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  • feedwordpress 09:01:17 on 2017/12/12 Permalink
    Tags: Best of, books, Flaubert, , , , Madame Bovary, realism, , year's best   

    “I cannot choose one hundred best books because I have only written five”*… 

     

    Fernando Sdrigotti, The Situationist Guide to Parenting

    Since the arrival of twins, Spirulina and Ocelot, I have been indebted to my great friend and editor Fernando Sdrigotti for his invaluable parenting guide, inspired by the philosopher and alcoholic Guy Debord. No more awkward silences during the hours it seems to take the au pair to dry her hair — Sdrigotti’s guide provides no end of suitable conversation topics for bright 2 year olds, from Peppa Pig’s role in mediating social interactions between toddlers in the nursery to detourning the playground. Can’t afford another holiday abroad this year? Just remember, as Sdrigotti tells us, beneath each playpen lies the beach! The Situationist Guide to Parenting shifts the paradigm of the self-help genre, reinventing Sdrigotti as a Dr Spock for the modern dad.

    It’s that time again– time for a cascade of “year’s best” lists.  Here, from 3:am Magazine, a particularly satisfying one: from the tantalizing title above to such interest-piquers as Sima Nitram’s I Fucking Hate Don XL, George Glaciate-Furbisher’s Flenge’s Dictum, and Diana Smith-Higglebury, Reclaimed Territory: A post-Brexit Britain Household Companion, a list of books that one needn’t feel bad for not reading…  as they don’t exist.  Hilariously ridiculous authors, titles, and critical precis– wonder at what might have been at “3:am books of the year.”

    * Oscar Wilde

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    As we turn to books that we should perhaps actually read, we might send closely-observed birthday greetings to Gustave Flaubert; he was born on this date in 1821.  Best remembered now for his 1856 novel Madame Bovary, (and his meticulous devotion to his style and aesthetics), Flaubert reportedly woke at 10am every day and promptly hammered on his ceiling, to get his mother to come down and talk to him.

    Flaubert helped to introduce a new form of realism into fiction; as a consequence he and his work had considerable influence on later writers, from his protege Guy de Maupassant to Joseph Conrad and James Joyce.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:58 on 2017/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , books, , , , Freedon of Information, , , William O. Douglas   

    “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”*… 

     

    On the occasion of Banned Books Week– which begins today– a short film from the American Library Association on the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016:

    Read ’em or weep…

    * Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

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    As we get out our library cards, we might spare a thought for Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he died on this date in 1991.  After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.

    The more that you read,

    The more things you will know.

    The more that you learn,

    The more places you’ll go.

    – I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2017/07/24 Permalink
    Tags: Arthur Yorinks, books, , Colleen Doran, , , graphic novels, , Maurice Sendak, Presto and Zesto in Limboland,   

    “Childhood is a very, very tricky business”*… 

     

    Picture from Presto and Zesto in Limboland, ©2017 by the Maurice Sendak Foundation.

    Lynn Caponera, president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation, was going through the late artist’s files last year “to see what could be discarded,” she said. “I was asking myself, do we really need all these?” when she found a typewritten manuscript titled Presto and Zesto in Limboland, co-authored by Sendak and his frequent collaborator, Arthur Yorinks. Caponera, who managed Sendak’s household for decades, didn’t remember the two friends working on a text with that title, so she scanned the manuscript and e-mailed it to Michael di Capua, Sendak’s longtime editor and publisher.

    “I read it in disbelief,” said di Capua. “What a miracle to find this buried treasure in the archives. To think something as good as this has been lying around there gathering dust.”

    Not only is the manuscript complete, so, too, are the illustrations. Sendak created them in 1990 to accompany a London Symphony Orchestra performance of Leoš Janáček’s Rikadla, a 1927 composition that set a series of nonsense Czech nursery rhymes to music.

    Voila! So it is that Sendak, considered by many to be the most influential picture book creator of the 20th century, will have another publication in the 21st, five years after his death…

    Happy endings at: “New Maurice Sendak Picture Book Discovered.”

    * Maurice Sendak

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    As we go Where the Wild Things Are, we might send powerfully-drawn birthday greetings to Colleen Doran; she was born on this date in 1964.  A write, artist, illustrator, and cartoonist, she has illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines. She has illustrated the works of Neil Gaiman (her drawings and adaptation of his “Troll Bridge” was a New York Times bestseller), Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Tori Amos; her credits include: The Sandman, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen TitansThe Vampire Diaries comics, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and her space opera series, A Distant Soil… for which she has received Eisner, Harvey, and International Horror Guild Awards.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:00 on 2017/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: , books, Cabaret Voltaire, , , Hugo Ball, , public library, trash,   

    “Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book”*… 

     

    For 20 years, Columbian rubbish-collector Jose Alberto Gutierrez has been holding on to the books he finds while on his rounds in Bogota.

    After two decades his collection totals more than 20,000 books – many of them thrown away by the people of the Colombian capital, now given a new life in the huge library Jose has amassed.  The books take up several rooms in the Gutierrez family home, from where they’re lent out to neighbors through a free community library, which Jose runs with the help of his wife, Luz Mery Gutierrez, and their three children…

    Check it out at: “This dustbin man built a huge public library from books other people had thrown away.”

    * Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

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    As we pile ’em high, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that the first and only edition of the magazine Cabaret Voltaire was published, containing work by Hugo Ball, Kandinsky, Jean (Hans) Arp, Modigliani, and the first printing of the word “Dada.”  The (not so) periodical was named for the nightclub that Ball has started earlier in the year in Zurich with help from friends including Arp and Tristan Tzara.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:10 on 2017/05/16 Permalink
    Tags: , books, , prison, tabs, ,   

    “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers”*… 

     

    Discover a new book every time you open a new tab: add 100 Million Books to your browser.

