"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Original of Laura: A Novel in Fragments

I was browsing this in the local bookstore. It's actually fragments of a novel. It's printed with a facsimile of Nabokov's writing on index cards you can tear out, and type underneath of the same text. Which amounts to, although it looks like a big book, it's mostly white space because of the heavy stock and the format. I wonder if they think we are going to put the cards in order ourselves, play with his story?

The idea of being able to move pieces of writing around is appealing, that's why we have word processors. I can't see using index cards, tho. Wouldn't typed pages do just as well? Unless you were committed to writing the whole thing by hand and making your edits by hand on the cards. It'd work if you had a spouse who did all your typing, like Vera.

Upshot: I think the notes-for-book-in-cards is a weird concept. A marketing idea that has no use. Fluff. Anti-Nabokovian. What's next? A novel on Post-its? That's the way we'll be seeing Twitter novels, no doubt. I don't think the facsimile/type idea is a bad one, but tear-out cards, really.

Did the word processor make the typing wife obsolete? Discuss.
Bonus points if you tore out the pages of Hopscotch and rearranged the text as Cortazar suggested.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Should I Read Next?

I typed that into Google a little while ago, because, well, I was wondering, and found these sites: What Should I Read Next and Which Book. The sliders at Whichbook are fun, and both sites really do work, that is, come up with likely suggestions. Even if the books at Whichbook are often by U.K. writers who are not (yet) as available in the U.S.

And, here is an idea I'd like to see catch on, personal book consultants:
It’s called a Reading Spa and for £55 a person gets an hour of undivided attention from one of their extremely nice and knowledgeable booksellers. You sit and have tea and cake and talk about what you like, what you don’t like; they talk about what’s come out recently, what’s selling well. Based on this, they then go away and come back with a pile of books. £40 of that £55 goes towards these books, plus of course any extra you want to spend.
At the Penguin blog.