Sunday, October 12, 2008

Links & Reviews

- The Boston Globe has a profile of Jeff Mayersohn, the new owner of Harvard Bookstore.

- Emory University has acquired the papers of journalist and biography Marshall Frady, purchasing the archive for $10,000 (a price called "ridiculously low" by Emory's library director). The papers went to auction after being seized from Frady's widow by the IRS. The only other bidder was Frady's alma mater, Furman University.

- This week's issue of The Onion (a reprint of their issue from 6 October 1783), is very amusing. [h/t Steamboats]

- BibliOdyssey has images of alchemical laboratories.

- Back in March I noted an effort to get Moby-Dick declared the "official book" of Massachusetts, which I thought then was a little ridiculous. Well, of course the legislature doesn't have anything better to do, so they've continued to discuss the issue. On Thursday the state House passed a bill that would make the novel the state's official "epic novel," rather than "official book," after objections were raised by legislators from Salem and Concord. The representative from Concord, in fact, said of the Moby-Dick plan "I am appalled! What about Louisa May Alcott? What about Hawthorne? How am I going to face my constituents?" Alright guys, now get back to work.

- From the Poe Wars: Ed commented this week on Poe's death-day (7 October) and on a new bicentennial Poe exhibit at the Philadelphia Free Library.

- Laura has started her book history courses, and offers a web-tutorial on imposition.

- The Unshelved folks have some new "Library" gear.

- Various parties involved with the potential sale of rare books from the Cardiff library system have found "a way forward," the BBC reports. Representatives from the "Cardiff council, Cardiff University, the National Library of Wales and Glamorgan Record Office" had what is being described as a "positive meeting" this week and said in a joint statement that they had "agreed that they would work together to identify which items from the collection should be recommended to be retained in Wales." More discussions are planned.

- Sarah Vowell was on NPR this week to discuss The Wordy Shipmates.

- In the October/November Policy Review, Peter Berkowitz comments on the contemporary relevance of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. [h/t Cliopatria]

- Paul Collins notes his New Scientist article on octagonal houses.

- Everett Wilkie sent word to the Ex-Libris list of a rather remarkable replevin case in Pennsylvania, where the state has seized a volume of Eastern State Penitentiary prison records (covering the period 1839-1850) from book dealer Edward Marshall. Marshall had purchased the volume from Freeman's auction house in 1999, beating out bidders from the Penitentiary (which closed in 1970 but is now operated as a historic site). Staff there say that the earlier and later record books are in the collections of the state archives, and that Marshall's volume, having once belonged to the state, remains a state record. Marshall maintains that the book should not have been seized without a warrant and that there is no evidence that it was stolen. I'll keep an eye on this one, since it could make for a very interesting case.

- Ian offers up some good book curses, and he's also got some dispatches from the Seattle Book Fair.

- Melanie Battoe, the director of the Guernsey Memorial Library in Norwich, NY (who found herself in some serious hot water this summer after a state audit revealed more than $15,000 worth of improper purchases with library funds) has resigned. Battoe's resignation will take effect 30 November, until which time Battoe will remain on paid administrative leave.


- Simon Schama has another book out. The American Future: A History is reviewed by Raymond Seitz for The Telegraph. The book accompanies Schama's new BBC series about America, and Seitz sees the book more of a performance piece than series history: "One glides through this book because Schama undeniably writes with colour and verve, but he also leaves the impression that he wishes to be the Pavarotti of historians, when in fact he seems more like the Barry Manilow ('You don't love me half as much as I do'). There is some excellent history here, but it struggles to escape from the stylistic vanity."

- Evelyn Lord's The Hell-Fire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies is reviewed by Malcolm Gaskill for The Telegraph and in an uncredited short review for The Scotsman.

- For The Telegraph, Jonathan Keates reviews Tim Birkhead's The Wisdom of Birds, a history of British ornithology and birding.

- John Demos' The Enemy Within is reviewed by Germaine Greer in the NYTimes. She's not a fan.

- Marc Lambert reviews Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder for The Scotsman. Holmes also talks to Guy Dammann for The Guardian Online.

- The Economist contains an unsigned review of Timothy Ryback's Hitler's Private Library.

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