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The Monster of Colors Doesn't Have a Mouth

"One day I dreamed that my parents, my brothers and I went to visit three islands and I jumped into the water without protection," she wrote in her diary. "I felt like I could be in the water and not drown. I was curious and I swam into the deep water and then I saw my skeleton with my name written on it." Roger Omar collects children's dreams, and asks artists to illustrate them. [more inside]
posted by taz on Jun 9, 2013 - 18 comments

World War II’s Strangest Battle: When Americans and Germans Fought Toget

Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. Andrew Roberts on a story so wild that it has to be made into a movie.
posted by cthuljew on May 13, 2013 - 26 comments

Shall e’er revirginize that brow’s abuse

51 words in the Oxford English Dictionary, including couchward, extemporize, fringy, revirginize and chappelled have quotes from the same source, a mysterious book published in 1852 called Meanderings of Memory, written and published by Nightlark, a "well-known connoisseur". There are only two evidences of the book's existence. If you happen to have a copy of Meanderings of Memory sitting on your shelf, please contact the OED [previous OED mystery].
posted by elgilito on May 10, 2013 - 43 comments

"Publishing is tremendously susceptible to the availability heuristic"

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 - 62 comments

Bolaño Dia 2013

Sunday, April 28, would have been Roberto Bolaño's 60th birthday. The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is holding an event that day, in conjunction with their recent exhibit of Bolaño's archive, to celebrate the life and work of the writer. Or if you're not in Barcelona, the celebration is #DiaBolaño on twitter. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 25, 2013 - 10 comments

Feminism as a scifi nightmare. No really.

A review of the 1971 novel "The Feminists," which portrayed the nightmarish future of 1992, where women ruled over men.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 20, 2013 - 68 comments

Happy Objectified Scotsman Thursday!

Bad Romances is a tumblr celebration of awful Romance novel covers (Related: Awful Fantasy Covers)
posted by The Whelk on Apr 19, 2013 - 56 comments

The forgotten story of a dramatic imperial adventure

As a companion to his fascinating Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, Tim Hannigan has a blog — Footnotes and Sidelights from the Story of the British Interregnum in Java, wherein he shares interesting stories that could not find space in the published book. [more inside]
posted by unliteral on Apr 1, 2013 - 5 comments

The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense

The lack of female road narratives and why it matters Whereas a man on the road might be seen as potentially dangerous, potentially adventurous, or potentially hapless, in all cases the discourse is one of potential. When a man steps onto the road, his journey begins. When a woman steps onto that same road, hers ends.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Mar 15, 2013 - 74 comments

Oddest book titles of the year

Oddest book titles of the year
posted by anothermug on Feb 23, 2013 - 26 comments

Norwegian Wood

“Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” This best selling book by Lars Mytting highlights a passion for firewood and inspired a TV program in Norway about cutting, stacking and burning firewood. The TV program, on the topic of firewood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in. “We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said [Mr.] Mytting .... “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down."
posted by caddis on Feb 20, 2013 - 81 comments

"His writing is not about something; it is that something itself."

In theory: the unread and the unreadable - "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 19, 2013 - 18 comments

Rewarding The Poison Pen

The Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year rewards "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months," with the winning critic taking home a golden hatchet and a year's supply of potted shrimp. 2013's winner: Camilla Long, for her devastating review of Rachel Cusk's divorce memoir, Aftermath. Among other things, she described it as a nasty, bizarre memoir written by a "brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2013 - 71 comments

The Bookstore Strikes Back

Ann Patchett opened a new independent bookstore in Nashville, despite being told that books are dead.
posted by reenum on Feb 6, 2013 - 93 comments

The shocking news that Goldman Sachs is greedy

"Twenty five years ago I quit a job on Wall Street to write a book about Wall Street. Since then, every year or so, UPS has delivered to me a book more or less like my own, written by some Wall Street insider and promising to blow the lid off the place, and reveal its inner workings, and so on. By now, you might think, this game should be over. The reading public would know all it needed to know about Wall Street, and the publishing industry would be forced to look to some other industry for shocking confessions from insiders. Somehow this isn't the case."
posted by vidur on Feb 5, 2013 - 47 comments

No princesses, no ghosts.

You don't want to be dressed as something white in the darkness when there's a bunch of guys with guns looking for polar bears. All Things Considered has an interview with Zac Unger about his book, Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye, and an excerpt from the book.
posted by jacquilynne on Feb 5, 2013 - 3 comments

where MAKING THIS HAPPEN

The legendarily shitty webcomic Sweet Bro and Helpful Hella Jeff is now available as a LAVISHLY HEDONISTIC HARDCOVER BOOK that comes with insiteful author notes, fake Subway coubons, and both a 3-foot ribbone bookmark and a lenticular bookmark. The press release goes into more detail about the book's horrendously shitty excesses, including the four separate webcomic legends who were involved in its makings. And there's a preview trailer which is probably unnecessary but still worth it.
posted by Rory Marinich on Jan 22, 2013 - 35 comments

Nicholson Reads Kipling

Jack Nicholson reads Kipling's Just So Stories with music by Bobby McFerrin Part 2
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Jan 11, 2013 - 14 comments

Mother Goose gone Addams

The Charles Addams Mother Goose
Three blind mice, see how they run!
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?
Charles Addams, longtime New Yorker cartoonist illustrates the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose.
posted by caddis on Jan 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.

