Book Bits: Shakespeare in DNA, ‘Fuse,’ Pippa Middleton, ‘The Famine Plot,’ Nook woes
I’m fascinated by the concept of storing data in DNA, a process that—if it works—could make our best mega-storage devices seem like ancient floppy disks in terms of data capacity (item 14). Let’s hope the DNA, in such harmless-looking sequences as this sonnet opening TAGAT GTGTA CAGAC TACGC GCAGC GAGAT CGACT CGCAG TGCTG AGTGA CAGAC TAGTC ACGTC don’t morph into the organic world as, say, a frankenauthor or a fleshing-eating series of mass market paperbacks.
Meanwhile, we celebrate the anniversary today of the 1943 publication of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, one of the books listed in the article (item 4) about books that rewrite history.
Here are today’s links:
- News: Pippa Middleton to write cookery column for UK supermarket – “Pippa Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, is to give cooking tips to the masses in a new column for British supermarket chain Waitrose. Middleton, 29, will write a column for the upmarket chain’s monthly magazine, Waitrose Kitchen, called ‘Pippa’s Friday Night Feasts.'” Reuters
- News: Barnes & Noble’s Nook, ebook sales fall 25.9 percent in quarter – “Barnes & Noble Inc reported a quarterly net loss on Thursday, hurt by a sharp decline in sales in its Nook device and e-books business, as well as lower sales at its bookstores and college bookstore chain.” Reuters
- Review: “The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy,” by Tim Pat Coogan, reviewed by Eamon Loingsigh – “Coogan’s intent here is not to say that England caused the blight of the potato. That was a matter of nature, of course. Instead he points directly to allowing its people for which it was responsible within the terms of the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain, to be so vulnerable as to be completely dependent on one crop. Furthermore, the deliberate attempt to utilize a natural disaster to ‘inflict conditions that bring about its physical destruction’ is another powerful and ringing interpretation of the United Nations charter.” Bookslut
- Feature: 10 Books That Rewrite History, by Peter Dimock – “Peter Dimock’s ‘George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time’ defies simple description. It is a novel where history meets method, and where narrative approaches madness. It’s also a treasure trove of poetic prose that rewards careful attention. We asked Dimock, whose own novel challenges what we think we know as ‘history,’ to pick 10 books that do the same. These are the books to read when you want to jolt yourself out of your shell.” Beloved, shown here, is among the books on the list. Publishers Weekly
- How To: The Oxford Comma, in Pictures, by Mignon Forgarty – “The Oxford comma—also called the serial comma and the Harvard comma—is a regular source of confusion and angst. Whether you use the comma is a matter of style, meaning that some style guides call for it and some don’t.” Grammar Girl
- Review: “The Age of Edison,” by Ernest Freeberg, reviewed by David A Price – “Mr. Freeberg’s wide-ranging social history tells the story of the transition to the era of electric light and its complex reception by American society.” The Wall Street Journal
- Essay: On the In Between – “I forget every time the feeling that hits me when I have finished one book but have not yet begun another. This between-books limbo is, for me, like a long, slow leaching of color from the world. A steady decline of mood and connection to the universe until one day I wake up and hardly know who I am.” Dani Shapiro
- News: ‘Bookshop of the future’ one step closer to realization, by Felicity Capon and Fiona Baird – “Individuals from across the industry meet at Foyles to discuss what bookshops of the future will look like. . .future bookshops will be very much a social experience.” The Telegraph
- Interview: Bernie Glassman (“The Dude and the Zenmaster” co-written with Jeff Bridges) with Brad Listi – “Bernie Glassman is the guest. He is a pioneer in the American Zen Movement, an accomplished academic and businessman, and the founder of the Zen Peacemakers…Monologue topics: Zen, meditation, discipline and lack thereof, losing my shit, my daughter, guilt, the Oscars. ” Other People
- Viewpoint: Did Amazon Just Kill a Golden Goose? by George Burke – “Why would Amazon want to penalize the big traffic makers that generate brand loyalty and purchase revenue?” Publishing Perspectives
- How To: How to Feel Confident Charging More for Your Freelance Work, by Kristen Hicks – “Like many people, I’m timid when it comes to talking about money – even when that talk determines how much I’ll be making.” Make a Living Writing
- Review: “Fuse,” by Julianna Baggott, reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman – “In FUSE, Baggott hits her stride with a pace and cohesiveness that was lacking a bit in PURE. With much of the backstory firmly in place but still a few mysteries unsolved, the characters’ personalities come through and their actions begin to come to fruition. They are more nuanced and compelling here than they were in the first book, and their relationships to each other and to the past, as well as their possible roles in conclusion of the story, have come into focus.” Book Reporter
- Feature: Seven Tips From F. Scott Fitzgerald on How to Write Fiction – “We’ve selected seven quotations from F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing, which was edited by Larry W. Phillips and published in 1985 as a companion to the Hemingway book. As in the previous post, we’ve organized the advice under our own headings and added some brief commentary.” Open Culture
- Feature: Translating Shakespeare Into DNA, by David Ewing Duncan – “In an unexpected confluence of furtive love, lust, and nucleotides, researchers have proposed a new method for storing data: transforming information, including poetry, into DNA. Only William Shakespeare could truly appreciate the scientists’ choice of his own Sonnets to demonstrate their high tech prowess. It’s a moment where some of the finest couplets and rhymes ever written literally merge with the basic chemistry of life, and 400-year-old lines of verse are translated into As, Cs, Gs and Ts.” The Atlantic
- News: Authors face change as Amazon tightens affiliate policy on free Kindle books, by Laura Hazard Owen – “Amazon is cracking down on a policy that allows blogs and websites to earn money when users download free ebooks through their affiliate links. That means big changes in the ways that some self-published ebooks are promoted online.” Paid Content
- News: 2013 Finalists for Prestigious Sami Rohr Literary Prize Announced – “The Jewish Book Council today announced the finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The prize distinguishes the important role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience. The award of $100,000—one of the largest literary prizes in the world—honors a specific work as well as the author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature. A runner-up is awarded $25,000. ” Jewish Book Council
“Book Bits” is compiled several times a week or more by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy novels. Why not subscribe so you can find these links in your in-basket?