Positively Jones Street

1. Scientists have discovered linguistic signals indicating that sperm whales may refer to themselves by names when they speak. Sounds like the kind of fact Herman Melville would have been interested to hear. It also makes me think of T. S. Eliot’s cats with their “ineffable, deep and inscrutable singular names“.

2. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, a tremendously popular book of philosophical poetry first published in 1923, will be adapted into a film, apparently with a series of directors contributing interpretations of separate chapters.

3. Amanda Hocking, a 26-year-old self-published writer, has had amazing success with $.99 e-books. The story of her success is inspiring other e-book authors, but often with highly questionable results. Here’s more from The Next Web about the fast-growing field of indie/electronic self-publishing.

4. Isn’t this what it’s really all about? A photographer and her boyfriend recreate romance novel covers.

5. Marcy Dermansky reviews — and likes — the new film version of Jane Eyre.

6, Talk about all work and no play. Stanley Kubrick was a great filmmaker, but he must have been a bastard to work for.

7. Rediscovering The Dionysiaca of Nonnus, a little-known ancient epic poem celebrating the classical God of divine ecstasy.

8. Alberto Granado, Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries sidekick, has died.

9. Kathryn Valentine of the 80s new-wave band The Go-Gos is writing a heartfelt memoir on Twitter about her life as a rock star.

10. Mike Watt’s new record Hyphenated-Man is about being a middle-aged rocker.

11. Eric Rosenfeld’s hopeful thoughts on literature beyond categories.

12. Steve Mitchelmore explicates this quote from Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello: “Kafka stays awake during the gaps when we are sleeping.”.

13. Bret Easton Ellis analyzes Charlie Sheen.

14. Check out Broadcastr, a localized storytelling service from the innovative folks who bring you Electric Literature.

15. The really great Morning News Tournament of Books is taking place right now. I check it every morning. I think Freedom or Bad Marie (already knocked out, but not dead) should win, but I suspect Jennifer Egan’s Goon Squad will take it. I haven’t read this book yet, but you all know about my aversion to books that get their titles from Elvis Costello songs.

16. Did you recognize anything familiar in the image on the top of the page? After I heard that Bob Dylan’s one-time girlfriend Suze Rotolo had died, I decided to visit the street where she and Bob posed for one of the most fetching album covers of all time. Here’s the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, from 1962.

I wanted to take a photo of the exact spot as it exists today, and I waited till late afternoon so that Jones Street, a small and humble byway in New York City’s West Village, would be bathed by evening light. I’m no expert photographer, but I think I caught the light just right.

Suze Rotolo was the subject of some of Bob Dylan’s best and most impassioned love songs and anger songs. One of the all-time best breakup songs of all time is his jaunty minor-key anthem “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”. This song was written for Suze Rotolo, with whom Bob apparently kept breaking up and getting back together, and the words drip with sarcasm.

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could’ve done better but, I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
but don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I wish there were something we could do or say
To try to make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talking anyway
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

The funny thing is that this song was on the album that featured their rosy faces on the cover. The lovely ironies of Jones Street … which, forty years later, looks exactly like as it did in 1962.

10 Responses

  1. I am extremely worried of the
    I am extremely worried of the Amanda-Hocking-Effect. Writing conventions will get more and more disagreeable as the unpublished and desperate will start waging the war of jealousy with the published. It already started and it can only get worse.

  2. “The Next Web” link I tried
    “The Next Web” link I tried messed with my computer, but I’m thinking about the e-book route with no knowledge of the pros and cons (or, more immediately, the hows),so thanks for the reference.

    And I really liked your use of the word “fetching.”

  3. Benoit,
    I’m interested in


    I’m interested in what you are saying, but I don’t really understand the point you are making.

  4. Shelley, the link works for
    Shelley, the link works for me — has anyone else had problems with the “Next Web” link in #3?

    TKG, I don’t know exactly what Benoit meant but I took it to mean that any inklings of any kind of success among writers will only make other writers even more crazed and desperate for success. I think he was at least half jesting … and he’s probably correct.

  5. In past economic downturns,
    In past economic downturns, the public has shown its willingness to pay reasonable prices for reading material. The dime novel in this country, the penny dreadful in England, and now, the 99 cent ebook. And look at this

  6. p.s. No, the “next web” link
    p.s. No, the “next web” link isn’t working for me, either. It looks like it’s trying to come through, but got stuck.

  7. About the “Next Web” broken
    About the “Next Web” broken link, it must be a browser thing. I use Google Chrome and it works fine in that browser.

    Ironic that a publication called “The Next Web” wouldn’t maintain full browser compatibility!

  8. Bill, great point. I like
    Bill, great point. I like it. I was curious about Benoit’s comments because I think this is a great fantastic wonderful good trend.

    I like the idea of going directly to the public and not needing to be part of a big book publishing corporation.

    It isn’t feasible for solid books. But the Kindle format is nice. Low pricing means people will check it out.

    Of course there can be a lot of really really bad books put out there, but attrition will bring the cream to the top. And blogs become more important for word of mouth.

    It is a publishing revolution.

    I hope it can bring about a greater variety of literature. It will also bring about a greater amount of dreck, but that’s OK.

  9. By the way the Next link
    By the way the Next link worked fine for me and I’m using Firefox.

    Levi, I notice you include Mike Watt in your updates a lot? Are you an old Minutemen fan?

    The Minutemen were the greatest band I saw live. Their recordings could never capture their greatness live and D Boons greatness. I saw them many times in the early 80’s when we were all barely out of our teens. I was in a band that played with them and Black Flag and the like, so I saw them a lot. I’ll always remember one show where we opened for them Husker Du and Black Flag. It was right after Henry Rollins took over for Dez as singer for Black Flag. Henry was quiet and intense and never seemed to talk (unlike later). But I remember how we watched the Minutemen from the side stage area and Henry was so in to them that he played air drums the whole set. The Minutemen really were that great live back in 1981.

    I say this because when you cite Mike Watt’s endeavors it always brings me back and I like to see that other people appreciate these things still after all these years.

  10. That’s cool, TKG — I never
    That’s cool, TKG — I never got to see the Minutemen live, but I did see Mike Watt perform one of his rock operas (it was about his father on a ship) after D. Boon died.

    I actually missed the whole Minutemen moment when it happened, but heard of him when I co-edited “Coffeehouse: Writings From The Web” in the 90s — my co-editor was a big fan and contacted Mike Watt to get a piece of his in the book. I didn’t deal much with him directly but I could see he was a class act, and a hell of a bass guitar player too.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!