Sunday Links for April 22, 2012

The Pulitzer Prize Awards have been announced. In a move that surprised many, the committee chose not to make an award for fiction this year. Ann Patchett discusses this seeming disrespect for the year’s authors, who produced a bumper crop of novels.

I’ve linked to specific reviews at the Los Angeles Review of Books a few times in past Sunday Links columns, but now it’s official and the website has gone live. Lots of great reading here. I wish it weren’t a Web-only publication, though; my only resource for reading it is my desktop or laptop computer, as I don’t have a tablet or a smart phone, and neither is a comfortable method for reading, or conducive to long, thoughtful study of an article. Perhaps I’ll just download all the reviews, articles and essays from the dedicated science fiction page and send them to my Kindle to read there.

You may have heard of the internet sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy– a pornographic novel (or an erotic novel, if you prefer) available originally only in electronic format, and apparently widely read on smartphones and tablets everywhere, away from the prying eyes of others. Doctor Science of the blog Obsidian Wings say this signals the end of publishing, more or less. Here is part IIA of his/her essay, and here is a meditation on the author’s statement that "the profession of editing had become distinctly unprofessional." This is interesting stuff if you love books and admire publishing. It makes me very sad; I rather wish this change had waited until I’d lived out my lifetime, no matter what other wonders technology hath wrought since I first poked my head out into this Earth.

For those who still believe in literature, though, there’s always Terry Eagleton. This review of his new book, The Event of Literature, contains what Andrew Sullivan has called “the insult of the day” by the reviewer, Stuart Kelly: “When, as a critic, I call something literature, I mean that it expands the field of what literature can be. David Foster Wallace is literature. Jonathan Franzen just tried to write a literary novel.” Ouch.

And more for the seriously literary: a lovely essay on the value of obscure words. I apparently regularly use obscure words without even knowing it, the legacy of a lifetime of reading.

I’ve said it a few times in these parts, and it remains true: Laird Barron is one of my very favorite horror writers. Here’s a decent interview with him, just in time for the forthcoming release of his first novel, The Croning (which is, so far, awesome).

The University of California at San Diego has announced the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Cool!

Tomorrow night is World Book Night. Here’s how you give away half a million books to celebrate.

Need some advice on a troubled relationship? Feeling lovelorn and don’t know where to turn? H.P. Lovecraft answers your relationship questions – not without a lot of fainting and a few tentacles.

And this will leave you with a smile: what happens when you push the button?

Value of obscure words

Terry, I think that children's books used to be a wonderful way to learn words, until somebody decided that the words in all children's books had to be ones they already knew. What a loss! (Even though I was one of those folks who got lots of words from books, sometimes mispronouncing them--I hadn't heard them spoken--and sometimes missing the point of the word I thought I knew. I remember how embarrassed I was when I discovered desultory didn't mean what I thought it did!)


Includes today!

Kathy, I still occasionally mispronounce a word that I've only ever seen in writing. But it was really common when I was a kid -- so much so that it became a family meme. (I used to read even cereal boxes, which is where I first came across "Puerto Rico." I asked my mother what Port-O Rice-O was. They've never let me live it down.)

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