Cory Doctorow’s paper on e-books is worth reading in full, but here’s a tiny sample of what he has to say about the difference between e-books and paper-books: “Ebooks don’t beat paper-books for sophisticated typography, they can’t match them for quality of paper or the smell of the glue. But just try sending a paper book to a friend in Brazil, for free, in less than a second. Or loading a thousand paper books into a little stick of flash-memory dangling from your keychain. Or searching a paper book for every instance of a character’s name to find a beloved passage. Hell, try clipping a pithy passage out of a paper book and pasting it into your sig-file.”
* In memoriam: Reetika Vazirani: “[Rita Dove] spoke of her eyes that ‘shone out with a clear, invigorating joy’ and of her poems ‘whose musicality was threaded through with pain and yet, simultaneously, the ironic acknowledgment of pain’s passing’. She wondered whether Reetika’s artistic perfectionism meant that she ‘could not confess, even to her closest friends, the unfinished, unpolished despair that drove her to take leave of us’.”
“My poor Saraswati! She now has vandanas sung to her by people who burn books, not read them, who claim to be her bodyguards, but who can see her only in clay and brick, who have never visited her country of knowledge ? a country that does not always shine or make us feel good, but that belongs to every one of us.” Githa Hariharan dissects the India Shining campaign.
“The moral of the story, it seems to me as one who has both written and received reviews, is that it is better to leave well enough alone,” says Shashi Tharoor in his column for The Hindu. He can’t quite do that himself, but being a diplomat, he merely alludes to the “minor literary controversy in the pages of the New York Times, whose editors felt compelled to acknowledge to their readers that the author of what is politely called a ‘mixed’ review of my recent book Nehru: The Invention of India had himself received a mixed review from me some years earlier for one of his books”.
At least Tharoor would never be guilty of the self-review. A glitch on Amazon revealed that some of those readers from St Louis and Alabama were authors, plugging their own books or putting in a good word for friends. Julian Barnes sums it up for me: “I would not do it–probably out of prudence as much as morality.”
* The NYT interviewed Anne Tyler over email. This is about the most interesting part of the exchange:
Could we meet ? for lunch, tea, a conversation?“No, I’m sorry, but thank you for asking.”
Joyce’s descendant is a party-pooper.