“The most serious charge that can be brought against New England is not Puritanism, but February.” – Joseph Wood Krutch, writer and February-hater.
But fortunately there are a few interesting things happening in the world of books to read and talk about.
Literary Hub to launch in April
The Wall Street Journal reported a story earlier this month about a “Huffington Post for the literary world” to be launched in April.
The site, scheduled to go live on April 8, is called Literary Hub. Focusing on literary fiction and nonfiction, it will present personal and critical essays, interviews and book excerpts contributed by nearly 70 partners ranging from the small press New Directions to heavyweights such as Scribner, Knopf and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Bookstores and literary magazines such as the Paris Review also will contribute. The site, at lithub.com, will commission original content, including dispatches on the literary scenes in cities across the country, bookstore profiles and a weekly review of books. (Organizers are still discussing whether it should publish its own book reviews.) The site will offer a new book excerpt each day, and a daily roundup of literary news.
The whole thing feels a bit vague at this point. According to its creator, a literary hub is needed because “there’s a gigantic amount of literary content being produced each day but unless you have 10 people looking for it, you won’t find it.” Really? That seems like a statement by someone who just recently heard there’s this thing called “The Internet.” Indeed one of the aims of Literary Hub is to target “literary types who weren’t early digital adopters, and still prefer to read on paper.” Uh, why? Anyhoo, I was curious enough to subscribe. You can read the full article at wsj.com.
Listen to Roxanne Gay in Toronto
The International Festival of Authors and Harbourfront Centre hosted Roxanne Gay in Toronto. The popular writer, professor, blogger and author of Bad Feminist spoke and read from her novel An Untamed State. If you missed it because, well, it’s February in Toronto and you didn’t want to go outside, you can listen to the full talk at NowToronto.com.
An interview with Harper Lee’s editor at Vulture
Assuming you are reading this blog and love books, you have heard that there will be a new book published in July by Harper Lee. Go Set a Watchman is already a bestseller, and in the wake of initial excitement, there’s been some fascinating discussion about exploitation of the elderly and the rights/wishes of an author regarding her work. When an author dies, are we obligated to honour her wishes if, for example, she wants any remaining manuscripts or personal documents to be destroyed? Who owns the letters and journals of a deceased author – a community of literary fans and scholars, or her still living relatives, whose lives may be affected by the publication of documents initially intended to be private? And if an author is still living, but we’re unsure of her capacity to make decisions about her affairs, are we obligated to honour her past wishes more than her present ones? You can read an interview with Harper Lee’s editor at Vulture.com.
Hey, there’s this book called 50 Shades of Grey and they made a movie!
With much heavy-breathing on the part of movie studio executives, the film version of 50 Shades of Grey was released this week, giving the internet the opportunity to turn away from Gamergate, Bill Cosby and whatnot to focus once again on belittling women, their literary tastes, desires, etc. Having personally slogged through 300 pages of the book, with 200 to go, I can honestly say that the discussion around 50 Shades is more enthralling than the book. I haven’t seen the movie yet; the reviews aren’t promising and I’m loathe to fork over the bucks – I’ll wait for the iTunes release. There’s an entertaining review, though, by Monica Heisey at The Hairpin.
Accident at the Sugar Beet at the New Yorker Fiction podcast
The New Yorker Fiction podcast’s latest story is Tom Drury’s Accident at the Sugar Beet, read by Antonya Nelson. Drury’s small-town rural setting is a place where warm neighbourliness lives next to unknowable desires — think walking through a cornfield strewn with ground glass. Accident at the Sugar Beet is funny, touching, and unsettling, and I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of this very fine author. You can listen to the story at The New Yorker, or download the podcast on iTunes.
I don’t buy books as often as I’d like. I don’t have the budget. But sometimes people give me gift cards, an’ I get to treat myself – ooohh.
So here is All the Songs: The story behind every Beatles release by Jean-Michel Guesdon & Philippe Margotin. It’s not scholarly exactly – much of the information can be found elsewhere, and there are far too many exclamation marks and question marks for the text to feel authoritative.
But there are lots of bits of trivia and photos, so I can read along as I listen to the albums,
and pretend that February in Toronto never happened. Heaven.