    * Charles William Eliot

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    As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1717 that Voltaire (François Marie Arouet), the “Father of the Age of Reason.” was imprisoned for the first time in the Bastille for writing “subversive literature.”  He would subsequently be imprisoned again, and forced in exile.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:07 on 2017/04/27 Permalink
    Tags: bibliography, books, Fireworks Music, Handel, , , , ,   

    “If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better”*… 

     

    It’s official. Science has decided that old books smell “smoky,” “earthy,” and more than anything, “woody.”

    That’s based on findings released today by Cecilia Bembibre and Matija Strlič, researchers at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, who have been working to capture, analyze, and catalog historic and culturally important scents. The scientists collected the responses of visitors to St Paul’s Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter library in London, asking them to describe the smell and later compiling the results in a document they’re calling the Historic Book Odour Wheel…

     Take a whiff at “The Odor ‘Wheel’ Decoding the Smell of Old Books.”

    * Ray Bradbury

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    As we breathe it in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1749 that George Frideric Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks— or Fireworks Music, as it’s commonly known — premiered in a specially-constructed theater in St. James park in London.

    The display was not as successful as the music itself: the weather was rainy, and in the middle of the show the pavilion caught fire.

    The ill-fated site of the premiere

    source (and larger version)

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:59 on 2017/04/03 Permalink
    Tags: books, , life-span, , , Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, , Washington Irving   

    So many books, so little time”*… 

     

    There are millions of books in the world (and almost definitely hundreds of millions—last they checked, Google had the count at 129,864,880, and that was seven years ago). The rabid and/or competitive readers among you will now be asking yourselves: yes, yes, now how will I read them all?

    Well, you won’t…

    A logical method for figuring out “How many books will you read before you die?

    Then, increase your count with:  “How to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year, According to Harvard Research.”

    * Frank Zappa (riffing on an age-old theme)

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    As we memento mori, we might send imaginative birthday greetings to Washington Irving; he was born on this date in 1783.  A short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat, he was America’s first genuine internationally best-selling author.  While best remembered for stories like “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.), he also wrote biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith, and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects including Christopher Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra; he served as the U.S. ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846.

    Mathew Brady’s copy of an original daguerreotype by John Plumbe

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:01 on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: air travel, books, , , , in-flight, ,   

    “Panem et circenses”*… 

     

    There was a time when in-flight entertainment was better than anything you could actually bring onto a plane. That time has long passed…

    The past– and future– of in-flight entertainment: “Are you not entertained?

    * “Bread and circuses,” Juvenal

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    As we remember that books are a joyous way to pass a fight, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904.  After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.

    The more that you read,

    The more things you will know.

    The more that you learn,

    The more places you’ll go.

    I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:40 on 2017/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: books, , , Name of the Rose, semiology, , , Umberto Eco,   

    “I just enjoy translating, it’s like opening one’s mouth and hearing someone else’s voice emerge”*… 

     

    The Highbrow Struggles of Translating Modern Children’s Books Into Latin.”

    * Iris Murdoch

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    As we try transliteration, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Umberto Eco; he was born on this date in 1932.  Most widely known as a novelist (primarily for his international best seller The Name of the Rose), Eco was also a literary critic, philosopher, and university professor highly-regarded in academic circles for his contributions to semiology.

    An occasional translator, Eco once remarked, “translation is the art of failure.”

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:27 on 2016/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: Barnum, books, , Greatest Show on Earth, , , showman, , Timbuktu,   

    “Let us save what remains”*… 

     

    On Friday morning, January 25, 2013, 15 jihadis entered the restoration and conservation rooms on the ground floor of the Ahmed Baba Institute in Sankoré, a government library in Mali. The men swept 4,202 manuscripts off lab tables and shelves and carried them into the tiled courtyard. They doused the manuscripts—including 14th- and 15th-century works of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, their fragile pages covered with algebraic formulas, charts of the heavens, and molecular diagrams—in gasoline. Then they tossed in a lit match. The brittle pages and their dry leather covers ignited in a flash.

    In minutes, the work of Timbuktu’s greatest savants and scientists, preserved for centuries, hidden from the 19th-century jihadis and French conquerors, survivors of floods, bacteria, water, and insects, were consumed by the inferno.

    In the capital city of Bamako 800 miles away, the founder of Timbuktu’s Mamma Haidara Library, a scholar and community leader named Abdel Kader Haidara, saw the burning of the manuscripts as a tragedy—and a vindication of a remarkable plan he’d undertaken. Starting with no money besides the meager sum in his savings account, the librarian had recruited a loyal circle of volunteers, badgered and shamed the international community into funding the scheme, raised $1 million, and hired hundreds of amateur smugglers in Timbuktu and beyond. Their goal? Save books…

    The whole heart-warming story at “The Great Library Rescue of Timbuktu.”

    * Thomas Jefferson

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    As we check it out, we might wish a spectacularly happy birthday to Phineas Taylor (“P.T.”) Barnum; he was born on this date in 1810.  Barnum founded and ran a small business, then a weekly newspaper in his native Connecticut before leaving for New York City and the entertainment business.  He parlayed a variety troop and a “curiosities” museum (featuring the ‘”Feejee” mermaid’ and “General Tom Thumb”) into a fortune…  which he lost in a series of legal setbacks.  He replenished his stores by touring as a temperance speaker, then served as a Connecticut State legislator and as Mayor of Bridgeport (a role in which he introduced gas lighting and founded the Bridgeport hospital)… It wasn’t until after his 60th birthday that he turned to endeavor for which he’s best remembered– the circus.

    “I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.”

    source: Library of Congress

     
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