It appears that NPR plans to expand book coverage on its website, largely because “books are among the top three topics attracting traffic to the NPR site.” I can only ponder what the other two topics might be, but I’m guessing that it’s neither gerontophilia nor Half-Life mods. Nevertheless, this does demonstrate that the current demise of books coverage may be greatly exaggerated. If newspapers and other publications wish to carry on as if books don’t matter, and if they wish to live in a future in which they choose not to associate themselves with books, whether it be the coverage or the brand, then people will go elsewhere. To places more reasonably associated with books. So the question that any publication should be asking right now is whether it wants to lose such a prized audience. (NPR, incidentally, is ranked 1,633 on Alexa. So this ain’t exactly a small potatoes question.)
The rather appropriately named Perry Falwell was accosted by a woman who insisted that he purchase a bundle of books from her deceased husband. He discovered a kinky alternative usage for these tomes. It remains unknown whether the woman in question has been informed of her husband’s sordid secret or if she may have been one of the subjects photographed for these clandestine purposes from beyond the grave. But I’m thinking that she did know what was going on and was only being friendly. We should all be asked every so often if we must really love to read. By the same standard, those at a sex party should probably be asked every so often if they must really love to fuck, so that they might be afforded new literary entry points. (via Bibliophile Bulletin)
Meanwhile in a London high court, freelance journalist Shiv Malik is being asked to hand over source material and pay legal costs for a book on terrorism. The source material in question was limited to a specific terror suspect only after he fought an overbroad judicial order at the cost of £100,000. What’s striking is that the judges criticized Malik, pointing out that the journalist had “achieved very little from these proceedings.” If by “very little,” the justice is referring to tiny sliver of UK journalistic freedom that now costs a comfortable annual salary to fight, then I suppose he’s right. But I doubt that Josh Wolf and Vanessa Leggett going to jail for similar purposes here in the States amounted to “very little” for them personally. “Very little” is also one of those handy modifiers one can just as readily apply to the probity of such unwavering authoritarianism.
Ruth Wajnryb kickstarts a linguistic meditation from a sentence taken from an email. Me? So long as the article’s typo stands, I’m now contemplating just what “a friend of mind” is. Does the cerebral attachment to “friend” suggest that one is not permitted to feel when communicating? That there should be some separation between conceptual riffing and giddy exuberance? Did Ms. Wajnyrb type “mind” instead of “mine” deliberately? Is this an Australian thing? And why didn’t she opt for “my friend” in that lede? If she truly meant to pin down a cerebral friend, should it not have been “a friend in mind?” Or is this a reference to Toni Morrison? Sixo loving the Thirty-Mile Woman? Could it be that my problem with this phrase has something to do with my feelings for Morrison? Or perhaps my hesitancy here comes from my objection to the societal expectation that we must separate thoughts and feelings, choosing one or the other. Particularly when we’re writing letters. But if T.S. Eliot objected to this dichotomy, then I feel sufficiently justified in lodging my own complaint (even if I don’t possess even a tenth of Eliot’s poetic knack and acumen) and I would encourage others to do the same. There are some days in which I am careful with my words, and other circumstances in which I am overtaken by a wonderful emotional torrent! To acede to one or the other (and it’s often wholly the mental) seems a rather humdrum and uninteresting life to me, but the choice seems to suit many people and ensures that a swimming pool can be constructed in the backyard or the last ten payments on the luxury car will go through. But for me, it’s resulted in a few awkward social encounters in which I feel compelled to suggest that there is an inverted, if not anarchically fused, way of living.