All posts in books

The Importance of W.H. Auden

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Auden is probably my favorite poet next to Wallace Stevens. My older son’s middle name is Auden. I come back to his work several times a year, perhaps more frequently than any other writer, because his voice is perennially perfect. My favorite work is Age of Anxiety. Two wonderful things to spend time with if you’re interested in getting to know him better: “Tell Me the Truth About Love“, a documentary about Auden on YouTube, and this wonderful piece “The Secret Auden” which reveals some incredible private stories about the man, who he was in private, and how hard he worked to hold some of that back from the public. My favorite story involves him quietly gifting a manuscript to a friend in need of medical care he couldn’t afford. The manuscript was sold to the University of Texas and the friend received the treatment he needed. Lots more wonderful stories in that piece.

And of course you should listen to him recite “As I Walked Out One Evening“.

David Grubbs, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording

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“What does it mean to describe a recording as being of a moment in which it did not circulate? Conversely, what does it mean to describe previously inaccessible music as participating in a later moment in which it resonates more powerfully?” Sign up to get notified when the book is ready to order. From the Duke Press about the book:

John Cage’s disdain for records was legendary. He repeatedly spoke of the ways in which recorded music was antithetical to his work. In Records Ruin the Landscape, David Grubbs argues that, following Cage, new genres in experimental and avant-garde music in the 1960s were particularly ill suited to be represented in the form of a recording. These activities include indeterminate music, long-duration minimalism, text scores, happenings, live electronic music, free jazz, and free improvisation. How could these proudly evanescent performance practices have been adequately represented on an LP?

In their day, few of these works circulated in recorded form. By contrast, contemporary listeners can encounter this music not only through a flood of LP and CD releases of archival recordings but also in even greater volume through Internet file sharing and online resources. Present-day listeners are coming to know that era’s experimental music through the recorded artifacts of composers and musicians who largely disavowed recordings. In Records Ruin the Landscape, Grubbs surveys a musical landscape marked by altered listening practices.

Read more at The Wire.

Are You in a Hemingway Novel?

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The Toast has been killing it lately. And one section to never overlook when you catch up over there is the Books section, which last week put out this incredible “You know you’re a ___ if ___ ” post, “How to Tell If You’re in a Hemingway Novel“. It’s a list. Don’t tell me you didn’t chuckle out loud at #7: “A woman is looking at you. She is wearing her hat in a manner you find unbearably independent and mannish. You despise her.”

Also, I recently read his entire wikipedia entry and it’s nothing less that incredible. I never realized how little I knew about his life, health, death, and family. An incredible read all on its own.

Recovering the Classics

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Recovering the Classics is a collaboration between DailyLit, Harvard Bookstore, and Creative Action Network. Pulling original cover art from a variety of talented designers, Recovering the Classics offers customers a chance to buy a copy of a classic with the cover art they choose on the site. So many wonderful titles to choose from! Another wonderful reason to read a physical book once in a while (or gift one).

Via SwissMiss

Joel Meyerowitz “Taking My Time”

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Do check out the new book by renowned street photographer Joel Meyerowitz, Taking My Time. This article at the Guardian is a great companion if you’re unfamiliar with his work.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

“I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read.”

Please read Neil Gaiman’s piece in the Guardian.

Texts From William Carlos Williams

i don’t even know why i did that
i guess i thought it was one of those little ice cream cakes
you know the kind that they shape to look like cars or whatever
that shit was disgusting
hey do we have any ice cream cakes though
-wcw

Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes

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Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes are wonderful. This one is Catcher in the Rye. “When I’m out somewhere, I generally just eat a Swiss cheese sandwich and a malted milk. It isn’t much but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk. H. V. Caulfield. Holden Viatamin Caulfield.”

Salvador Dali’s MacBeth

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Head over to Open Culture for more looks at Dali’s illustrations for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and while you’re there enjoy all the links to other incredible things he worked on for others.

Google Scholar for Easy Bibliographies

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I’m sure my son will need this in middle school before too long: an easy to way to add citations to a document via Google Scholar. Simply Google the article/book title in Scholar, click ‘cite’ on the search results page and copy the MLA, APA, or Chicago citing into your document. Thanks to Afternoon Snooze Button for the tip!

Barthes Likes and Dislikes, Illustrated

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Visit Brain Pickings to see the beautiful illustration of Barthes’ dislikes, also beautifully done by Lynore Avery.

Salinger, a Documentary

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On the secrecy and challenges around producing and releasing the Salinger documentary:

Mr. Weinstein snapped up “Salinger” quickly after Mr. Salerno showed it to him at an unusual 7:30 a.m. screening on Feb. 24, the day of the Academy Awards, according to people familiar with the film, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. On his way to the ceremony he sealed a deal for the film that is part of a three-prong strategy, including an “American Masters” TV segment on PBS in January and an oral history in book form that Simon & Schuster is to publish in September in tandem with the film’s theatrical release.

It should be noted that Matthew Salinger, J.D.’s son, claims no one in the inner circle for the last 40 years has cooperated with the film. Should be interesting to watch how this unfolds. Read more at the NYT.

Be the Worst You Can Be

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Ernest Hemingway’s tips for writing fiction: “Don’t describe an emotion–make it.”

Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories

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By Roberto Bolano via D Berman.

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