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Coffee Quotes

July 6, 2016

Okay, this is fun. (Ha!)

Er … uh … (ahem!)

Right. Anyway, I’m going to give you three quotes―

photo by bd“In order to answer this question, it seems that immigrants in Queens and New Jersey, Catherine the Great, Russian oligarchs, Imperial relics and top auction houses had to all get involved.” (Irina Reyn)

“Someone on Goodreads took the time to write out “Meh” as their whole review. I admire that dedication to sharing your indifference with the whole Internet forever.” (Bob Proehl)

“In my heart, I’m a comedian—not a successful comedian, but one who is both sad and deeply committed to the art.” (Hannah Pittard)

―and then you’re going to go read the rest of Teddy Wayne’s July Q&A with five authors: Jennifer Armstrong, Patrick Flanery, Hannah Pittard, Bob Proehl, and Irina Reyn.

Sound good?

Excellent! Thank ye!

―bd

____________________

Wayne, Teddy. “Life of an author on the internet: ‘Someone on Goodreads took the time to write out ‘Meh’ as their whole review'”. Salon. 5 July 2016.

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You Always Knew

June 4, 2016

Thu-Huong Ha, for Quartz:

Detail of frame from Ergo Proxy, episode 11, "Anamnesis (In the White Darkness)".Economists from Italy’s University of Padova compared data on 5,820 European men to see if longer compulsory childhood education could increase kids’ earnings over a lifetime. It does: Averaged across nine countries, boys who attended an extra year of school due to changing age requirements eventually returned an additional 9% of income.

But the researchers were surprised to find that, among kids who benefited from an extra year of school, those who grew up with more than 10 non-school books (that is, books they weren’t forced to read) at home eventually doubled that lifetime earning advantage, to 21%. Factors like whether the boys’ fathers had white-collar jobs, and whether their homes had running water, did not seem to make a difference.

Crucially, there was no significant difference between whether participants reported having 50, 100, or 200 books growing up. The key was whether they grew up with any number of books greater than 10.

The 2015 study from Brunello, Weber, and Weiss, published in The Economic Journal, is presently posted for open access.

Thus we find a scrap of evidence supporting something I think we all have known, instinctively at least, is true.

Keep reading. Keep teaching. Keep learning.

―bd

____________________

Brunello, Giorgio, Guglielmo Weber, and Christph T. Weiss. “Books are Forever: Early Life Conditions, Education and Lifetime Earnings in Europe”. The Economic Journal. 25 April 2016.

Ha, Thu-Huong. “Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults”. Quartz. 2 June 2016.

(h/t Science of Us)

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Can You Imagine the Rumble?

February 25, 2016

In truth I was not aware of any particular rivalry ‘twixt authors of novels and memoirs, but neither is that definitive … or indicative of pretty much anything. Nonetheless, here we go:

Salon.comBy the end of this treatise on “appropriate choice of vocabulary” and the human impulse to “relativise” emotions, the reader still has no clear sense of how [Catherine] Millet feels about her mother’s suicide or what, if anything, this suicide has to do with her pained relationship with her husband. We learn more in one sentence of [Edouard] Levé’s about both the precise nature of the narrator’s feelings for his dead friend and the complications of intimacy in general.

And while I will not take a side―nor even try to figure out what the sides are, or if they actually exist at all―in Hannah Tennant-Moore’s introspection, I would at least go so far as to note she would seem to have a point with that paragraph.

Yeah, I know. Everybody’s a critic. Doesn’t mean a one of us has an answer. The answer. I mean, you know. An answer? Do I need an umbrella today? “Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nineteen! Nineteen!” Yeah, you know? It’s an answer.

―bd

____________________

Tennant-Moore, Hannah. “Too real for reality TV — or even memoir: The new novels that dare use fiction to reveal secret truths”. Salon. 14 February 2016.

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Murmur and Buzz: A Wrinkle in Time

February 25, 2016

Via Deadline:

'A Wrinkle in Time' ― original 1963 dustjacket (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)Selma director Ava DuVernay has just been set by Disney to direct A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning Madeleine L’Engle fantasy classic novel that has a script by Oscar-winning Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Deadline revealed February 8 that DuVernay had been offered this film and was also in the mix at DreamWorks for Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly. DuVernay now has the offer on that film and is in negotiations on a pic that has 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o attached to a fable about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be one. That film is produced by Frank Marshall, Trevorrow and Big Beach principals Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.

