February 3, 2018
Thy weekend come, thy blog be done
by Melville House
Great news, people: February is at long last upon us. If you’re reading this, it means you’ve officially gotten over the first thirty-one little humps of 2018. Congrats!
And now it’s Saturday (ooh! ooh!) and we, as is our wont, are thinking back over the week that’s been — the dizzying highs, the dazzling lows, the soft, creamy middles. Come, friend, and let us walk back together:
- Peter Clark walked us through his expectations for HBO’s upcoming Fahrenheit 451 adaptation, complete with clips of Truffaut’s semi-deranged 1966 interpretation.
- Stephanie DeLuca gave us the tale of Virginia Woolf: Instagram Star.
- Ian Dreiblatt checked in on the continuing story of Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, who won the Prix Voltaire this week, and has not been heard from since he was abducted—again—by Chinese security forces several weeks ago.
- Nikki Griffiths reported back from this year’s Costa Awards, where, for the second time, book of the year has gone to a posthumous collection of poetry. Some good, sad news.
- Ryan Harrington had ninety-nine problems, but a lack of engaging OED citations was, y’know, nowhere among them.
- Susan Rella caught up with some sun-drenched Floridian booksellers and their water-drenched stock.
- Simon Reichley noted a sudden uptick of activity in the e-book market, which has for years kept pretty quiet. Several relevant experts were unavailable for comment.
- Taylor Sperry found, in the remote wilds of the Pacific Northwest, another press that is publishing only women in 2018.
- Michael Barron updated us on the literary overtones of this year’s Grammy Awards.
We were also delighted to publish:
- These ruminations from Lynda Schuster, author of Dirty Wars and Polished Silver, on the often-too-porous wall dividing newspapers’ newsrooms and editorial pages. “Where, oh where, is Clark Kent when we need him?”
- This Q&A with In Every Moment We Are Still Alive author Tom Malmquist. “The situation was intense, naturally intense, chaotic. I wanted to create the feeling of a strong torrent, a deluge.”
- The second installment in our new series, The Week in Impeachment, in which Barbara Radnofsky, author of A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, offers a straightforward list of actions taken by the president over the past seven days for which he can be impeached. Easy, breezy, and very beautiful.
As ever, there were a couple stories we just didn’t have time for:
- The start of 2018—you remember 2018, right?—also marked the beginning of an agreement between LibraryLink NJ, the state-run nonprofit that oversees the Garden State’s libraries, and Expak, a delivery service that contracted to delivery books between branches. A month into the year, officials are steamed: Expak wasn’t ready to start on time and hasn’t met its commitments, leaving more than 80,000 books in limbo and inter-library loan services suspended in many counties. And now, having screwed over libraries and their patrons, the company has announced its plans to unceremoniously void the contract. In other words, New Jersey can’t fire them, they quit! (Big thanks to @QuidditchFan731 for updating us on this most recent development!)
- Greg Gianforte, is back at it. Gianforte, you will remember, is the businessperson who body-slammed a reporter last year while running as a Republican for Montana’s sole senate seat and then got elected anyway, before proceeding to plead guilty to assault, pretend to agree to an interview with the reporter he’d beat up, and pretend to agree to a discussion with the Committee to Protect Jounralists. Now, he’s been selected by the National Republican Congressional Committee to lead a communications workshop this month? Just don’t make him angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.
Judith Curr is stepping down as president and publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Atria Publishing Group, effective immediately. S&S CEO and would-be inside voice of American fascism Carolyn Reidy was quick to praise her for publishing The Secret.
- Something interesting you might not have known about: this 50,000-volume Kazakh library of books related to Turkey.
- In sadder news, Welsh librarian Elizabeth Macregor has been conivcted and sentenced to eight months in prison after stealing hundreds of books and attempting to sell them online; to make matters worse, Macregor apparently tried to burn or trash much of the evidence when she realized authorities might be onto her. Heartbreakingly, evidence at her trial protrayed her as mentally ill, and deeply lonely. She has a new job now, at Public Health Wales, which hopefully will go better. The only pleasant thing about this story, really, is that it takes place in a town with the Welshest name imaginable: Rhondda Cynon Taff.
We published one book this week:
(That one’s a doozy, by the way, as you can learn by reading this excerpt, or checking out Katie Kitamura’s front-page review in this week’s New York Times Book Review.)
And finally: it’s Saturday morning, that mythical time when cartoons reign supreme. Today’s is a treat, one of the first cartoons ever made. Gertie the Dinosaur was originally a part of animator Winsor McCay’s vaudeville act — McCay would issue commands to the impish dino, and she, demurely, would comply. When the act grew too successful, McCay’s boss, the notorious William Randolph Hearst, pulled the plug, prompting him to create a short film introduction to the animation so it would make sense without the live theatrical component.
It’s beautiful, historic, and cute as hell. Enjoy.
Take good care, eat your broccoli, and we’ll see you right back here first thing Monday. Oh, yeah, and here’s one more Rockwell before we go: