April 15, 2017
Saturday is my copilot
by Melville House
Well, high fives are in order: if you’re reading this, it means that you have survived another 1.9% of 2017 and landed in the garden of earthly delights known as Saturday. Time to carry some cereal back to bed and, if possible, never leave. To help make that happen, here’s some fodder for the old browser window.
To start with, we, too, we who till the Melvillean ploughlands, who swing the Hermaneutic hammer, we have also had a week. Some highlights:
- Ryan Harrington wrote about what may just be the world’s first scratch-and-sniff book entirely about jazz cigarettes. Get excited, but please: practice moderation.
- Kait Howard checked in on ongoing efforts to save James Baldwin’s former house in France, a flashpoint in ongoing struggles over “who gets to represent… Baldwin’s legacy and who gets to speak about who he was.”
- Simon Reichley covered Georgia’s recent victory in a federal lawsuit against an independent publisher who wanted to put the state’s official, annotated legal code on the internet. Yikes.
Susan Rella wrote about the amazing journalists of a high school newspaper in Kansas, who recently lived the universal dream of all teenagedom by forcing their principal to resign.
- Taylor Sperry kept an eye on homophobes, prudes, and sui generis jerkface Bill Cosby by checking in with the American Library Association’s list of the books most often targeted by bans in 2016.
- Peter Clark discovered an amazing piece of technology that makes it possible to appear uninsightful and obnoxious to literally everyone you know. For computer users only!
- Just yesterday, Ian Dreiblatt wrote about the intense lack of books in Gaza, and what one local scholar of English lit is doing about it.
- Chad Felix preserved the Gospel of Wise Steve From First Period.
Julia Fleischaker looked into the reading habits of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Say what you want — could definitely be worse.
- Nikki Griffiths wrote about efforts to bring back the library of Mosul like a phoenix from ashes, and about the astonishing Mosul Eye blog more generally.
We also did some keeping up with past and future Melville House authors:
- Jacques Berlinerblau, whose practical and hilarious Campus Confidential: How College Works—Or Doesn’t—for Professors, Parents, and Students is forthcoming in June, wrote about the elusive identity of the American college professor.
- As you may know, today’s Tax Day (though fear not, fellow deadbeats — our actual deadline for filing this year doesn’t fall till Tuesday). The astounding David Cay Johnston has written about why he’s planning to spend the day going hoarse in the streets. Something to think about, maybe, for when that cereal’s done?
There were a couple stories this week that we just didn’t get to:
A cache of letters Sylvia Plath wrote to her shrink for the years immediately preceding her suicide at the age of thirty reveals that her bastard husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes told her he wished death on her, and beat her physically in the days preceding her miscarriage. Hughes’s estate calls the allegations “absurd,” which is bizarre insofar as it implies they would know. If you’re trying to understand what someone so brilliant was doing with such an asshole, boy oh boy have we got the book for you.
- In a bid to make publishing play fetch again, HarperCollins India has announced that their employees will be given paid “pawternity leave” when they adopt new pets. Yes! Woof! Yes! “We want the very best work-life balance for our colleagues,” explained Chief Executive Ananth Padmanabhan.
- There’s a novel currently up for the Hugo Award called Alien Stripper Boned from Behind by the T-Rex. The kicker? Dr. Chuck Tingle did not write it. Beth Elderkin interviewed the person who did, one Stix Hiscock (RIP subtlety, I guess (jk)), and you should probably read it.
- Over at Cosmopolitan, Carina Hsieh asked poet and Harvard professor Josh Bell to explain a louche turn of phrase in an execrably horrid Chainsmokers song. The results will push your needle firmly into the “not unamusing” region of the dial. Don’t share this with your tweens, unless you want to have some ’splainin’ to do, and prepare to never again have never read the words “having such good sex that it reanimates their rotting corpse.”
- Today would be a great day to listen to Ben Yarmolinksy’s opera “April 15 Blues.” We could not, alas, find it online, but here’s some video (and audio) of his three-opera “Blind Witness” cycle, with libretti by language poet Charles Bernstein.
We’re wishing a happy sixty-fifth birthday to the great Avital Ronell, author of The Telephone Book (but not, y’know, the telephone book).
And a verrrry happy birthday to the one and only Leonardo da Vinci! He’s 565 years young, and doesn’t look a day over 476!
We published one title in paperback this week:
Last but hardly least, you have lived until Saturday morning, and an excellent cartoon is your God-given right:
And just a reminder: if you were Bow Wow, this would’ve been the fifth straight week of your thirtieth birthday.