March 22, 2012
Geoff Dyer: The Literary Establishment and Me (in the Guardian)
"[T]he [literary] establishment presumably comprises literary agencies and publishing houses, some of whom have more sway than others. In London these publishers would include Jonathan Cape and Faber; in New York, Knopf and FSG. At a human level there are the editors at these houses, and the literary editors of papers and periodicals (some of which wield more of what my late Italian publisher termed 'power-clout' than others), who decide which books to review and who to ask to review them. Then there are the people who get asked to sit on prize-giving panels, who decide which books to honour, and academics within the English departments at universities who decide which books to teach and canonise. Hang on, I feel sure I'm forgetting at least one other important category of person. Ah, right, stupid me … the writers!"
Read the whole thing here: http://tinyurl.com/6wwsy7x
March 19, 2012
From the New York Times:
"Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life."
Yeah, that's what we're talkin' about...
Read the whole article here: http://tinyurl.com/7ptvdho
March 16, 2012
Q: What happens when fiction pretends to be fact?
A: Everybody gets mad.
But does that change the effect of the fiction?
"[A]lthough readers who were informed that the previously factual piece was actually fictional developed a negative opinion of the author, they did not change their opinions regarding the content of thestory. That is, attitudes and opinions that were changed as a result of reading a supposedly factual piece were not altered when that piece was revealed to be fictional. This... demonstrates the power of fiction, in that understanding a story often entails incorporating that information into our own beliefs and this process can be difficult to reverse."
Read the Keith Oatley's full blog post here: http://www.onfiction.ca/
March 9, 2012
"Reif Larsen... makes an obvious but often unmentioned point: the book is a technology born of its circumstances, and ancient ones at that. Around the first century B.C.E. in Rome, the codex’s bound papyrus or leather membranae replaced the polyptych’s wax or wooden tablets (imagine the world’s bulkiest three-ringbinder), making it possible to compile information at greater length and less weight. Unlike wax tablets, books didn’t break or melt, and unlike scrolls, they could be quickly thumbed through to locate a desired passage. Students could carry them to their lectures, generals could mail them to the hinterland, and pagans could hide them in their robes. It was a revolutionary invention. But now consider the e-book, displayed on a slim electronic tablet, which can relay exponentially more information at even less weight, with even greater functionality. The proponent of paper books will one day sound 'like a Victorian–era man arguing the benefits of candelight over Edison’s newfangled electric lanterns,' Larsen writes. Indeed, an e-book needs multiple pages and a cardboard cover like a lightbulb needs wax. "
read the whole article here: http://nplusonemag.com/bones-of-the-book