A gathering of mostly accessible academic pieces on the changes wrought on literature and criticism by the internet.
“There is more to the online literary debate than ‘if you liked that, you’ll love this,’ ” writes University of Cambridge professor Kasia Boddy in her foreword. There surely is: the internet can be a place of bots awarding points to dubious books and haters tearing a book’s ratings down; it can be an echo chamber or a wind tunnel, useful or useless. Online critic Scott Esposito, who has been at it since nearly the beginning of blogs, charts the recent evolution of the Web as a means of literary communication, noting, for instance, that he scarcely reads New York Times book reviews anymore, since digests are so readily available online: “why bother, when a tweet will tell you everything you need to know about said review?” One suspects that as a stalwart of literary culture—and he’s a little self-congratulatory there—Esposito is not entirely serious, but he does make the significant point that he and others first learned of the likes of Knausgaard, Ferrante, and so forth via social media. Jonathon Sturgeon writes ruefully of being an “online hack,” pushing out copy for hits and “moving worstward,” while, more reassuringly, Will Self assures the writers in the audience that it’s OK to live in isolation: “you cannot write while you’re having a conversation.” Of the more noteworthy pieces, essayist Lauren Elkin considers the positive effects that reaching for a broader audience might have on academic criticism (“criticism wants to go outward”), while theoretician and publisher Michael Bhaskar proposes that publishing itself is a form of criticism (via gatekeeping, editing, promoting, and so forth). Interestingly, many of the contributors, though fully part of the system, worry about the “overproduction of content,” as writer Orit Gat puts it—though Gat herself suggests that still more platforms are wanted for digital production.
Of broad interest to readers working in that Venn diagram space where writing, publishing, and cyberspace come together.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)