Saturday, October 20, 2007

Links & Reviews

- In the Boston Globe, "Observer" Sam Allis profiles Sid Berger and Michele Cloonan and their magnificent collection of paper. Having seen a (small) portion of their collection - Michele is the Dean of GSLIS at Simmons and Sid teaches a wonderful history of the book course there, as part of which he had my whole class over to see the paper - I can say that Allis doesn't exaggerate: the scope of their collection is simply staggering.

- BibliOdyssey provides a fifteenth-century German danse macabre selection, and an interesting collection of Athanasius Kircher images.

- The Poe Wars continue, and Ed Pettit's now taken the fight to the airwaves. He'll be on Radio Times tomorrow morning around 11 (the show will be archived here so the rest of us can listen in), and he says there'll be an NPR appearance coming up soon.

- Michael Lieberman discovers a particularly unfortunate (but rather amusing) book title: Cooking with Pooh. He also comments on the official release of a prototype for the World Digital Library, which is scheduled to launch sometime next year. Also from Michael, some illustrations from Shaker primal books, comprised of visionary drawings made during periods of meditation.

- Grabbing some of the Processus Contra Templarios action, Slate's "Explainer" column tackles the question "What's in the Vatican Secret Archives?"

- Travis reports that he'll be teaching a class this spring in the University of Illinois' GSLIS program: Rare Books, Crime & Punishment. Let's just say I'm a little jealous of the IU students at the moment.

- Joyce notes the arrival of a new biblio-blog, Exile Bibliophile. The focus will be bookseller ephemera. Link added to the sidebar.

- Bookride has the second part of their examination of the Decameron. First part here.

- JK Rowling, answering a question from a fan at an event in New York on Friday, revealed that she "always thought of Dumbledore as gay". Much discussion has ensued. The Telegraph has a piece today titled: "Now the search for subtext will truly begin." Personally, I agree with The Millions on this one: "To me, though, there's something terribly spare and arbitrary about these post-publication revelations. What are we as readers supposed to do with these out of context details? Can we ignore them? Should we?" I don't suppose we should, but I also don't think that we should subject the Harry Potter canon to the lit-crit microscope. They're stories, and good ones, and let's leave them at that.

- Paul Collins examines the "Belford University" diploma-mill, where an investigator received a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering for $509 ... after giving his age as 12 on the application and submitting an essay which read simply "I luv planes and rockets."

- In the Guardian, Charles Nicholl summarizes his upcoming book The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street, about a 1612 court case in which one William Shakespeare played a bit part.

Reviews:

Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid: The Story of Science and the Reading Brain (HarperCollins) is discussed at Reading Archives. Richard Cox writes "Wolf examines how reading changed brain functions from the ancient world onwards and speculates about how our present immersion into the digital world might be bringing additional changes. Her focus is more on the biological and cultural rather than the cultural and historical, and the result is a very different kind of contribution to the literature on reading texts and other documents."

Andrea Barrett's The Air We Breathe (W.W. Norton & Co.) got some airtime on NPR this week.

Jay Winik's The Great Upheaval (HarperCollins) is reviewed by Andrew Cayton in the Washington Post. "Winik knows how to tell a gripping story. But The Great Upheaval is a shaggy work of portentous prose whose parts do not add up to as much as the author claims. By focusing on besieged leaders ... he tends to slight the energy and promise of the age of the democratic revolution in favor of lamentations about the excesses of vulgar, fanatical and usually non-American hordes. The book also neglects the critical role of particular demographic and geographic features in the development of France, Russia and the United States."

Bill Gifford's Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer (Harcourt) finds its way into the Dartmouth Review, where Jared Zelski writes "Gifford’s writing is agreeable and never too long-winded, which resonates well with the free-spirited character of John Ledyard." But Zelski didn't like Gifford's "sidetrack narratives."

Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship gets more ink this weekend with an Adam Hochschild review in the New York Times. Hochschild says "Rediker has made magnificent use of archival data; his probing, compassionate eye turns up numerous finds that other people who’ve written on this subject, myself included, have missed." I'm reading this book now, and while it's incredibly depressing, it covers a subject that needs to be much more widely understood.

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