Writers No One Reads
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 17, 2012 - 34 comments

What put the uncanny in the valley?

NextNature's Koert van Mensvoort writes about Ukranian woman, Valeria Lukyanova, who is a body artist also known as the Human Barbie. Believed to be fake, she's proven herself to be a real live human being. He takes this opportunity to remind us about Anthropomorphobia – the fear of recognizing human characteristics in non-human objects, in an essay exploring the Twilight between Person and Product.
posted by infini on Dec 11, 2012 - 49 comments

Hari Krugman

"There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy's life. For some, it's Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; for others it's Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. As a widely quoted internet meme says, the unrealistic fantasy world portrayed in one of those books can warp a young man's character forever; the other book is about orcs. But for me, of course, it was neither. My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn't grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behaviour to save civilisation." [Paul Krugman: Asimov's Foundation novels grounded my economics]
posted by vidur on Dec 9, 2012 - 79 comments

Not that kind of girl.

I'm already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, Lena Dunham's $3.7 million dollar book proposal.
posted by Obscure Reference on Dec 8, 2012 - 134 comments

Scottish Literary Sculptural Mysteries Return!

This week in Scotland, it is Book Week. Many note authors are supporting it with free events. And so is the mysterious sculptor who seized the imagination of people worldwide with her books made sculpture. She (one of the few things known about the sculptor) has done a series of five mystery hidden sculptures to help celebrate Book Week. Each of them is related to a Scottish story or author. [more inside]
posted by mephron on Nov 30, 2012 - 8 comments

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work

The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 30, 2012 - 42 comments

"I often read dozens of books simultaneously."

My 6,128 Favorite Books - "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 26, 2012 - 150 comments

On adapting Cloud Atlas into a film

Author David Mitchell discusses how his "unfilmable" book, Cloud Atlas, was adapted into a movie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 24, 2012 - 56 comments

A streaker comes across the stage. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now

Gravity's Rainbow won the National Book Award in 1974. Its author, the famously reclusive Thomas Pynchon, did not appear at the awards ceremony, but instead sent comedian Irwin Corey in his place who accepted the award on behalf of one "Richard Python." At the end of the speech, a streaker ran nude across the stage. [more inside]
posted by deathpanels on Nov 19, 2012 - 42 comments

"challenging Casanova"

Guys don't want casual sex: "This stereotype 'tells us that guys are primarily interested in sex, not relationships... This contributes to the notion that guys are emotional clods who are incapable of connecting with their partners because, hey, they’re just guys, and guys are only interested in sex.'... the Wake Forest University professor lays out the current data on young men’s sexual desires and behavior to make a case against this insidious stereotype." Salon interviews Andrew Smiler, author of Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male. [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 19, 2012 - 122 comments

Niza Yanay - the ideology of hatred: the psychic power of discourse

"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 15, 2012 - 13 comments

We should insist while there is still time

Poet Jack Gilbert has passed away; he was 87. [more inside]
posted by eustacescrubb on Nov 13, 2012 - 15 comments

"dawn of the deed"

Secrets of T-Rex sex! An interview with John Long, author of The Dawn of the Deed: The Prehistoric Origins of Sex. Long's four-part series on Evolution: This View of Life - 1) Down and Dirty in the Devonian; 2) Palaeozoic Paternity Problems; 3) From Bones to Behavior; 4) From Clasper to Penis. Also a Scientific American video ("Long discusses a fossil central to this new view of the origin of copulation and live birth: a 375-million-year-old expectant mother fish dubbed Materpiscis attenboroughi").
posted by flex on Oct 30, 2012 - 23 comments

A real Myst book

"This is a project I've been working on for six years - a replica linking book from the video game Myst." [more inside]
posted by Leucistic Cuttlefish on Oct 30, 2012 - 26 comments

Edible Selby Book

Like Food Porn? Me too!
posted by Yellow on Oct 26, 2012 - 9 comments

New Zealand loves its "precious"

In anticipation of "The Hobbit" movie, New Zealand has issued "Lord of the Rings" themed coins that are legal tender.
posted by reenum on Oct 14, 2012 - 92 comments

Libraries, Google, and the Transformation of Fair Use

The Hathi Trust, a partnership between 66 universities and 3 higher education consortia, is breathing a little easier now that Judge Harold Baer, Jr. of New York's Southern District has found that the Trust was within its fair use rights to allow Google to scan member library holdings, and then making the resulting files available for the reading impaired, and for use in search indexing and data mining. While this is excellent news for the educational institutions involved, it doesn't completely exonerate Google's role in the scanning project. It's notable that just last week Google abandoned it's own fair use claim in settling a different case involving the same book scanning project. Of the four factors used when considering fair use cases, Judge Baer ruled on the side of the Hathi Trust on all four.
posted by Toekneesan on Oct 11, 2012 - 6 comments

