What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 27, 2013 -
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
, Stanislaw Lem's 1961 masterpiece, has finally been translated directly into English
. The current print version
, in circulation for over 4 decades, was the result of a double-translation
. Firstly from Polish to French, in 1966, by Jean-Michel Jasiensko. This version was then taken up by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox who hacked together an English version in 1970. Lem, himself a fluent English speaker
, was always scathing
of the double translation. Something he believed added to the universal misunderstanding of his greatest work. After the relsease of two film
versions of the story, and decades of speculation, a new direct English translation has been released
. Translated by American Professor Bill Johnston
'The Definitive Solaris
' is only available as an audiobook for the time being. Copyright issues, hampered by several, widely available
, editions of the poor English translation may mean it is some time yet before a definitive print edition makes it onto our bookshelves
posted by 0bvious
on Jun 19, 2011 -
The Book Pirates of Peru.
A slideshow in which Peruvian author Daniel Alarcón describes the vibrant literary scene in his home country, where the informal publishing industry is the same size as its legitimate counterpart. There's no library system to speak of, the National Library's acquisitions budget is nil, but a culture of reading and writing is booming, with book sales and attendance at literary festivals up, up, up.
posted by WPW
on Jan 18, 2010 -
"I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books. "
posted by milquetoast
on Jul 25, 2009 -
It's a sad old story
but the reading of literature continues to decline. Prospero's Books
- a Kansas-city used bookstore - is so desperate to thin out its collection it has started to burn books. Co-owner Tom Wayne says he is unable to sell many of his thousands of books
, or even to give them away to libraries and thrift stores, so he started a pyre in protest.
posted by stbalbach
on May 29, 2007 -
The Digested Read
at The Guardian reduces popular books to 400 words and a conclusion. Recent notables include Belle du Jour
("Sometimes I lie about my age to clients. Sometimes I even lie to my friends. I guess you must be wondering whether I'm lying now.") Crichton's State of Fear
("Author's note: I'm very, very clever and have read a lot and you're all stupid wishy-washy liberals.") and Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons
("At least it covered her breasts, whatever they were. Charlotte knew men might want to touch them, but she didn't know why as she had never read Cosmopolitan.") Possibly NSFW if you have an employer with no sense of humor. On preview: Individual Digested Reads have been linked in previous discussions on Henry James
and Camille Paglia.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Jan 17, 2005 -
The DNA of Literature. The Paris Review
, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, makes available free .pdfs of fifty years of interviews with leading writers.
posted by rushmc
on Jan 12, 2005 -
makes you want to pick up a great novel
and consume it in one long gulp. It’s a love letter to literature and literacy, a bibliophile’s dream film, dedicated to the joys of fiction and the passions of those who need books like they need food, water and air." (The Dallas Morning News)
posted by rushmc
on Aug 13, 2004 -
is a fantastic, prize-winning author. His book Newjack
is, to quote Jon Krakauer, "a compelling, compassionate look at a terribly important, poorly understood aspect of American society." In it, he works undercover as a guard at Sing Sing. You can read the truncated New Yorker version
on the site. Additionally, there are many other articles
, reviews and interviews
, and a pretty interesting group of e-mails
from "officers, their families, and others affected by prison." And, just to name-drop once more, Sebastian Junger says: "Ted Conover is a first-rate reporter and more daring and imaginative than the rest of us combined." Check him out!
posted by adrober
on Oct 25, 2003 -
Little Stalker Boy is tired,
but mostly he's just restless. Little Stalker Boy is outside her house again tonight - hanging in a tree and taking photos as she passes the front window.
posted by dg
on Jul 27, 2003 -
I'm something of a bibliophile; at age 17 I have a personal library of over 600 books and I read about 120 books every year. One of the cool things I discovered on the 'net last year was the growing number of personal book review sites. A couple of my favorites are John Regehr's Book Pages
and Danny Yee's Book Reviews
. Both sites provide literate, enjoyable commentary on a wide-range of books. Assignment: Anybody else out there found any good book review sites? If so, please share and explain.
posted by hanseugene
on Jan 25, 2001 -