Tagbooks

How Haruki Murakami Conquered the Literary World

Murakami

Great to see a literary event with this level of excitement:

At midnight in London, and the same time next week in America, bookshops will open their doors to sell Haruki Murakami’s latest novel to eager fans. This is not Harry Potter, it’s a 1,600-page translation from Japanese. So why the excitement?

When Haruki Murakami’s new book, 1Q84, was released in Japanese two years ago, most of the print-run sold out in just one day – the country’s largest bookshop, Kinokuniya, sold more than one per minute. A million copies went in the first month.

In France, publishers printed 70,000 copies in August but had to reprint within a week. The book is already on the top 20 list of online booksellers Amazon.com – hence the plans for midnight openings in the UK and across the US from New York to Seattle.

“The last time we did this was for Harry Potter,” says Miriam Robinson of Foyles, just one of the bookshops in London opening at midnight for the launch. “It’s hard to find a book that merits that kind of an event.”

BBC: Haruki Murakami: How a Japanese writer conquered the world

(Thanks Dad!)

I’ll be at Powells at midnight on the 25th, if it’s open.

Brainsturbator’s Best Books of 2010

After the New Economy

Justin Boland lists his favorite reading of 2010. Here are some highlights I particularly want to read:

After the New Economy, by Doug Henwood.

The majority of my reading in the past year has been in Economics, shaped by a couple new jobs that required me to become a fake expert in the field. Perhaps in the near future I’ll do a separate Reading List focused on that, but for now, let me recommend one single volume as the best written, most thoroughly documented book on the subject: Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy. Henwood does something really remarkable here. There are dozens of sources per page, but he juggles an academic level of density with J.K. Rowling readability. He keeps all his math & policy discourse grounded in real world effects on actual working human beings. All in all, this book is fucking devastating because it uses nothing but the US economic system’s own numbers and words—there is no moralizing here. Along the way, Henwood also provides an education in deciphering market metrics and business news. He is a concise and scrupulous teacher. Henwood is often framed as a rabid Socialist, but I get the impression his political agenda is that of a disgruntled accountant…he’s just angry that the numbers don’t really add up on the American Dream.

Equally Worthy: his earlier book Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom is just as good and thorough. Most fans of Henwood suggest starting there, and it is powerful stuff. If you’re interested in a guide to Wall Street, though, the unfortunately named Eric J. Weiner has cornered the market with What Goes Up: The Uncensored History of Modern Wall Street as Told by the Bankers, Brokers, CEOs, and Scoundrels Who Made It Happen, an “oral history” where three generations of Hidden Rulers talk candidly about criminal conspiracies they got away with. It is awesome and very inspirational.

C Street, by Jeff Sharlet.

Sharlet has been doing important work for a long time now covering Christian Dominionist movements, especially in military and political circles. His previous book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, is essential reading if you’re not already familiar. (Start with “Jesus Plus Nothing.”)

Theocrats are scary people, and Sharlet tracks the most powerful among them carefully here. This is the grey zone where The Family morphs into The Fellowship, which has also been referred to as ”The Christian Mafia” and a ”Frat House for Jesus.” This is serious material,of course: the ghost network he outlines in C Street shaping foreign policy, domestic initiatives, and partisan talking points. The amount of media collusion and access to corporate money here is nothing short of spooky.

Brainsturbator: The 2010 Brainsturbator Reading List

Voynich Manuscript Carbon Dated to Early 1400s – About a Century Older Than Previously Though

voynich manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript has been carbon dated to somewhere between 1404 and 1438:

Using radiocarbon dating, a team led by Greg Hodgins in the UA’s department of physics has found the manuscript’s parchment pages date back to the early 15th century, making the book a century older than scholars had previously thought.

University of Arizona News: UA Experts Determine Age of Book ‘Nobody Can Read’

(Thanks Paul!)

This rules out Leonardo da Vinci as the author, which was my personal favorite theory. da Vinci was born in 1452. It also rules out John Dee and Edward Kelly, who lived in the 16th century. It also of course rules out the possibility that Voynich forged the manuscript.

The Top 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos

Book shelf

Inspired by the Modern Library’s top 100 list, the blogger behidn Geez Pete has created her own list of the top 50 books for weirdos. Here are a few highlights:

Columbine by Dave Cullen: There’s a lot you “know” about Columbine — the “Trench Coat Mafia,” the girl who professed her love for God and was executed — but in reality, it’s nearly all incorrect. This exhaustive look at the 1999 attack covers a lot of individual issues (gun violence, troubled adolescence, mental illness), but on a macro level, it’s about the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, the scramble for “if it bleeds it leads” information, and what the commercialization of news has done to public awareness.

