Monthly Archives: October 2010

The PW Morning Report: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 27th, 2010

Today’s Links…

Rejection Letter or Worse: The Millions looks at the state of the rejection letter in the digital age.

Jane Austen’s Editor: A scholar tells NPR about manuscripts that show Austen must have had a very good editor to help her turn her error-ridden writing into the polished prose we know.

Video Book Review Strikes Again: Ron Charles returns with a Halloween-themed video review of Susan Fletcher’s Corrag.

Classic Characters in the Digital Age: Salon wonders how characters from classic works of fiction would have adapted to the digital age.

New Nook vs. Amazon and Sony: Paid Content wonders about the impact of B&N’s new Nook Color on the old e-readers.

Zombie Books: The Washington Post rounds up five books about zombies for your Halloween reading.

PW Best Books 2010: The Frankies Spuntino: Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual

Mark Rotella -- October 26th, 2010

The Frankies Spuntino: Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual (Artisan)
Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan

You’ve got two bearded Italian guys in their 40s—both from Brooklyn, both named Frank—who knew each other from the old neighborhood and, later, crossed paths in the restaurant industry as French-trained chefs. They get together and, tapping into their culture heritage, form a restaurant, Frankies 457 Spuntino, that is equal parts nostalgic and hip. Not an easy feat.

Their book, which has an earthy 1970s feel, is complete with gilded pages and hand-drawn illustrations.

As for the recipes, you can’t get any more traditional and simple: meatballs (baked, not fried), and braciola, made with 8oz pork shoulder steaks (rolled with garlic provolone and parmesan). For starters, there’s a great recipe for scarol’ e fagiol’—escarole and bean soup.

Towards the end of the book is a detailed recipe that this Italian American, 40-something man would have loved years earlier—a timeline for preparing your grandmother’s Sunday gravy, or sauce (which includes the above-mentioned meatballs and braciola). It begins on Saturday with a visit to the grocery store, butcher shop and bakery. Sunday starts with 6 a.m. Mass, which ends in time to return home by 7 to begin the tomato sauce. (“We are not our grandmothers,” the authors note. “Wish we had their stamina.” And they adjust their schedules, sans church, to begin cooking at noon—with dinner on the table by 6pm.)

They further impart the unspoken wisdom from their grandmothers, gleaned only from years of observation:

Dig in. Eat and enjoy. Deny that it was any work when everybody asks if you’re tired.

Do it every Sunday.

Do it forever.

PW Poetry Reviews Update: October 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 26th, 2010

We’ve got eight new poetry reviews in this week’s PW.  Here are the links, so they’re easy as pie to find:

First Fire, Then Birds: Obsessionals 1985-2010 by H.L. Hix (Etruscan)

Anterooms: New Poems and Translations by Richard Wilbur (HMH)

The Book of Things by Ales Steger, trans. from the Slovenian by Brian Henry (BOA)

Canti by Giacomo Leopardi, trans. from the Italian by Jonathan Galassi, (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Stories That Listen by Priscilla Becker (Four Way)

New Selected Poems and Translations by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth (New Directions)

The Poets Laureate Anthology edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt (Norton)

Pretty, Rooster by Clay Matthews (Cooper Dillon)

And in case you didn’t see it the other week, we also had a story about the challenges of poetry e-books in PW the week before last. And don’t forget to follow PW Poetry Reviews on Tumblr for more frequent updates.

What’s So Great About E-book Lending?

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 26th, 2010

On Friday, Amazon made two big announcements about the Kindle. The first is the coming availability of Kindle newspapers and magazines on Kindle apps and not just on the Kindle device itself.  This is long overdue–many readers no longer use their Kindles much, but still read most of their e-books through Kindle apps on their iPads or other devices.  It’s about time.

The other announcement–that Amazon will be bringing 14-day e-book lending to the Kindle–is perhaps a bit more controversial. A similar feature was, you’ll recall, one of Barnes & Noble’s big selling points for the Nook.  So, starting later this year, Kindle users will be able to “lend” e-books to other Kindle users for two weeks, during which time the original owner won’t be able to read the e-book.

But what does it mean to “lend” an e-book, which is a file, not an object? Does e-book lending replicate the gesture of trust and friendship implicit in lending a print book? What do you think? Does e-book lending add value to your Kindle?  Do/ will you borrow or lend e-books?

The PW Morning Report: Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 26th, 2010

This image, briefly posted on B&, appears to be of a new touchcreen, full-color Nook

Today’s links, even linkier than yesterday’s.

Color Touchscreen Nook Coming Today?: Rumors are running rampant that Barnes & Noble will unveil a color Nook at its press event today.

Amazon’s Little Win: A federal judge agreed with Amazon that it’s unconstitutional for North Carolina to collect customer data in a tax dispute with the online retail giant. From Bloomberg.

Salem Loses An Indie Bookstore: Salem’s Cornerstone books is closing on Nov. 1.  From the Gloucester Times.

And A Happy Bookstore Story: Poets & Writers profiles NY’s McNally Jackson books.

