Actors who can’t star in their favorite literary roles are now narrating them instead. Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, and Dustin Hoffman are some of the celebrities who will lend their voices to audiobooks. The recordings, which will be released next year by Audible, will feature Winslet reading To the Lighthouse, Kidman reading The End of the Affair, and Hoffman reading Being There. “Colin Firth could read me the back of a Marmite jar and I would listen,” Audible founder Donald Katz remarked to UK paper The Observer. “I'd pay Dustin Hoffman to read from a cereal box.”
Literary meme of the day: Buzzfeed features photos of stacks of books lying around offices across the country. For some reason, the Washington Post stores its free books in an oversized cocktail glass.
Slate reprints Ron Rosenbaum’s 1971 Esquire phone hacking story that inspired Steve Jobs and Apple founding partner Steve Wozniak to start building the illegal devices.
Here’s a trailer for MetaMaus, a new book collecting the documents and materials that went into making Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus.
Amazon opens its third overseas e-book store in France.
Young Steve Jobs.
Computer games, ghosts, and treasure hunts were three of the highlights of Paul La Farge’s Luminious Airplanes book party, which The Observer describes as something between a “haunted house and a contemporary art installation”
Tin House goes digital.
At The Awl, Daniel D’Addario close reads photos of Joan Didion (but fails to mention a certain cover image...).
Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami’s longtime English translator, is underwhelmed by the pun in the title of Murakami’s forthcoming magnum opus, 1Q84, which plays off the Japanese pronunciation of the word nine (“Q”) and is therefore a not-so-subtle reference to Orwell’s 1984. Rubin’s verdict? “I don’t think it’s such a great title . . . I think it’s a pretty feeble pun, this whole thing, this Q."
If you have an unfinished Great American Novel stashed in a drawer somewhere, Morgan Spurlock wants to hear from you. Spurlock, the director behind films such as Super Size Me, the gorge-fest in which he ate nothing but McDonalds food for a month, is looking for failures—preferably literary ones—for a reality TV show called The Failure Club.
Tomas Tranströmer, from the Nobel website.
Getting to know your Nobel Laureate...
Late last night on the Scandinavian side of the world, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the 2011 Prize in Literature to Tomas Tranströmer, making him the first Swede in more than thirty years to win a Nobel. Sweden's best-known poet and a psychologist specializing in juvenile offenders, Tranströmer made his debut on Sweden's literary scene when he was just 23 with with his 1954 collection "17 Poems." Over the next decade, he started to make a name for himself across the Atlantic, befriending poet Robert Bly and falling in with the "Deep Image" school of poetry. A perennial Nobel contender, British betting house Ladbrookes gave Tranströmer 7/1 odds of winning the prize.
Despite being translated into more than fifty languages, Tranströmer remains relatively unknown in the U.S. outside of poetry ciricles and in the offices of New Directions, Graywolf and Ecco, who have published translations of his work. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux is planning to release another of his collections, “The Deleted World,” before Christmas). Bloodaxe Books editor Neil Astley describes Tranströmer “a metaphysical visionary poet,” and Granta editor John Freeman characterized him as “to Sweden what Robert Frost was to America,” but to get a better sense of his work, read excerpts of The Great Enigma on our website, courtesy of New Directions.
Unnamed poet, with beard.
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, whose work explores "themes of nature, isolation and identity" has won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Ethan Nosowsky, most recently the editor-at-large of Graywolf Press and formerly of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and the Creative Capital Foundation, is now McSweeney’s editorial director.
In honor of the fortieth anniversary of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Zach Baron heads to Sin City in search of Thompson’s ghost. “Writers only go to Las Vegas for one reason, really,” Baron writes in the first of his four-part series. “It is our World Series of Poker, except more pretentious.”
Hey, Richard Prince, what was it like to visit Bob Dylan’s studio? “I’m not going to tell you exactly where it was, but getting to his studio was like that scene in Goodfellas when Ray Liotta parks his car outside a nightclub... I think it’s Copacabana... and goes in a side entrance, down a hall past a lazy-ass watchman, into the kitchen, through another hallway, and out into the main room and ends up right next to the maître d’, who then ignores the people in line waiting to get in and hugs and kisses Ray and his girlfriend and shows them right down in front of the stage, where a small table, two chairs, and a plug-in lamp suddenly, miraculously, appear.”
The Digital Public Library of America is now live, and open for business.