Critical Path by Buckminster Fuller: He was born at the end of the 19th century, but Buckminster Fuller was a futurist inventor of the highest order, bringing to life everything from geodesic domes to the totally dope looking Dymaxion car. In this sweeping 1981 book, Bucky covers the evolution of human civilization, his own economic ideology, and argues his conclusions about the “critical path” we should take to survive in a world of finite resources.

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century by Greil Marcus: Marcus tackles what should be an impossible task — taking anarchic artistic and social movements throughout roughly a century of history, and tying them together into a narrative thread that leads straight through punk rock and pop culture — and pulls it off. And it’s entertaining to boot.

Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson: If that book cover isn’t enough to convince you to check this out, what is? Robert Anton Wilson (RAW to his fans and followers) was an icon of brain-altering philosophies, and his writing has lost zero of its power over time. The headline here is that Prometheus Rising is about meta-programming your own mind. The subheads are many. You’ll feel altered.

Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige: Considering it was published in 1979, this brief-but-dense book recognizes and defines modern subcultures and their appropriation with incredible accuracy. The subsequent never-ending process of mass market swiping of underground styles — from clothes to music to politics to, let’s face it, hair — has only gotten faster and more fierce since. Hebdige recognized a once-subtle process that today is like a snake devouring its own tail.

Geez Pete: The Top 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos

(via Boing Boing)

What would you add?

Update: A follow-up post with 50 fiction titles has been added.

Thee Psychick Bible now available

thee psychick bible

Thee infamous PSYCHIC BIBLE from Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth receives an updated, expanded, corrected edition,complete with dozens of new visuals and essays. The Feral House edition is handsomely presented in smyth-sewn hardcover with a red ribbon. Thee 544 pages within are printed in two colors on high-quality 60-pound stock on acid-free 100% recycled paper stock.

This signed, numbered limited edition (999 copies only) is also presented with a remarkable DVD of impossible-to-find videos from P-Orridge archives of early Psychic TV and TOPY creations which includes the work of Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and Derek Jarman. Several of the videos included were seized by Scotland Yard in 1991, and as a result the DVD is provided here are second-generation and are reproduced in this CD for their historical value.

The artist, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, says about this edition: “It has been a revelation and become very thrilling for me to see 30 years+ of social, ritual and communal creative explorations consensed into what we feel may become the most profound new manual on ‘practical magick’ taking from its Crowleyan level of liberation and empowermeant of the Individual to a next level of realization that magick must then give back to its environment, its community, become about liberation and empowermeant to change this ‘world’ and evolve our humanE species.”

Feral House: Thee Psychick Bible

Buy it on Amazon

(Thanks Paul)

If anyone is thinking of buying your humble editor a winter-holiday gift, you could do much worse…

The Voynich Manuscript Decoded?

voynich manuscript

Could it really be this simple?

I give examples to show that the code used in the Voynich Manuscript is probably a series of Italian word anagrams written in a fancy embellished script. This code, that has been confusing scholars for nearly a century, is therefore not as complicated as it first appears. […]

I used an Internet site, ‘Italian Anagram Dictionary,’ to help me unscramble the words and translate the anagrams into English. The book ‘The Botanical Gardens of Padua 1545-1995’(iv) helped identify some of the common names used for plants in Italy in the 16th century. You can judge from the examples given below, whether this Anagram Code has been successful deciphering this limited selection from the Voynich Manuscript. I hope some of you who read medieval Italian will help decipher more of the manuscript so we can finally learn the mysteries, if any, that this manuscript is hiding.

The Voynich Manuscript Decoded?

(via Joe Matheny)

Wanted to buy – Meda: a Tale of the Future and L’Utopie et le roman utopique dan la litterature anglaise

For my research on the history of the mutant, I’m looking for the following books:

Meda: a Tale of the Future as Related by Kenneth Folingsby

and

L’Utopie et le roman utopique dan la litterature anglaise by Victor DuPont.

If anyone has any leads, I’d be much obliged.

Print your own books from Wikipedia

wikipedia books

Wikipedia is offering a new service allowing users to select articles from Wikipedia and have them printed as a book:

Step 1 – Creating the book from a collection of articles

The book collection menu, entitled “Create a book”, can be seen on the left hand side of the browser screen towards the bottom. It contains two links by default: “Add wiki page” and “Books help”. (See Fig 1).

By clicking on the “Add wiki page” link, the page currently being viewed is added to the collection. To add more pages you must navigate to the next desired page and click the “Add wiki page” link again. You can also add all pages in a category with one click. The number of pages in the book is shown in the menu on the left and is updated automatically.

If required, specific revisions (versions) of pages from their histories, can be specified in your book. See the experts page for details.

