First editions, second thoughts: [New York Times] "On December 2, Christie's will auction 75 first-edition books, each of which is a unique object that has been annotated with words and/or illustrations by its author. Proceeds from the auction will benefit PEN American Center."
Closing a Chapter of a Literary Life [New York Times] Ahead of the American publication of his latest work, “The Book of Strange New Things,” Michel Faber discusses it and why it will be his last novel.
Exquisite Corpse [New York Times]
Taking their cue from the Surrealist parlor game, 15 renowned authors take turns contributing to an original short story.[more inside]
To Lure Young Readers, Nonfiction Writers Sanitize and Simplify: [New York Times]
"Inspired by the booming market for young adult novels, a growing number of biographers and historians are retrofitting their works to make them palatable for younger readers."
‘The Giving Tree’: Tender Story of Unconditional Love or Disturbing Tale of Selfishness?
Anna Holmes and Rivka Galchen reconsider Shel Silverstein’s classic, published 50 years ago.
Jean-Claude Duvalier, ‘Baby Doc’ of Haiti, Dies at 63: [New York Times]
"Jean-Claude Duvalier, a former president of Haiti known as Baby Doc who ruled the country with a bloody brutality and then shocked the country anew with a sudden return from a 25-year exile in 2011, died on Saturday."
A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time [New York Times] With Intensive Swim Lessons, a Man Attacks His Fear of Water
"Traumatized by childhood incidents, Attis Clopton was deathly afraid of water, so he attacked his phobia by enrolling in a program of swimming lessons."
Don’t Want Me to Recline My Airline Seat? You Can Pay Me [New York Times]
"...airline seats are an excellent case study for the Coase Theorem. This is an economic theory holding that it doesn’t matter very much who is initially given a property right; so long as you clearly define it and transaction costs are low, people will trade the right so that it ends up in the hands of whoever values it most. That is, I own the right to recline, and if my reclining bothers you, you can pay me to stop."
PAPER BOYS: The Dark World of Debt Collection [New York Times] In the murky world of unpaid bills, a banker and an ex-con can make a fortune — if they don’t run into too many crooks.
A Speck in the Sea [NYTimes.com]: John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place.
William T. Vollmann: The Self Images of a Cross-Dresser [New York Times] From a profile on William T. Vollmann, in The New York Times. The profile centers around Vollmann’s latest book, The Book of Dolores.
Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie: [New York Times]
"A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."
Becoming the All-Terrain Human: [New York Times]
"Kilian Jornet Burgada is the most dominating endurance athlete of his generation. In just eight years, Jornet has won more than 80 races, claimed some 16 titles and set at least a dozen speed records, many of them in distances that would require the rest of us to purchase an airplane ticket. He has run across entire landmasses (Corsica) and mountain ranges (the Pyrenees), nearly without pause. He regularly runs all day eating only wild berries and drinking only from streams."
The Cossacks Are Back. May the Hills Tremble. [New York Times]
"In his third term, President Vladimir V. Putin has offered one clear new direction for the country: the development of a conservative, nationalist ideology. Cossacks have emerged as a kind of mascot, with growing financial and political support."
Nora Ephron’s Final Act by Jacob Bernstein (her son). [NYTimes.com]
"At 10 p.m. on a Friday night in a private room on the 14th Floor of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on 68th and York Avenue, my mother was lying in her bed hallucinating, in that dream space people go on their way to being gone."
The Price of a Stolen Childhood [NYTimes.com] When Nicole was a child, her father took pornographic pictures of her that still circulate on the internet. [more inside]
Bolshoi Ballet Director Is Victim of Acid Attack: [NYTimes.com] "A masked man threw acid in the face of Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the legendary Bolshoi Ballet, on Thursday night, leaving him with third-degree burns and possibly threatening his eyesight, Bolshoi officials said on Friday morning."
"...he has been fairly clear that he is simply a boy who sometimes likes to dress and play in conventionally feminine ways."
INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."
To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
Clearing the Bar Is the Easy Part: [NYTimes] "Mark Hollis is a pole-vaulter, and while he and his competitors here feel significant pressure as they compete for a place on the Olympic team, the anxiety they experience just trying to get their equipment to meets is sometimes even more excruciating."
On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet carrying 243 passengers and 16 crew members, took off from Heathrow Airport in Britain, bound for New York.
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, Convicted in 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, Dies at 60. [NYTimes.com] Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of an American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, has died in Libya, family members told news agencies on Sunday, nearly three years after Scotland released him on humanitarian grounds, citing evidence that he was near death with metastatic prostate cancer. He was 60.
Everyone Speaks Text Message: [NYTimes] "Is technology killing indigenous languages or saving them? Well, you may soon be able to text in N’Ko."
"I don't like the sound of all those lists he's making - it's like taking too many notes at school; you feel you've achieved something when you haven't." ~ Dodie Smith
Do Androids Dream of Electric Authors? [NYTimes.com] "So who was Lambert M. Surhone? Just looking at the numbers, you could argue that he’s one of the most prolific creators of literature who ever lived. But was he even human? There are now software programs — robots, if you will — that can gather text and organize it into a book. Surhone might be one of them."
"Footnotes are the finer-suckered surfaces that allow testicular paragraphs to hold fast to the wider reality of the library." ~Nicholson Baker
Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote? [NYTimes.com] 1. Short answer: "Yes" with an "If," long answer: "No" -- with a "But."
"Freedom" by Jonthan Franzen: is one of the most hyped, most anticipated literary novel in years and it goes on sale today. Jonathan Franzen's new book Freedom is being hailed as "The Tolstoy of the Internet Era" [slate]. "The novel of the century" [guardian]. "a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times." [nytimes] "Jonathan Franzen: one of America's greatest living novelists?" [telegraph] Jonathan Franzen is best known for his award winning book The Corrections [nytimes]. Maybe you're wondering why his name is familiar, [Oprah Book Club sticker incident].
To Marty, This bespells doom! A recent reading in Manhattan at the Strand bookstore by David Sedaris, whose most recent book is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” may have offered a glimpse of the future. A man named Marty who had waited in the book-signing line presented his Kindle, on the back of which Mr. Sedaris, in mock horror, wrote, “This bespells doom.” (The signed Kindle was photographed, but its owner’s full name is unknown.)