Materiality, information, and absence: as Kirschenbaum rightly notes, literature is “different after word processing,” and...

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TRACK CHANGES

A LITERARY HISTORY OF WORD PROCESSING

A learned and lively study of the sometimes-uneasy fit between writing on a computer and writing generally.

John Updike, some of whose garbage—literally—just went up for auction, may have been the last major American author to leave a “vast paper trail, possibly the last of its kind,” in the words of biographer Adam Begley. His successors leave, instead, an evanescent electronic trail. The effect on literary study is just beginning to be felt; enter Kirschenbaum (English/Univ. of Maryland; Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, 2008, etc.). Though a full taxonomy of the stylistic changes wrought by the computer has yet to be published, Kirschenbaum does a good job of hinting at lines for future research. Moreover, his here-and-now study is useful in showing how word processing spread from the realm of science fiction into that of general literature, introduced by the likes of Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and especially Douglas Adams and slowly adopted by the mainstream. Even then, as Kirschenbaum shows, some writers who might have been expected to take to computers resisted. David Foster Wallace, to name one, preferred composing in longhand and then transcribing onto the computer; he also “deliberately eras[ed] rejected passages from his hard drive so as not to be tempted to restore them to the manuscript later on.” Computer sleuthing nonetheless helped bring the posthumous Pale King into being, as it did some of the late work of Frank Herbert. Kirschenbaum observes that word processing as a literary subject comprises “a statistically exceptional form of writing that has accounted for only a narrow segment of the historical printing and publishing industry.” This would seem obvious, given the newness of the gear, but the author deepens that account with cross-technological looks at typewriting (shades of William Burroughs) and other compositional media—including tape, “the medium that initially defined word processing.”

Materiality, information, and absence: as Kirschenbaum rightly notes, literature is “different after word processing,” and so is literary history. He makes a solid start in showing how.

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-674-41707-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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