Step 2 – The book title

Once all the desired pages have been added, click the “Show book” button to review your book. Furthermore it is possible to add a book title and change the ordering of the wiki pages of the book (see details of how to do this in the Advanced functionality section).

Step 3 – Download or order a printed copy of your book

The finished book can be downloaded or ordered as a bound book. You can download the book, in PDF and OpenDocument format (viewable using OpenOffice.org software), by clicking the “Download” button (see Fig 3). To order the book as a bound book click the “Order book from PediaPress” button. Further information about printed books can be found in the FAQ.

More Info: Wikipedia

Wikipedia Books FAQ

(via Robot Wisdom)

This is one of the business models I suggested for newspapers.

Interview with Author Sue Lange

“At one time or another Sue Lange has been one of the following (pretty much in this order): child, student, potato picker, first chair flautist, librarian, last chair flautist, babysitter, newspaper deliverer, apple picker, form cutter, drama club treasurer, track and field timer, Ponderosa Steak House salad server (before the salad bar days, of course), disco dance instructor, waitress, wire harness assembler, usher, Baskin-Robbins ice cream dipper, volleyball team captain, biology club treasurer, circuit board checker, form reader, day camp counselor, tutor, stock room attendant, nurse aide, chemistry technician, senior chemistry technician, right fielder, Plant Laboratory Supervisor–non-radiological, house sitter, first base, receptionist, stage manager, data input technician, actor, bookkeeper, vocalist, typesetter, songwriter, recording artist, home builder, viticulturist, Digital Production Manager, orchardist, and Applescripter. Lately she’s been writing.”

TiamatsVision– For those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself.

Sue Lange– Well I started out as a child, and then I grew up. After that terrifying experience I moved to New York City and discovered who I really was. Turns out I was musician so I started a band. Crabby Lady was the last incarnation. I stripped the music from my lyrics and published my story as science fiction (“Tritcheon Hash”). That went over like a lead balloon so I tried again (“We, Robots”). Blowing my modicum of success with the second book all of out of proportion gave me the nerve to try it once more, hence my third book, “The Textile Planet”.

TiamatsVision– How did the idea for Book View Café come about and what was involved in putting the site together?

Sue Lange– A number of people on the SF-FFW Yahoo group (women writers of speculative fiction) started yakking about offering fiction for free online to create some buzz for our work. We read stuff like Cory Doctorow’s manifesto on the subject and got inspired. Never one for talk without action, Sarah Zettel grew tired of our ranting and said, “Let’s do it.” A bunch of us got eager and jumped on the band wagon, and voila, BVC is born.

TiamatsVision– What do you see happening with Book View Café in the future?

Sue Lange– I think we’re going to become a publisher. We’re going to have a model in place for publishing Internet fiction and making money at it. We’ll know how to make it, serve it, promote it, and sell it. We’ll have a handful of formidable partners that will be able to distribute our product in the myriad formats out there. We’ll have content in Internet formats, ebooks, print books, and podcasts. Wherever there is content, we will be there.

TiamatsVision– Tell us about your current project titled “The Textile Planet”, which is available on Book View Cafe.

Sue Lange“The Textile Planet” is a rather long-winded tale of speculative fiction. Because it was so overwritten, I decided it would be perfect for adding even more content to in the form of links to back story and little playlets and stuff like that. It could go on forever with bits added here and there as I see, and perhaps the audience sees, fit. Underneath it all though, there is a story. It follows corporate stooge, Marla Gershe, as she foments revolution in her day job. The consequences of her foolish action follow her eventually to the ends of the universe.

TiamatsVision– What inspired you to write it?

Sue Lange– Three day gigs: my job at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, my job at IEEE Communications Society, and a weird little part-time thing I did on the NYC textile exchange. The first two jobs were and are hectic at times and very inspiring when considering revolution. I’m sure there are many people out there who have also at some point in their life fantasized about tipping the in basket over the side of the desk and pulling the emergency switch. They can relate to those moments that inspired this story.
The third job was just plain bizarre and inspirational for anyone writing spec fic. It pretty much provided the setting and circumstances of the story.

TiamatsVision– The main story centers on the textile industry and fashion. Is this something you’ve always been interested in?

Sue Lange– No, but that textile exchange job gave me a slit of a window into how it works from soup to nuts. The textile exchange itself consists of little offices in the Chelsea section of NYC. The Seventh Ave./30th Street area. Around Penn Station actually. There’s no fancy building or big sculpture to let you know something big is going on. The only evidence of its existence is that you’ll see racks of raw mink rolling around the dirty streets at odd hours. Surrealistic. You look at one of these racks and wonder what the value is. Thousands of dollars? Hundreds only maybe, until they’re stitched into a coat? That and the fact that 7th Avenue was renamed Fashion Ave. are the only indicators of the industry. There are a lot of wholesalers in the area selling fabric and notions by the ton to the trade only. So there’s that.

