The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

Bring Home a Little Piece of Obscenity, and Other News

October 2, 2015 | by

Detail from Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait, 1983.

  • If you’ve got an extra $250k–$350k lying around, you could own a part of obscenity history—a print of Robert Mapplethorpe’s electrifying photograph Man in Polyester Suit is up for auction. That’s the one, you’ll recall, that features “a tightly cropped picture of the torso of a black man wearing a three-piece suit, with his large penis hanging out, like a Montgomery Ward catalog hacked by Tom of Finland, with an assist from Duchamp and Groucho Marx.” Twenty-five years ago, Mapplethorpe’s photography unleashed a righteous fury; Jesse Helms and other congressional fuddy-duddies called it obscene and wrote a bunch of angry letters to people. To own Man in Polyester Suit is to give the middle finger to such types, always and forever. I’m sorry I can’t afford it myself. But if someone were to wish to buy it for me as a gift …
  • Elizabeth Bishop met Clarice Lispector in 1962, and immediately set about trying to help the Brazilian writer to break out in America. But there was some kind of a hiccup, and things between them cooled: “It is notably odd that Lispector was not more interested in Bishop’s offer to foster relationships with American publishers; she had struggled to get the elite presses of Brazil to take on her books and would struggle to make money after separating from her husband … Bishop personally negotiated the relationships and letters of interests with these editors, but it seems that she never realized or acknowledged that the power she wielded, often with an air of superiority, was precisely what was offensive … The last time Bishop writes about Lispector to Lowell, she says, ‘She’s hopeless, really.’ ”
  • Whither e-reading? A few years ago, e-books were poised to take over the world—but reading on a screen has failed to live up to its promise, and e-books are just … kind of boring, especially on the much-vaunted Kindle. “Amazon has built seamless, efficient plumbing for digital books. But after a book has made its way through the plumbing and onto the devices, the once-fresh experience now feels neglected … I’ve found that it’s much more effortless to dip back into my physical library—for inspiration or reference—than my digital library. The books are there. They’re obvious. They welcome me back.”
  • If Nietzsche gave a commencement speech—I know, thank God he’s dead, and won’t—he might draw from a part of his Untimely Meditations, devoted to Schopenhauer as an educator, but littered with weird nuggets of quasi-self-help: “There is no drearier, sorrier creature in nature than the man who has evaded his own genius and who squints now towards the right, now towards the left, now backwards, now in any direction whatever … No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!”
  • In John Keene’s collection Counternarratives, “every available form of literary irony—every possible way of forcing stubborn words to mean more than they pretend—­seems to be working at once.” Keene (“black, gay, raised in St. Louis, enamored with language, tormented by it”) is intent on using silence and absence in his fiction; his stories are full of missing texts. “This time, they are the reader’s assumptions and expectations, the dominant narratives—historical and political as well as strictly literary—with which we conjure the world and reproduce it, exclusions and erasures intact.”

A Screaming Comes Across the Tongue, and Other News

June 26, 2014 | by


Paul Klee, Mumon sinkt trunken in den Sessel, 1940.

  • For seven years in the sixties, Dennis Hopper disappeared from Hollywood. What was he doing? Attending the Fonda-Vadim nuptials, hanging around LA’s Love-In, watching Martin Luther King Jr. speak, and photographing all of it.
  • Today in brave souls and/or fool’s errands: “I’m drinking everything mentioned however peripherally in every Pynchon book and jabbering a bit about what it’s like … So what is Chivas Regal like? I’m tempted to say that a screaming comes across the tongue.”
  • Amazon is demanding concessions from publishers that are tantamount to “assisted suicide for the book business” …
  • … And a new, “fiercely independent-minded” book, The Everything Store, reminds of Amazon’s considerably less-incendiary early days: “Bezos hired writers and editors who supplied critical advice about books and tried to emulate on Amazon’s website ‘the trustworthy atmosphere of a quirky independent bookstore with refined literary tastes.’” Years later, these people were replaced by an algorithm called AMABOT, which, given the meaning of amatory, sounds sort of like an animatronic sex doll.
  • But it must be said: “When Anne Campbell of the Open University in Scotland looked at how students used Kindle readers and paper books, she found that the electronic devices promoted more deep reading.”
  • Soon before her seventieth birthday, a woman named Sandy Bem found that her mental faculties had deteriorated enough that she wanted to take her own life—so she planned her suicide with her family. “We looked at the calendar and said, ‘OK, if it’s going to be next week, what day is it going to be?’” her husband said. “I wouldn't have had it any other way,” her daughter said.


