Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Genius.

Well how do you like that.

A writer best known for her short stories has been named one of the MacArthur Foundation's 2009 class of geniuses.

You know the short story. It's the literary animal that refuses to go extinct despite publishers and agents.

Deborah Eisenberg is part of a group that includes an artist working to preserve ancient paper techniques, an economist analyzing the reasons for poverty in South Asia and Africa, a molecular biologist laying the groundwork for future cures for cancer, and a bridge engineer.

Eisenberg teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia and has said that she will taking her students out to dinner to celebrate the $500,000 MacArthur award.

Go ahead kids. Order apps.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What if cutting and pasting involved scissors and glue?

So...that book stalking thing that I mentioned?

Here's another one bit of lit that I've been "accidentally" running into lately: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet.

Ironically (1), I happened to bring a recent back issue of Poets & Writers with me on a trip this weekend and I was completely taken by an article about the work some people are doing to up the design-ante in some books.

Spivet is one of the books they discussed along with others that incorporate illustrations, photographs, fonts and color.

The ones that really intrigue me are those books where the design plays a critical role in the storytelling. Books like The Annotated Nose where a fictional novel is taking place on one side while the annotations of that novel, The Nose, occurs on the other.

Or even the footnoting that Manuel Puig used in his novel that a lot of folks don't know was a novel, The Kiss of the Spider Woman.

It just gives me hope that the death of paper folks will ultimately be proven wrong. It may even be that folks like David Eggers and the entire crew at McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (2) will be even more broadly recognized as the print visionaries that they are.

As in, publishers will stop counting on big names and Oprah to sell books and start seeing what all the technology that's supposed to kill them can do to get folks excited to read again.

There. I'm done.

Mind the soapbox on your way out.

1. Which I think that I'm using in a very Alanis Morrisette fashion here. As in, incorrectly.
2. No two issues of the magazine are ever the same...they're always art directed and packaged in a completely new fashion.