My gigmaster sold shop towels from Russia where they were cheap to make. All day long he moved Russian shop towels from one buyer to the next. He was quite successful at it. He had a bunch of other businesses here and there as well. I had been working for him for about three days when he asked me if I wanted to be a plant manager for a textile concern of his down in Georgia. I ask you, would you take a position that someone is so desperate to fill they’re asking strangers? I’ve spent long hours imagining the horror that place down there must be and “The Textile Planet” resulted from that. I did some research for it, but fabrication based on my imaginations is so much more fun. In the end there’s not much basis in reality in the book. Especially when we get to the ends of the Universe, but I guess that’s obvious.

TiamatsVision– What made you decide to make this a multimedia project?

Sue Lange– I wanted to cut out some stuff that was making the action drag. Instead of just cutting it out, though, I used it for clickable content. The radio play is just more of the same dialogue illustrating that Marla is having a bad day. It just never ends, so I had some friends in for dinner and we recorded the various conversations that had been cut out, added some sound effects and background patter and there you are. Multimedia content.

TiamatsVision– Do you plan to do more multimedia projects in the future?

Sue Lange– Depends on how this one works out. If people are interested in it. I love doing it, but I don’t know if it enhances a person’s enjoyment of the material. The story really stands on it’s own, but I like adding sound effects. Instead of describing what someone is hearing, maybe it’s better to give them an example. But does anyone really care what a home-made version of a Santana song without percussion would sound like? I mean, just thinking about it is pretty funny, considering Santana’s lineup was about 75% drums et al. But if someone is not familiar with Santana’s music, they might not get just how bad it would be. If you’ve listened to the recording you know how bad it is. And having been part of lots of DIY music projects, I know how funny it can get. It’s worth a cheap joke.

TiamatsVision– What are some of your interests other than writing?

Sue Lange– Music, obviously. I love movies. I’m writing a piece on Lina Wertmuller’s “Love and Anarchy” for the Aqueduct Press, 2008 wrapup. I just learned to ride horses a couple of years ago. I do organic farming, have a peach orchard and do vegetables and my signature garlic every year. And I love to perform. Sing, dance, pass gas. It’s all good.

TiamatsVision- What else have you written and are there other projects you’re currently working on?

Sue Lange– My first published book was “Tritcheon Hash”, about a hapless space age pilot that has to visit Earth and see if a partnership with the inhabitants there will be a win-win situation. “We, Robots” is about a hapless domestic robot that learns what it means to be human. “The Textile Planet” is about a hapless worker in the textile industry. And my next project is called “The Perpetual Motion Club” which is about a hapless teenager that gets hung up on a basketball star and perpetual motion phenomena.

TiamatsVision– If people want to read more of your work or purchase your books where do they go?

Sue LangeAmazon of course. “We, Robots” is cheaper at the publisher’s website (http://www.aqueductpress.com/orders.html). My blog on the subject (usually) of The Singularity Theory is at http://scusteister.livejournal.com. My website is kinda fun: http://www.suelangetheauthor.com and I have a couple of stories up at bookviewcafe.com for free. Some of my other stories have been published on the Internet. Can’t remember exactly where right now. A lot of the sites have vanished. The current issue of Premonitions, a UK magazine, has my story Jump”. A dark story, not like me at all.

Literary Novels and Fan Culture: Some Thoughts Following The Future of Entertainment 3

“Over the weekend I attended The Future of Entertainment 3, a conference organized by MIT’s Comparative Media Studies department. The two day event featured back to back roundtables focusing on issues related to social media, audience participation, and “spreadable media,” a term CMS director Henry Jenkins coined as a more appropriate way to describe content than “viral.” (Viral connotes an inexplicable element the “infected” have no control over. It suggests you can “design the perfect virus and give it to the right first carriers.”)

From a post on Jenkins’ blog last year:

Our core argument is that we are moving from an era when stickiness was the highest virtue because the goal of pull media was to attract consumers to your site and hold them there as long as possible, not unlike, say, a roach hotel. Instead, we argue that in the era of convergence culture, what media producers need to develop spreadable media. Spreadable content is designed to be circulated by grassroots intermediaries who pass it along to their friends or circulate it through larger communities (whether a fandom or a brand tribe). It is through this process of spreading that the content gains greater resonance in the culture, taking on new meanings, finding new audiences, attracting new markets, and generating new values. In a world of spreadable media, we are going to see more and more media producers openly embrace fan practices, encouraging us to take media in our own hands, and do our part to insure the long term viability of media we like.

Indeed, our new mantra is that if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”

(via The Tomorrow Museum)

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