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Friday, Jun 8, 2012
Audio and e-books help fill the need to get in as much reading as possible in one's limited, mortal lifespan.

In a recent article at the Daily Beast, writer Mark Wortman made the argument that books are simply too long, and that size has become a deterring factor for him in choosing what to read in a world with countless worthy selections but a finite amount of time. While many of the books he cites are biographies and other works of non-fiction, which oftentimes (but not always) are by necessity hefty tomes, and his speculation that e-book price-per-page analysis and the ready access of massive amounts of corroborative data for author’s via Google and the Internet has led to this unnecessary increase in voluminous monographs, might strike some as unconvincing – large books are certainly not a modern phenomena – bibliophiles and armchair scholars might be sympathetic to the angst underlying Wortman’s piece: that there’s simply not enough time to read all the things one wants to.


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Monday, May 21, 2012
Amazon vs. Barnes and Noble vs. Apple. The E-Reader Wars are heating up.

This has been a rough month for Amazon.com and its dominant position in the e-book market following a series of recent setbacks involving the company’s e-reader, the Kindle, and its tablet, the Kindle Fire. The e-reader, which more than any other device sparked the long anticipated digital revolution in the world of publishing, is no longer going to be stocked in any of Target’s stores across the nation. Although a New York Times’ article, “Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles” (Stephanie Clifford and Julie Bosman, 2 May 2012) speculated that the move is going to be little more than a minor irritation for Amazon, it means that the device is going to be pulled from the shelves of almost 2,000 brick and mortar locations.


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Monday, May 14, 2012
For a decade and a half, Steve Hughes has published Stupor, a zine that chronicles life in the age of diminished expectations. The newest issue was done in collaboration with international art star (and Björk main squeeze) Matthew Barney.

Quite often when I read mainstream American social science, especially of the “quantoid” variety, I’m reminded of much I appreciate literature. While acknowledging the importance of objective data collection and analysis in distinguishing social facts from all-too-fallible everyday perceptions, I also can’t help thinking that deeper, perhaps more significant meaning goes missing in the process.


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Friday, May 11, 2012
The 20th century did its best to dismantle innocence and inflict ideologically based suffering on children so as to darken human psychology for generations to come. Sendak dealt in honesty to make sense of bleak legacies.

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012).


A master dies, and everyone musters to analyse his contribution to children’s literature. Probably, it can be summed up by the way in which he tapped into childhood memories, dreams, dramas – awake and asleep; this ability makes Sendak’s work so influential. I don’t recall his most famous book, Where The Wild Things Are (1963) nearly so much as I remember the imprint of the much criticized In The Night Kitchen (1970) on my childhood recollections of reading.


Max, the hero of Wild Things, was just a naughty boy. I did not relate to him in the way that I found the intimidating and surreal landscape of Mickey’s adventures in the Night Kitchen more impactful. So, what that says about me I’m not sure! (Paging Dr. Freud!)


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Thursday, May 10, 2012
This kid in my class was only 11, but there was a sort of world-weariness about him. Life was tough. Where the Wild Things Are reminded him of his former innocence, even as it spoke to his inner fierceness.

Though I remember happily leafing through Chicken Soup with Rice as a kid, and I certainly owned my fair share of Where the Wild Things Are editions, my favorite Maurice Sendak memory is ultimately of someone else’s reading experience.


From an author’s perspective, I must have been a pretty easy conquest of a child—a natural bookworm who’d throw herself at anything with pages, an eager student. I was easy to engage. But the amazing thing about Sendak is that he got to the reluctant students, too—the ones who were angry about rules and their moms and the sorry state of the real world. At least, he spoke to one of my students like that.


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