A cultural news roundup.
- An unfinished Jane Austen novel sells at auction for $1.6 million.
- The end of Borders.
- “Sigmund Freud, cokehead.”
- California schoolbooks add the LGBT community.
- So do Archie comics.
- The rock memoir is huge: can the Thin White Duke (or for that matter Ziggy Stardust) be far behind? Bowie becomes publishers’ “top target.”
- “We insist that students touch and smell and shine light through items, and investigate them to understand the book in history, and understand the book as history.”
- Entering the publishing world in the digital age.
- Longshot Magazine is back.
- A Harry Potter plagiarism case bites the dust.
- Frederick Seidel on a time before air-conditioning.
- A brief history of Pendleton.
- Alan Bennett: “I have always been happy in libraries, though without ever being entirely at ease there.”
- How to undress a Victorian lady.
- If the Paradise Lost adaptation is hell for Milton lovers, call Bradley Cooper the devil.
- The NewsCorp scandal: (almost) stranger than fiction.
Early in the movie Limitless, we follow protagonist Eddie Morra as he shuffles aimlessly down a street in New York’s Chinatown. Observed from a distance, Eddie barely registers onscreen. He has a scraggly ponytail and a beat-up jacket. One hand is wrapped in grubby surgical tape. His attitude is at once hostile and cowering. He could probably use a shave, a shower, and a sandwich, but something more is wrong, something fundamental about Eddie himself. In voice-over, Eddie uses his career to explain his unsavory appearance: “What kind of guy without a drug or alcohol problem looks this way? Only a writer.”
In movies, writers are only slightly less morally repugnant than serial killers (unless the writer is a serial killer). According to Hollywood, writers are either parasites (Deconstructing Harry, Barton Fink, Capote, Misery); perverts (The Squid and the Whale, Adaptation, Wonder Boys, American Splendor); addicts (Permanent Midnight, Barfly, Leaving Las Vegas, Sideways), or sociopaths (La Piscine, Deathtrap, The Shining). They have monstrous egos and tiny, wizened hearts. Their moral compasses are permanently cracked; their personal relationships are cynically contrived to produce “experience,” which they feed to the insatiable maw of their craft. They are creatively constipated. They practice poor personal hygiene. They are not lovely to look at. It almost goes without saying that they are almost always male.