June 16, 2018
Has it really only been seven days since last week?
by Melville House
Alright, people! We’ve done it again: survived the cruel procession of indignities and predations, the foul and pestilent congregation of vapors, known as “this past week.” Let’s face it, it hasn’t been easy.
But we’ve made it, and here we are. Stupid old 2018 is now 45¾% over, Donald The Terrible is seventy-two years old, Paul Manafort’s back in jail, and many of us could use a minute to catch our breath. Here on the blog, there’s been an awful lot going on:
- Tom Clayton got very serious about the literary implications of the World Cup, which, for Americans, non-sports-folks, and others who may not know, is a big series of soccer games. Bet on Leibniz.
- Michael Barron looked at the new Apple Books, which seems a little better than iBooks and a little worse than holding pressed tree pulp in your hands.
- Taylor Sperry looked at a ballot proposal in California that would split the state in three, and, tearing a page from David Faris’s It’s Time to Fight Dirty, suggested that three is not nearly enough.
- Michael Seidlinger wrote about the decline of the “big deal” model of academic journal subscriptions. Don’t know how to put this, but…
- Simon Reichley covered two VUADs (Very Unpleasant Amazon Developments): the company’s work with Foxconn, widely noted for its horrendous human rights record, and its successful recent attempt to control lawmaking in the city of Seattle. Just a thought, but — fuck Amazon.
- Susan Rella pointed out a typo, as is her wont — but this time, it’s a typo that has massive and horrible implications for the victims of workplace sexual misconduct.
- Alex Primiani lifted some noodles (and some language) in memory of the great Anthony Bourdain, whose death last week is just beginning to set in for many of us.
- Ryan Harrington, hearing the break whistle at his local steel plant, told us all about Belt Publishing, a Midwest-based house devoted to books about the Midwest. It was all very nice and mayonnaisey!
- Nikki Griffiths wrote about the knascent knighthood of Waterstones founder Tim Waterstone. Knoted knight Sir Mix-A-Lot could not be reached for comment.
- Ian Dreiblatt covered the brewing story of philosopher Avital Ronell, who appears to be under investigation for sexual misconduct at NYU.
- Stephanie DeLuca got really excited for the Stranger Things books forthcoming from Penguin Random House and Netflix. Leggo her eggo!
There were also, inevitably, stories we didn’t quite get to:
- Grimes’s boyfriend has said that the philosophy underlying his actions is “pretty simple & mostly influenced by Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov.” The New Republic’s Sarah Jones spoke for humanity when she replied, “😬.”
- Noted offensive sombrero-wearer, shit-stirring novelist, and increasingly tiresome public figure Lionel Shriver wrote a not-super-hinged broadside against Penguin Random House, attacking the compant’s commitment to diversity. It was tiresome to many, and certainly unpersuasive to PRH, which responded, with perfect intelligence, that it was “actively seeking out talented writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves” — a goal it’s hard to imagine anyone reasonably objecting to. The women’s lit mag Mslexia removed Shriver as a judgealso of their upcoming short story competition.
- A few weeks ago, we covered Maryland’s attempts to limit its prisoners’ access to books. In an example of the rare phenomenon known as “good news,” that policy has been reversed.
- Did you hear the one about the Portuguese library full of bats where bats are welcome and everyone is grateful for the presence of the bats?
- Fifty-one years ago, the excellent and helpful townsfolk of Wichita, Kansas gathered in the hundreds to move their local library’s books to a shiny new facility. Today, they’ll gather in the hundreds again—hopefully at least 500—to help carry heaps of books from the city’s Central Library to its new Advanced Learning Library. The trip is just under three-quarters of a mile, and will involve crossing the Arkansas River. This is wholesomeness itself. In the time it took you to read it, this article has baked several batches of fresh cookies. They are exactly as chewy as you like them.
And finally, you have survived a full sequence of six temporal units that do not rhyme with “batter play,” earning, in the process, your right to a cartoon. This week, an excellent one: 1963’s The Critic, by Ernest Pintoff and Mel Brooks. It is joy. You will love it. And it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short! Mel Brooks saying, in his exaggerated Yiddish accent, “Could dis be de sex life of two things?” may be one of the high points of human culture so far. Pintoff died in 2002; Brooks’s ninety-second birthday is next Saturday.
That’s it for now — rest up, drink plenty of water, and we’ll see you right back here on Monday, when things, presumably, will be strange once again.