Saturday, December 22, 2007

Links & Reviews

A good bunch of links (and a couple reviews) for this weekend; I'll be traveling for much of the day (taking the train west across Massachusetts, one of my favorite rides) and will be at home in upstate New York for the next week. I'll check in as I'm able during that time.

For holiday reading, I'm hauling along Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, which I just started this week, and Jay Winik's The Great Upheaval. I also have a few recent issues of The American Historical Review and Common-place that I need to catch up on.

- From The Times, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle biographer Andrew Lycett offers "10 things you didn't know about Conan Doyle."

- The BBC reported this week that the eBay auction of a 4,000-year old Iraqi clay tablet carved with cuneiform writing was halted after archaeologists spotted the sale. The tablet was confiscated by police from a Zurich warehouse, and the would-be seller faces a hefty fine (around $300,000).

- Author Alice Walker's papers have been purchased by Emory University. Journals, notebooks, drafts, letters and other materials comprise the 122-box collection. The archive will be processed and available in about a year, Emory says, although some of the journals will remain sealed for the time being. Emory also has the papers of Salman Rushdie, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, among others.

- The NYTimes profiled William Dane, Keeper of Prints at the Newark Public Library.

- From BibliOdyssey, images from the Kalender of the Shepherdes, a medieval almanac first published in the 1490s. Pecay writes "Although Kalender of the Shepherdes is the archetype for the persisting modern interpretation of an almanac (Old Farmer's Almanac for instance), the original work, which proved to be widely influential in both literary and social terms, was fundamentally about achieving salvation. The astrological charts and sherherd's folk wisdom about harvests, diet and medicine were side dishes to the core devotional and religious instructional main course."

- Rare Book Review reports that the Austrian National Archive has purchased the "handwritten manuscripts, notes and work papers of avant-garde Austrian writer Peter Handke" for €500,000.

- Over at Book Patrol, Michael notes a new and different twist on library theft: Tammie Ware has been arrested in Akron, OH after police found more than 1,000 books, DVDs, CDs and toys (worth more than $15,000) in her house, all stolen from the Akron Public Library. "Ware is accused of signing up her children repeatedly, using fake names, and checking out library materials under those names until the fines got too exorbitant." A police detective said "To the point she had listed thirty-five children. She had fines that totaled over eight thousand dollars." Apparently this had been going on for years, until a librarian noticed Ware signing up her kids using different names ... again. Ware's facing felony charges. I'll keep an eye on this one.

- John has the third installment of images from Houghton's Gibbon exhibit, which I finally got to see this week (just in the nick of time). It was very nicely done - kudos, John!

- This week marked the 164th anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (one of my favorite books). Michael caught the right date, and also linked to this exhibit of Dickens' Christmas books and stories.

- Over at Campaign for the American Reader, Marshall notes Garrison Keillor's "most important books," as told to Newsweek. They also asked him to name "a classic you revisited with disappointment" ("Moby Dick: Why did it take Melville so looooooonnnng to get to the story? I couldn't make it more than halfway through") and a "book that parents should read to their kids" ("Moby Dick: Two minutes and they'll be asleep"). Heh.

- Typefoundry reports in on the Caslon Tomb, a monument to several generations of Caslons at St. Luke's in Old Street (London).

- Last weekend, Paul Collins wrote about a long-lost feature of 19th-century periodicals: "the mysteriously one sided 'Editor's Chair' or 'responses to readers' sections, which give answers to individual readers without ever telling you what the questions were." Those from the Boys Own Paper have apparently now been collected in book form as Your Case is Hopeless. I agree with Paul: "I simply must have this book..."

- Michael has a new essay out, "The Internet and the Traditional Bookseller: A Failing Relationship." I think he's right that this is still very uncertain territory and that big changes are probably in the offing for how booksellers (and book buyers, for that matter) use the Internet.

- A copy of the 1685/1680 second edition of John Eliot's "Indian Bible" is currently for sale on eBay. Something you don't see every day. Asking price: $175,000.


- In The Telegraph, John Adamson reviews John Burrow's A History of Histories.

- In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Desmond Ryan reviews Eve LaPlante's Salem Witch Judge.