, or a tendency to over- or under-emote … People were creeped out by those who repeatedly licked their lips; laughed at inappropriate moments; and habitually steered their conversations toward a single subject, particularly sex … Many of the attributes survey participants rated the creepiest—greasy hair, pale skin, ‘peculiar smile,’ bags under the eyes, unkempt hair, dirty clothing, ‘bulging eyes’—seem indicative of a deeper prejudice against people with poor hygiene or conventionally unattractive features … The creepiest occupations, according the survey-takers, are clowns, taxidermists, sex-shop owners, and funeral directors.”
  • Is it creepy to listen to the ocean? To really love listening to the ocean? In the seventies, Irv Teibel convinced a bunch of countercultural types that environmental records were “the future of music”: “Pick up a copy of Environments 1, and you don’t see any of its backstory. There’s no sign of the all-nighters, the stacks of failed beach tapes, or the greasy burgers; no credits or place designations … What you do see are promises, and lots of them. The front boasts the track titles, all-caps beneath a long view of a foamy wave: ‘Side 1: THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY ULTIMATE SEASHORE. Side 2: OPTIMUM AVIARY’ … Early test pressings displayed at the Harvard Coop outsold the Beatles at exam time, as students used recorded surf to drown out noisy neighbors. Bolstered by this early success, in the summer of 1970, Atlantic Records & Tapes bought the rights, expanded distribution, and embarked on a small marketing campaign. ‘This album contains no music, no singing, no spoken words,’ one ad begins, before this surprise kicker: ‘ … And it’s one of the Hottest-sellers in the Underground!’ ” 

Defiance, and Other News

August 1, 2013 | by

russianblurb

  • “So many other good books … don’t waste your time on this one. J. D. Salinger went into hiding because he was embarrassed.” And other one-star Amazon reviews of classics.
  • Anthony Weiner spokesperson Barbara Morgan’s recent rant against a campaign intern has led to several discussions of the usage of bag.
  • A Russian novel uses fake Swedish blurbs; publisher is defiant.
  • Speaking of Sweden! $255,000 worth of stolen rare books have been returned to the National Library.
  • J. K. Rowling is planning to donate The Cuckoo’s Calling royalties to the Soldier’s Charity. (You will recall that Robert Galbraith was in the service.)
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    Wearable Books, and Other News

    July 25, 2013 | by

    wearablebooks

  • Meet The Wizard of Jeanz. It consists of twenty-one volumes, each a chapter of The Wizard of Oz that, when unfolded, turns into an article of clothing. Designer Hiroaki Ohya says he was “disillusioned with the transitory nature of fashion … [and] struck with the permanency of books as objects that can transport ideas.”
  • Yesterday it was book-inspired ice cream; now we have Harry Potter beer. Pilsner of Azkaban, anyone?
  • Speaking of (well, sort of), J. K. Rowling explains how she lit on the pseudonym Robert Galbraith: a combination of Robert F. Kennedy and Ella Galbraith, her childhood alias.
  • On spirants, those consonants which involve a continuous expulsion of breath.
  • The bad house guests in literature.
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    New Joseph Heller Story, and Other News

    July 19, 2013 | by

    josephheller

  • A first edition of The Cuckoo’s Calling—signed by Robert Galbraith—has sold on AbeBooks for $4,453 (£2,950), and the remaining copy is listed for $6,193.24.
  • Anyway, now we know who leaked J. K. Rowling’s identity: her law firm.
  • “Almost Like Christmas,” a short story written post-war by a young Joseph Heller, will be published next week by Strand Magazine.
  • It is unclear whether teachers (according to a Pew study) abhor the Internet’s influence on student writing …
  • … or welcome it.
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    J. K. Rowling’s Party is Over, and Other News

    July 15, 2013 | by

    cuckooscalling

  • By now, you are probably aware that J. K. Rowling wrote detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling under the guise of Robert Galbraith, an ex-military family man. Quoth she, “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
  • Can’t imagine what anyone would stand to gain by revealing the truth behind the modest seller.
  • The publishers who turned the novel down are, of course, kicking themselves.
  • Related: a brief history of the pseudonym.
  • For your alienated youngster: My First Kafka.
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    Date Your Characters, and Other News

    June 28, 2013 | by

    maleasexual600

  • Hogarth is launching a new series in which modern writers reinterpret Shakespeare. First up: Anne Tyler does The Taming of the Shrew, while Jeanette Winterson takes on The Winter’s Tale.
  • In their own words: “We at Author’s Promoter thought it would be awesome if there was a site where you could check out characters from books and read up about them before deciding if you wanted to read their story; we also thought it would be pretty cool if you could find the type of characters you love to read about. In a way, we wanted to offer a ‘dating site’ for readers; we know that no matter how awesome the site gets it will always need more and more improvement adapting to readers and authors’ needs and that is exactly what we intend on doing!” The above is what we got when we selected “Male; asexual; human; 5’ 4”. So, n.b.
  • If you’re more into blind book dating, on the other hand …
  • E. L. James has overtaken J. K. Rowling’s perch on the mysterious Forbes Most Influential list.
  • In which you were tricked into reading science fiction.
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