Seems like one of those days where I’ve got lots of little things but nothing I want to take a whole post to talk about. It is a day for bullet points!
- The TLS has a review of the Patricia Meyer Spacks book I started reading, On Rereading and a book by Jonathan Yardley called Second Reading. It makes me more excited about Spacks’s book which I haven’t had time to pick up since I began it last weekend. Not sure if I’m interested in Yardley’s book. From the review:
However, the ends to which the two books’ personal reading histories are turned are markedly different: Spacks sets out, quite deliberately, to approach from several angles the relationships between sameness and difference (or, as she calls it, “the stability–change continuum”) across a life of reading and rereading; Yardley’s revisitings of forgotten books, on the other hand, can often read as attempts to save those books not just from obscurity, but from the erroneous and fickle tastes that put them there in the first place.
In the long term, neither the supposed fiat of academics and “literati”, nor the consensus of non-professional readers, will, in isolation, define the lasting value of books; if rereading (whether Spacks’s exhilarating meditations on pleasure or Yardley’s no-nonsense empiricism) teaches us anything, it is that the conjunctions between readerly and textual lives will always be unpredictable and promiscuous ones. “What did you make of that book?”, runs the conventional phrase. As we revisit the objects of our reading, like recognizable but weathered landmarks, there can be no full going back, because we are not exactly the same people we were; but the consolation of rereading is the knowledge that we are these different people in part because of what those books have made of us.
I am also happy to report that I have Anne Fadiman’s Rereadings on my bookshelf as well as Wendy Lesser’s Nothing Remains the Same. I had not anticipated the pursuit of the idea of rereading to become a mini-project, but it appears that it is about to.
- There has been much in the news lately about the US Department of Justice suing Apple and six publishers for price-fixing on e-books. At first I thought the suit was a good thing because retailers should be allowed to price the items they sell however they want to. But while price-fixing is bad, big companies like Amazon being able to undercut the competition and narrow the market for e-books to almost exclusively be sold by Amazon, well, that’s not good either. Author Charles Stross has a blog post that helps sort things out a bit.Here is a taste:
If the major publishers switch to selling ebooks without DRM, then they can enable customers to buy books from a variety of outlets and move away from the walled garden of the Kindle store. They see DRM as a defense against piracy, but piracy is a much less immediate threat than a gigantic multinational with revenue of $48 Billion in 2011 (more than the entire global publishing industry) that has expressed its intention to “disrupt” them, and whose chief executive said recently “even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation” (where “innovation” is code-speak for “opportunities for me to turn a profit”).
And so they will deep-six their existing commitment to DRM and use the terms of the DoJ-imposed settlement to wiggle out of the most-favoured-nation terms imposed by Amazon, in order to sell their wares as widely as possible.
Dennis Johnson at Melville House has some things to say about Amazon too at MobyLives. Johnson also has another great post on what is currently happening with the lawsuit and what publishers might be able to do to defend themselves with a post on How to Fight the DOJ: a possible defense.
- You’ve probably all heard the Pulitzer for fiction was not awarded because the judges couldn’t come to an agreement on which book of the final three should be chosen. I was very disappointed and I think it’s really stupid to not be able to choose a winner. Ann Patchett says it best (via) though in her NY Times piece:
So far I’ve been able to come up with two [reasons the prize was withheld]: either the board was unable to reach a consensus, or at the end of the day the board members decided that none of the finalists, and none of the other books that were not finalists, were worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.
What I am sure of is this: Most readers hearing the news will not assume it was a deadlock. They’ll just figure it was a bum year for fiction.
I agree with Patchett, most are going to assume it was a deadlock and that none of the fiction finalists were any good. This hurts not only the authors but publishing too. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the deliberations. I find it hard to believe that none of the panel was passionate enough about a particular book to sway anyone else in its favor. Or has the Pulitzer panel been taking lessons from the US Congress where everyone takes a side and refuses to budge?
A little variety today. Hopefully you’ll find at least one of them interesting.