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Category: News (31-40 of 626)

You can now read Jonathan Safran Foer and Toni Morrison on Chipotle cups

How very high-low. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was in Chipotle one day and he was quite miffed that he had nothing to read while he munched on his burrito. “I really just wanted to die with frustration,” he told Vanity Fair.

The author was so riled that he emailed the Chipotle C.E.O. Steve Ells directly: “I bet a s—load of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text…Wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.”

Ells knew a good thing when he saw it, so he gave Foer the green light to select writers and edit their stories for Chipotle’s cups. Foer composed a short called “Two Minute Personality Test” and then asked Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader and others to contribute pieces. “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles,” he said. “I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.” READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Drink your books, a water safety manual doubles as a water filter

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Some people think of everything, like the folks over at humanitarian group WaterisLife. They wrote a book on water quality, but went the extra mile and made the pages actual water filters that can be torn out and used to treat contaminated water. My first question was: what languages are they printing this in because chances are the people who need this speak only a local dialect. Sure enough they covered that: “Each page of the book is divided by perforation into two squares. The top half has information printed in English, while the bottom half is printed in a locally spoken language. The first run was printed in English and Swahili to be distributed in Kenya, but the goal is to expand printing for languages spoken in all 33 countries where WaterisLife operates.” [Slate] READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Author of Faked Holocaust Memoir Ordered to Pay $22.5 million

In an almost mythological tale of hubris, Misha Defonseca, author of the best-selling Holocaust memoir Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, has been ordered to pay her publisher $22.5 million after it was discovered that she faked her entire life story. Before the truth about her past came to light, Defonseca sued her publisher for $32.4 million for “breach of contract for hiding profits from the author.” While researching the book during the trial, the publisher realized that none of the facts checked out and Defonseca ended up confessing that she made the whole thing up. The $22.5 million is Defonseca’s portion of the $32.4 million judgement she won years ago and now must return. By now, the wild tale of a 7-year-old girl who trekked through the snowy wilderness after her parents were taken by Nazis has already been translated into 18 languages and made into a movie. [NY Post]

American teens are reading for pleasure way less than they used to. According to a study conducted by Common Sense Media, almost half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year. This decline is happening despite the expanding number of platforms that are available to readers. The study does not link this to the internet directly, but researchers think the distractions from smart phones, infinitely streaming television and the k-hole of YouTube are a likely factor. [NPR]

Freakonomics fans can read an excerpt from Think Like a Freak, the authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s newest book about how to problem solve like…a freak. Sample advice: “It’s much better to ask small questions than big ones. Small questions…are virgin territory for true learning.” [Guardian]

Walter Isaacson, the best-selling author and president of the Aspen Institute, will deliver the Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. tonight at 7:30 pm ET. Mr. Isaacson has written biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs, and he will be discussing the lives of all three men during his lecture on “The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences.” You can live stream the sold out lecture at the National Endowment for the Humanities website.

On The Books: Publisher accuses Amazon of deliberately delaying shipments of books

The publishing house Hachette Book Group has accused Amazon of deliberately delaying shipments of their books as a negotiation tactic to pressure the publisher into giving Amazon more favorable terms. Amazon has reportedly been marking many books published by Hachette as not available for at least two or three weeks. Titles by Malcolm Gladwell and J.D. Salinger are being delayed. Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t is listed as three weeks away, while James Patterson’s Alex Cross, Run is listed as a five-week wait. The New York Times reports that over the years Amazon has employed a number of ruthless tactics against publishing houses, even removing the “buy” buttons from some books! [New York Times] READ FULL STORY

On The Books: More details for new Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot novel

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The newest addition to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels has been announced. Sophie Hannah has written The Monogram Murders, which will be released on September 9th. Hannah says that she had the idea for the plot for years, but it wasn’t until she was offered the chance to author a Hercule Poirot novel that she found the perfect setting. See the her talk about the book in the video below:

READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Putin bans profanity; erotica in literature; and a Ken Follett sequel

Vladmir Putin and Prince are on the same page about profanity right now, specifically that they’ve had enough of it. Putin passed a law that “requires books containing obscenities to come in sealed packages with warning labels and that bans cursing in movies and the performing arts,” according to NPR. There’s no official list of banned words, but it will be up to the Ministry of Culture to decide what is too profane. Prince, on the other hand, just told Essence magazine that he’s not swearing in his music anymore because we should treat “all people like royalty,” and you don’t swear in front of royalty. READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Salman Rushdie and Pussy Riot speak at the PEN American Literary Gala