Apples vs. Oranges: PC Magazine says it’s time to stop comparing the Kindle and the iPad, which are made to do different things.

Dead Celebs Making Bank: IndyPosted runs down the top-earning dead celebs, including Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolkien and Stieg Larsson.

Youthful Fiction By Wes Anderson:Turns out the acclaimed writer/ director of “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” wrote fiction as an undergrad, and his undergrad lit journal has just published  a sample on its blog.

PW Best Books 2010: The Pregnant Widow

Jonathan Segura -- October 25th, 2010

The Pregnant Widow by Martin AmisThe Pregnant Widow
by Martin Amis (Knopf)

If you ever wake up and discover that your name is Keith and that you’re a character in a Martin Amis novel, lock the door and call for help: nothing good is in store for you. Various Keiths have appeared in Amis’s fiction–some fleetingly (Success), some prominently (London Fields), but each is a unique grotesque. Here, Amis sends an Amis-like Keith Nearing to a castle in the Italian countryside in the summer of 1968. He trudges through the English canon, calculating the average number of screws per book; plots the seduction of his girlfriend’s best friend; and becomes the unwitting target of another acquaintance’s sexual scheming. When the summer’s over, Keith is a marvelous ruin.

A lot of the themes given a workout here–sex, obsession, longing, frustration, classism–can be found in his early novels, but where, say, The Rachel Papers and Success and Dead Babies were electric with the cruel possibilities of youth, age and experience have ravaged poor Keith Nearing in the decades since his fateful Italian summer:

As the fiftieth birthday approaches, you get the sense that your life is thinning out, and will continue to thin out, until it thins out into nothing. And you sometimes say to yourself: That went a bit quick. That went a bit quick. In certain moods, you may want to put it rather more forcefully. As in: OY!! THAT went a BIT FUCKING QUICK!!!… Then fifty comes and goes, and fifty-one, and fifty-two. And life thickens out again. Because there is now an enormous and unsuspected presence within your being, like an undiscovered continent. This is the past.

Nobody would argue that Amis can’t write amazing sentences. (Maybe someone would; ignore this person.) He can, and does so on every page. And while I wish the extended coda would have been either lopped off or stretched way out, this is the best thing he’s done since The Information: very funny, quite sad, and relentlessly wicked. It’s the literary equivalent of getting tasered.

PW Best Books 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 25th, 2010

On November 8th, PW will publish its annual Best Books issue, in which we’ll round up our picks for the best books of 2010 in all genres.  We’ll also release our list of the top ten books of the year.  Between now and then, we’ll be posting write-ups from our reviews editors, who have each picked one of their favorites from among the other 90 books on the list. So stay tuned…

Johnny Depp Stars In Keith Richards’ Autobiography

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 25th, 2010

Superstar actor Johnny Depp, along with Joe Hurley and rock God Keith Richards himself, will read the 23 hour audiobook version of Richards’ comprehensively-titled memoir, Life, according to a press notice from Hachette Audio.  What else is there to say?  Life by Keith Richards as read by Johnny Depp.  Ain’t books cool?

Is There a Viable Digital Market for Fiction?

Andrew Richard Albanese -- October 25th, 2010

There’s a great piece in yesterday’s New York Times about apps and books that features comments from Brooklyn-based literary journal Electric Literature. But we’ve got the real deal. The lead feature in this week’s PW, Literature, Plugged In is an excellent, wide-ranging essay from Electric Literature founders Andy Hunter and Scott Lindenbaum. It is a thoughtful look at the current state of fiction writing and the opportunities presented by digital publishing, and mobile devices.

“Our experience suggests that the future of publishing is not about selling a person a book as much as it is forming a relationship,” Andy Hunter writes. “What doesn’t really matter, though, is how people choose to read. Literature is important; the choice of paper or plastic is not.” For those who are wary of what the digital future will bring, Hunter suggests that publishers today have a golden opportunity at hand: to help define the very markets that will sustain them.

“Right now, as a culture, we are just beginning to figure out what all these new mobile devices will be used for,” he notes. “Smartphones may already be ubiquitous, but consumer behavior—that is, what we do with those smartphones—is still being determined. If young people think of their iPhones as e-readers and not just as gaming or texting devices, literature will have a bright future.”

Hark, Some Funny Literary Comics

John A. Sellers -- October 25th, 2010

Illustrator Kate Beaton has been having serious fun with classic book covers over on her webcomic, Hark, a Vagrant. She has four groups of comics posted based on covers illustrated by Edward Gorey here, here, here, and here. (Oh, and in case it needs saying, they can be R-rated, for those with delicate sensibilities.) Hence, The Secret of the Underground Room (above) is indeed a horrifying secret, and in Beaton’s take on Troilus and Cressida, the lovers can’t get to first base.

More recently, Beaton posted two groups (here and here) of comics riffing on pulpy Nancy Drew covers. Here’s a personal favorite:

Anyone else doing funny comic twists on literature that we should know about? Share it with us in the comments.

All images copyright Kate Beaton.