Is it possible to impose a narrative on “digital pasts”? To sift through enormous amounts of data—what somebody Tweeted a year ago, where they checked in on FourSquare—and create what Clive Thompson calls “useful memories?” More companies think it is, Thompson argues in Wired, comparing the field to “geolocation as a Proustian cookie.”
The Poetry Foundation unearths Upton Uxbridge Underwood’s forgotten classic Poets Ranked by Beard Weight, which not only makes good on its title, but also presents its own system of beard classification.
Jeff Eugenides, in Times Square.
Hypertext fiction was once thought to be the next big thing, but instead it has basically vanished (when is the last time you read a hypertext novel?). Author Paul La Farge, whose new book Luminous Airplanes has an online “hyperromance” component, concludes that the promising medium was killed by bad timing and worse luck: “Born into a world that wasn’t quite ready for it, and encumbered with lousy technology and user-hostile interface design, it got a bad reputation, at least outside of specialized reading circles.”
For around fifteen Euros, public writers in France will polish your resume, write you a eulogy, and compose your love letters.
Jeffrey Eugenides is the unlikely star of a new Times Square billboard.
Emily Gould’s digital publishing outfit, Emily Books, is open for business and offering its first e-book, a reissue of the classic 1990s Ellen Willis essay collection No More Nice Girls. Willis’s reputation has been revived recently because of her music criticism, collected in Out of the Vinyl Deeps, but her most impassioned and brilliant work was published after she had mostly stopped writing about bands and shows in the late ’70s. As Sara Marcus writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Willis went on to become one of the most ecstatic, intellectually astute, and readable thinkers ever to come out of the radical feminist underground. You’re all agog over ‘My Grand Funk Problem—and Ours,’ but who among you has read the incisive essay ‘Lust Horizons’ (in No More Nice Girls), which confronts sex and power and morality in ways that still read as mind-blowingly fresh.”
Maurice Sendak on e-books: "I hate them. It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book! A book is a book is a book."
Indie publisher Melville House’s intriguing offer: Buy a Russian crime novel, get a penguin.
Miranda July (Photo credit: Yvan Rodic/FaceHunter).
New Yorkers! If you're not busy occupying Wall Street (or if you are, and need a break) come hear Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann read from his book Rich People Things and share his thoughts on "the predator class" at McNally Jackson tonight at 7.
An Italian court has overturned a 26-year prison sentence against Amanda Knox for allegedly murdering her British roommate while on a study-abroad program in Perugia. Knox, who has spent the past four years in prison, hasn’t said what she plans to do next, but according to her family, a book deal is likely.
Many reviews have pointed out the similarities between Leonard—the bandana-wearing, tobacco-chewing character in Jeffrey Eugenides's novel The Marriage Plot—and David Foster Wallace. Not so, says Eugenides: He was thinking more of the Axl Rose-ish, hacky sack playing guys who frequented the co-op during his college years.
St. Martin's Press will reportedly publish the inside story of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn “incident.”
In the New Yorker, Miranda July reflects on a youth spent shoplifting.
Ari Melber provides a precis of Jonathan Franzen’s recent talk with David Remnick, at which the Freedom author recalled telling Obama that Nixon was the “last liberal president,” and revealed that he is adapting The Corrections for HBO.
Electric Literature has handed out its latest batch of Critical Hit Awards. The recipients include Elaine Blair, whose excellent review of Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes earned her the Best Straight Face award, and Bookforum contributor Kerry Howley, whose new essay on Dwight MacDonald was named the Best 2,500-Word Seminar.
The London School of Economics advises academics on how to use Twitter.
Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is being adapted into a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks. It’s set to be released on Christmas Day. Here’s the trailer.
In the Times Higher Education supplement, Uwe Schütte, a former student of W.G. Sebald, reflects on Sebald’s tortured relationship to academia, and his final years teaching at the University of East Anglia.
What are the odds of Haruki Murakami winning the Nobel Prize for Literature? According to UK betting organization Ladbrookes, 8:1. The winner will be announced on Thursday.
A bookstore owner has busted a thief for selling New York Public Library books (mostly expensive graphic novels) to downtown sellers. “He would tear all the labels off of them so it would look like they were not from the library, [but] there were remnants of the stickers that used to be on the books,” East Village Books owner Donald Davis told the New York Post.
The Morning News excerpts photographer Chad States’ book Cruising, which documents anonymous gay sex in public parks.
A recommended reading list of self-help books from Paris Review editor Lorin Stein.
For your Monday amusement, a Freudian reading of the final terrifying scene in Fantasia.