The PEN American Center hosted its annual literary gala last night, and the list of speakers celebrating freedom of expression included Salman Rushdie, two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, and Toni Morrison. Jewher Ulham accepted the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award on behalf of her father, Ilham Tohti, a scholar arrested in January and charged with inciting separation among China’s ethnic Uighurs. Words are “all he has ever had at his disposal and all that he has ever needed. And this is what China finds so threatening,” she said in her acceptance speech. Other awards went to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who was given the inaugural Digital Freedom Award and to Salman Rushdie who won the PEN’s Literary Service Award. [Yahoo] READ FULL STORY

On The Books: F. Scott Fitzgerald's racy and racist uncensored short stories

An uncut edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fourth short story collection, “Taps at Reveille,” was published this week in the U.K. by the Cambridge University Press. A Penn State English professor discovered that the original editors had deleted or replaced many words in Fitzgerald’s stories to make the book more acceptable to the public. “They excised or inserted substitutions for profanity and certain slang words, cut out references to sex and drugs and drunkenness, masked specific locations and names, and either deleted or softened several anti-Semitic slurs uttered by some of the author’s less pleasant characters,” writes the New York Times. Some changes completely altered the characters and plot of the stories, and other changes merely took the spice out of his tone. We can expect the uncensored collection to be published in the U.S. in June.

The Mystery Writers of America announced the Edgar Awards winners last night. You can check their website for a complete list of winners, but the category of Best Novel went to William Kent Krueger for Ordinary Grace. Krueger’s website gives this synopsis:

Minnesota, 1961. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, “Ordinary Grace” is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Since March, people have been protesting the British prison system’s new rules that effectively prevent prisoners from accepting books in the mail. The protests have garnered the support of high-profile authors like Salman Rushdie, but apparently things are still pretty hairy because Philip Pullman, current president of the Society of Authors, has sent a snarly letter to justice minister Chris Grayling denouncing the law. No one wants to draw the wrath of Pullman’s sharp tongue (just ask the Catholic Church.) [Guardian]

Have you ever gone to a book reading by your favorite author and agonized over what question to ask. You want to ask something smart, but deferential; something that reveals you are a true fan, but not truly creepy. Well, keep agonizing. According to this article, writers really do notice the questions you ask and judge the heck out of you for it. [NY Books]

To close, let’s appreciate this photo of Pablo Picasso dressed as Popeye. Happy Friday, folks!

On The Books: Newly discovered science fiction stories by Octavia Butler

Octavia-Butler

Two newly discovered stories by science fiction author Octavia Butler are being published together as an ebook called Unexpected Stories. Butler is a recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards and one of the pioneering female writers in the science fiction field. She won the the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. One of the new stories, “Childminder” was commissioned by Harlan Ellison for his legendary (and never-published) anthology The Last Dangerous Visions. A disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price. [Open Road]

Stefanie Zweig, the author of Nowhere in Africa, a best-selling autobiography of her Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany to live in Kenya, died on Friday at 81. Zweig adapted the book into a screenplay, which was made into a German movie directed by Caroline Link. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003. [New York Times]

Harper’s put together an interactive storytelling feature by Jill Sobule called “Dottie’s Charms.” When Sobule bought a charm bracelet on eBay, she was inspired to write a song for each charm. The Harper’s feature includes music written by Sobule and lyrics for each song written by a different author, some are paired with illustrations and video. [Harper’s]

Dave Eggers wrote an effusive forward to the 10th Anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Funny thing though, he didn’t mention his scathing review of the book in 1996. “Besides frequently losing itself in superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea, the book suffers under the sheer burden of its incredible length,” Egger wrote back in the day. Yikes. [Reluctant Habits]

Here’s a rant against National Poetry Month from J.T. Barbarese, an English professor at Rutgers. He’s railing against the idea that poetry can be commodified and that this whole “month” idea was a marketing ploy by well-meaning fools. “Umberto Eco, years ago, suggested that the only way to save civilization was to abolish compulsory education. I am not sure he was just kidding,” Barbarese writes. I’m sure you’re not kidding. [Newsworks]

I’ll leave you with this Guardian headline: Scanner for ebook cannot tell its ‘arms’ from its ‘anus.’

On The Books: 'To Kill A Mockingbird' eBooks for everyone

As Harper Lee celebrates her 88th birthday today, she unexpectedly announced an eBook version of To Kill A Mockingbird would be published this July. Until today, To Kill A Mockingbird and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were the two white rhinos that still eluded the eBook library’s collection of classics. [Guardian] READ FULL STORY

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