Creative Director Starts Drinking Heavily

How Does An Idea Become A Book? (flowchart)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 29, 2012 - 25 comments

The Man, the author, his reader & her e-book

The American Library Association fires the latest response in its tussle with publishers over e-books in public libraries, while in England, a government review of e-books in public libraries is announced.
posted by Wordshore on Sep 28, 2012 - 36 comments

Moon Dream

Dan Roam reminisces about walking into a Russian bookstore in 1993 and picking up a one-of-a-kind item...
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 23, 2012 - 23 comments

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, went on sale 75 years ago today. The first printing, by Allen & Unwin, was for 1,500 copies (which now fetch a premium at auction); the first reviewer, the son of the publisher, was paid a shilling. Through a contorted publishing history, exact or even approximate sales figures are unknown; "over a hundred million" is often quoted. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Sep 21, 2012 - 108 comments

Elektrobiblioteka / Electric Book

Elektrobiblioteka / Electric Book (video). Inspired by El Lissitzky's manifesto published in 1923. Background. Full-text (Polish).
posted by stbalbach on Sep 20, 2012 - 4 comments

"Jumping the rope is not good exercise, for it jars the body too much"

Obsolessons: selected passages from the self-help and guide books of the past. [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk on Sep 14, 2012 - 17 comments

What Kind of Book Reader Are You?

What kind of book reader are you? More types of book reader.
posted by rollick on Sep 4, 2012 - 63 comments

"Great Shades of Elvis!" - Perry White, Ordained Minister, Church of Elvis

The greatest super heroes of various religious faiths! [more inside]
posted by klausman on Aug 29, 2012 - 84 comments

High Weirdness By Mail

"I guess it started for me when, as a young sci-fi movie fan, I did a fanzine at age 12 to 15... that’s when I learned how relatively cheap and easy it was to self-publish, at least for a small circle of weirdos. Later, after comics went up to 50¢, I started collecting stuff equally weird but much cheaper than comic books: kook literature." - Rev. Ivan Stang

You may know of the Church of the SubGenius, that parody religion that worships the almighty "Bob" and was a fixture of MTV and Night Flights back in the day. But do you know of its SECRET ORIGINS? Co-founder Ivan Stang corresponded with hundreds of "mad prophets, crackpots, kooks & true visionaries," from sincere cults to winking charlatans to utter nutjobs to hate groups to independent artists and musicians, with some respected names thrown in, and synthesized them into a half-joking, half-serious celebration of the kook spirit. These days of course the forward-thinking crackpot looking for sheep goes directly to the internet. But while it lasted Stang and co-authors Mike Gunderloy, Waver Forest and Mark Johnston collaborated to document this vanished scene in the legendary book HIGH WEIRDNESS BY MAIL. (All links within may quickly lead someplace NSFW by the nature of the beast.) [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Aug 27, 2012 - 133 comments

BEOWULF: A new translation [free download]

BEOWULF: A new translation Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making… The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? Michael Davidson: "Tom Meyer’s Beowulf reenacts the dark grandeur of a poem that is as much a story of vengeance as it is of courage and loyalty. Meyer brings the poem’s alliterative, inflected line in concert with post-Poundian lineation to give the reader a vivid sense of our oldest poem’s modernity." Free download from independent publisher Punctum Books. [more inside]
posted by the mad poster! on Aug 25, 2012 - 47 comments

28 seconds. Living to write about it.

Ex Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (previously previously previously) reveals struggle with alcoholism, and his thoughts on cyclist's death in new memoir, 28 Seconds. CBC radio "The Current" interview, and CTV tv interview. Allan Sheppard, the deceased's father, asks people to scrutinize Bryant's story.
posted by kneecapped on Aug 21, 2012 - 49 comments

Books, book bindings, and the death of the book

Ever since something was invented to replace it, people have been predicting the end of the book: The Death Of The Book Through The Ages [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 15, 2012 - 60 comments

"Your argument has to be beautiful."

Paul Lockhart, author of the famous Mathematician's Lament, has a new book coming out called Measurement, which tries to discuss mathematics "as an artful way of thinking and living". Lockhart discusses his passion for math and motives for writing the book in this video.
posted by Rory Marinich on Jul 31, 2012 - 17 comments

50 Shades of #808080

By late May, more than ten million copies of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, an erotic romance series about the sexual exploits of a domineering billionaire and an inexperienced coed, had been sold in the United States, all within six weeks of the books’ publication here. This apparently unprecedented achievement occurred without the benefit of a publicity campaign, formal reviews, or Oprah’s blessing, owing to a reputation established, as one industry analyst put it, “totally through word of mouth.” [Grey Area: How ‘Fifty Shades’ Dominated the Market]
posted by vidur on Jul 30, 2012 - 101 comments

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