I would imagine this is good news.

―bd

____________________

Fleming Jr., Mike. “Ava DuVernay Set To Direct Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’; Script By ‘Frozen’s Jennifer Lee”. Deadline. 23 February 2016.

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Style and the Twenty-First Century

November 26, 2015

I am sorry to drag political writing into this, but it happens to be where the example arises. In truth, you can ignore the politics, inasmuch as that is possible. Writing for Salon, Heather Digby Parton notes:

Huh?The CNN story goes on to interview various scholars who all say that to one degree or another Trump is, indeed, fascistic if not what we used to call “a total fascist.” Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back.

It’s hard to understand why this has been so difficult to see. On the day he announced his campaign, Trump openly said ....

As long as I have been aware of Digby, it has been through electronic media. And in the question of the ever-growing online world, I have tended to compare the reading experience to paper; this might well be the wrong context in the twenty-first century. She is good at what she does, but this is a quirk of the new era that continues to defy me.

That truncated second paragraph is not a quote; it is the next paragraph of her narrative. As one raised on paper, the last sentence of that first paragraph just reads strangely to me; without the embedded hyperlink, it makes no sense.

Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back.

Or … am I being pedantic?

Maybe I’m just too accustomed to the idea of the Martian eye, or alien anthropologists. Even as we find the internet today, hyperlinks can break. Imagine trying to put the record together sometime in the future.

____________________

Digby Parton, Heather. “The unprecedented nightmare of Donald Trump’s campaign: We’ve openly begun using the F-word in American politics”. Salon. 25 November 2015.

Perlstein, Rick. “Donald Trump and the ‘F-Word'”. The Washington Spectator. 30 September 2015.

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Happiness, Recalled

November 23, 2015

Ray BradburyIt occurred today that an associate recalled a particular thought experiment, which in turn sent me searching for a Ray Bradbury story. The Saturday Evening Post has been so kind as to offer an electronic copy of their 1957 presentation of the maestro’s story, “The Happiness Machine”, from Dandelion Wine.

Read. Enjoy. Be well.

―bd

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The Shadow Over Lovecraft

November 23, 2015

It is true I hold a soft spot for H. P. Lovecraft; his stories are among those that made me want to write. It is an unfortunate history, then, fraught with caveats; this is the problem:

First, Lovecraft―who wrote “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Colour Out of Space” and other influential tales of madness and “sentient blob[s] of self-shaping gelatinous flesh”―is one of weird fiction’s most celebrated authors. He is enshrined in the Library of America.H. P. Lovecraft Stephen King calls him “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” The author of the novel “Psycho,” Robert Bloch, once wrote, “Poe and Lovecraft are our two American geniuses of fantasy, comparable each to the other, but incomparably superior to all the rest who follow.”

Second, as Lovecraft’s letters―and, to a lesser extent, his stories―reveal, the guy harbored a fierce loathing for almost all non-WASPs. Blacks were “greasy chimpanzees,” in Lovecraft’s words. French-Canadians were a “clamorous plague.” New York’s Chinatown was “a bastard mess of stewing mongrel flesh.” And so on.

Phillip Eil’s explanation, for Salon, of the final distribution of Howards for the World Fantasy Award does, indeed, follow the gravity of the tale. It only goes downhill from there.

We can try making what excuses we want; he was a misanthrope, he was crazy, he was an extreme product of something whatnot whonow … er … right. It’s possible to do the five stages; I recommend skipping tracks to acceptance. Then again, neither do I know how many of the generation that comes after me even bothered with Lovecraft, so maybe my own years of reflecting on the question really are as useless as they have always felt.

Still, though. Sigh.

No, no, I’m not fretting for the trophies. It’s just, you know, it’s just one of those, This is why we can’t have nice things! feeling. Lovecraft, Koestler, Cosby. Sometimes it just hurts to face up to what all goes into the art we love, y’know?

But it’s true, he was a miserable, sickly, repulsive sort of genius.

―bd

____________________

Image note: H. P. Lovecraft in undated photo via Wikimedia.

Eil, Phillip. “The ghost that haunts American literature: The genius & the repugnance of H.P. Lovecraft”. Salon. 21 November 2015.

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