This Month’s Most Expensive E-Books

January 29, 2014 | by

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 4.26.23 PM

If you’re flush, you could spend your days schlepping from to one rare-book room to another, hoping to stumble upon a first edition that’s both a worthy investment and an aesthetic treasure. Or you could just go to Amazon and buy one of these recently published e-books, which will, given their pedigree and initial cost, most certainly appreciate in value.

  • River Flow 2012 ($114.98) (“covers issues such as river hydrodynamics, morphodynamics, and sediment transport”)
  • The Perils of Gertrude: 1st Peril Special Edition ($199.00)
  • TRANSHUMAN: (Screenplay) ($200.00)
  • Moroccan Math Secrets (French Edition) ($200.00)
  • The Amazon’s Most Expensive Book (Arabic Edition) ($200.00)

    (“This book is one of the most expensive available on Amazon in Kindle version. It does not exist on paper version. It caters to the richest people. Those who can buy it without flinching. It is not for the poor, stingy, or for those who count their money. Therefore, please do not buy this book if you do not have enough money on your bank account. If you are not wealthy but think you can read this book and ask for a refund afterwards, give up immediately, you are not the readership target. Any unusual thing is expensive! This is the law of supply and demand. Only a privileged few can buy and read this book. The others: go your way. Many free books are available for your long winter evenings. However, if you have a lot of money, and if the price of this book does not disturb you more than that, welcome and good reading.”)

  • Miscellaneous Thoughts, Volume I ($200.00)
  • Quay Walls, Second Edition ($247.96)
  • Proceedings of 2013 4th International Asia Conference on Industrial Engineering and Management Innovation ($319.20)
  • Ullmann’s Fine Chemicals ($347.60)


    Conversing with Brodsky, and Other News

    November 14, 2013 | by


  • Amazon has launched a juggernaut of a Kindle store in Australia.
  • The Joseph Brodsky reading list for facilitating intelligent conversation.
  • Alison Bechdel on heading to Broadway.
  • Writing for good health


    Digital Book Signings, and Other News

    February 27, 2013 | by


  • “Why do so many novels get adapted into screenplays at all, when their essential quality, the persuasive and enthralling power of prose, always must be stripped—and the final product is always left in some state of diminishment?” Ian Crouch on that modern institution, the miniseries. 
  • At three P.M., Toni Morrison is conducting a “digital book signing.” (Really more of a Google hangout, but still.)
  • What are the ten best books you’ve never read? (I, for one, have never finished The Ginger Man.)
  • While we’re ranking stuff: your favorite film about a writer? (Barton Fink.)
  • “Rather than limiting discussion of a certain book to a digital room in e-readers such as the Kobo or Kindle, Socialbook lets all your friends in your personal digital network know what you’re reading and invites them into the conversation. Furthermore, Socialbook puts participants right into the text of the book, where they can scribble notes in the digital margin of the book, highlight portions, pull out quotes and even rearrange the content.” To coin a phrase, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”


    Beautiful Books, and Other News

    November 19, 2012 | by

  • Stationer Mr. Boddington’s Studio does a series of whimsical Penguin Classics covers.
  • Raymond Carver’s OkCupid profile, as edited by Gordon Lish.
  • “On the Kindle, each screen shot floats in space, isolated from the previous or subsequent ones, an effect that left my memory of the book weirdly nebulous.” The challenges of reviewing on the Kindle.
  • Five books on anxiety.
  • Mr. Roth hasn’t given up writing entirely. He is collaborating on a novella, via e-mail, with the 8-year-old daughter of a former girlfriend.”