1. I mentioned in my recent disdainful coverage of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader that electronic books will succeed only when they can be read on general purpose mobile devices instead of dedicated hardware. This Tech Crunch article offers a surprising glimpse at the success of mobile-phone based popular literature in Japan, where (if I understand this correctly) it is becoming common practice not only to read novels on handhelds, but also to write them on handheld devices. I’m not sure if I understand why it makes a difference whether a novel is written on a mobile device or not (nor can I imagine myself writing a novel with my thumbs). But I do think that pundits of electronic literature should read this article and see what lessons they might pick up.
2. The Litblog Co-op, after quietly missing a beat this fall, is back! We’ve picked a very good novel this time around: The Farther Shore by debut novelist Matthew Eck. Dan Wickett provides a good introduction on the LBC site to this harsh, slim novel about a small group of American soldiers lost in an East African battle zone. I’ll be running an interview with Matthew Eck here on LitKicks next week, and pointing to other LBC sites that will also feature the book.
3. Matthew Eck’s novel paints a descent into a heart of darkness in East Africa, near a beach, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Eck was inspired by Joseph Conrad, who painted a descent into a heart of darkness in West/Central Africa, near a river. This is Joseph Conrad’s 150th birthday, noted at The Guardian (via Conversational Reading) and The Independent (via Saloon).
5. But please do take this nonsense seriously, from Seattle’s The Stranger: “The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America” by the irrepressible Tao Lin. Finally the glass ceiling is revealed.
6. Had a very nice time at the Small Press Book Fair in midtown Manhattan yesterday. I enjoyed a trivia challenge featuring New York Review of Books kicking the slightly sorry butts of A Public Space, who really only shined when the questions involved Edgar Allan Poe. Tim Brown was a deft and witty MC, and as Ed describes a few of us litbloggers in attendance confronted him afterwards with our desire to compete for the title. Elsewhere in the show, I enjoyed running into travel author Darrin Duford and meeting the mastermind behind Disruptive Publishing, a seriously underground publisher of odd and highly censorable books including the remains of the legendary Olympia Press catalog.
UPDATE: Eric Rosenfield from Wet Asphalt sends another report from the trivia challenge, including a great action shot of me and Ed Champion whispering the correct answer to a question that floored the A Public Space group as Sarah Weinman knowingly smiles. If you are curious, the correct answer to the question was “Becket”. No, not Beckett: Becket. The question, naturally, was “who got killed in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral“.