Of The Farm

1. It’s amusing to learn that Faber and Faber editor T. S. Eliot rejected George Orwell’s Animal Farm, explaining to Orwell that he sided with the pigs. Since Eliot was a deeply committed political elitist, this position is at least consistent. But I wish George Orwell could have taken a few shots back at Eliot for going on to give the world Rum Tum Tugger and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

2. Evan Schnittman of Oxford University Press has kicked off a promising new book-biz blog, Black Plastic Glasses, with a provocative argument: e-books must fail, because the pricing structure cannot support the production of books on the same scale as the current print-based model. However, Schnittman paints the current state of publishing as a near-disaster, rife with inflated advances and high return rates. He describes a brisk business in hardcover mass shipments that bring in cash flow even though the publishers eventually have to return the money for unsold inventory, which sounds like the same kind of pyramid-scheme con game as securitized subprime mortgages or credit default swaps. What’s Schnitmann up to here? His article seems to be trying to bury the current book publishing model even as it pretends to praise it.

3. I enjoyed participating in (and telling you about) a Vol 1 music/storytelling event at Matchless Cafe in Brooklyn last year. The next installment takes place April 9 and features a six-word story (memoir) slam. Should be something to see!

4. The folks behind HBO’s under-appreciated Def Poetry Jam are trying a new angle. Brave New Voices, a reality show about competing poetry slam teams from around the USA, debuts on April 5.

5. The Morning News’ 2009 Tournament of Books, always a rousing encounter, ends with a surprise victory for Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, narrowly beating out Tom Piazza’s City of Refuge. I guess I’ll have to read A Mercy now. I liked Beloved more than I expected to, and I expect I’ll like this one too.

6. Get a personalized Penguin Classic paperback (like, say, this one). Neat.

7. John Updike’s Pennsylvania.

8. Oxford University Press’s list of obscure literary terms offers some nice surprises. I now know that I’ve experienced jouissance, that I dislike the use of adynaton, that I’ve been writing a feuilleton, and that hapax legomenon is the pre-Internet version of googlewhack. Good stuff.

9. Andrew Sullivan is absolutely right that the legal harassment of marijuana smokers, many of them honorable and hardworking citizens “in the closet”, is an abomination that needs to end.

10. Barnes and Noble Review reviews Harvey Kurtzman’s Humbug, also featuring Will Elder, Arnold Roth, Jack Davis and Al Jaffee.

4 Responses

  1. the most interesting to me
    the most interesting to me was #10, and unfortunately, state by state can get some sort of control over their own citizens, but cigarette companies have any dream of legalizing, and taxing it, shut down right now, and i imagine for quite some time.

    it does amaze me how much stigma, and how ignorant people are. like, do you know a solid number of felons who are locked up for 10+ for having weed, and intent to sell it? people accept “selling drugs” as a crime because the state says it is, but do we know the history, and why it should or should not be a crime? or do we just accept it at face value, and not question it? yea, pot smokers are lazy, hippies who have no future nor motivation. is it the machine, or is it the user? lol.

  2. I just finished teaching
    I just finished teaching Animal Farm to my kids. The staff loved the bit about the pigs.

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