Tag Archives: History

A Brief History of Book Blurbs

Chabon. Obreht. Franzen. McCann. Egan. Brooks. Foer. Lethem. Eggers. Russo.

Possible hosts for Bravo’s America’s Next Top Novelist? Dream hires for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop?

cover Nope — just the “Murderer’s Row” of advance blurbers featured on the back of Nathan Englander’s new effort, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank. And what an effort it must be: “Utterly haunting. Like Faulkner [Russo] it tells the tangled truth of life [Chabon], and you can hear Englander’s heart thumping feverishly on every page [Eggers].”

As I marvel at the work of Knopf’s publicity department, I can’t help but feel a little ill. And put off. Who cares? Shouldn’t the back of a book just have a short summary? Isn’t this undignified? But answering these questions responsibly demands more than the reflexive rage of an offended aesthete (Nobody cares! Yes! Yes!). It demands, I think, the level-headed perspective of a blurb-historian…

 

The Millions : I Greet You in the Middle of a Great Career: A Brief History of Blurbs.

One Wikipedia entry = 12 print books. Wow.

James Bridle, of booktwo.org, writes about how one entry in Wikipedia – The Iraq War – turned into a multi-volume set, 12 books in all.  Basically, Mr Bridle, took all the edits to that one entry, made between Dec. 2004 and Nov 2009 and turned them into a 12-volume look into ‘flow of history,’ Wikipedia-style

This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article,  during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.

It amounts to twelve volumes: the size of a single old-style encyclopaedia. It contains arguments over numbers, differences of opinion on relevance and political standpoints, and frequent moments when someone erases the whole thing and just writes “Saddam Hussein was a dickhead”.

It is a rather fascinating concept and posting.  Read it at booktwo.org.  See his presentation on Slideshare.  Or listen to his presentation at Huffduffer [he presented at dContruct 2010].

January 2010 Book Display

California’s most famous Gold Rush dates back to the morning of January 24, 1848, when James Marshall was making his customary inspection of the sawmill he was building for John Sutter. He was more interested in finishing the sawmill than the “shining flecks of metal” found in the running water. His discovery though, set an immediate “rush to the mines” and by the Spring of 1849, the largest gold rush in American History was under way. The people who really benefited from the large influx of people were the shipyard and lumber yard owners, since the population grew from 14,000 in 1848 to 250,000 by 1852. Other gold rushes include the Georgia Rush of 1829, Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 and the Porcupine Gold Rush of 1909. Come in and check out information on this great adventure in our country’s history.

December Book Display

Pearl Harbor photo

“A date that will live in infamy”

December 7, 1941 at 7:55 am (local time) nearly 200 Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii which was considered the US  “Gibraltar of the Pacific”. The raid, that lasted less than an hour, killed nearly 3,000 people. A declaration of war was requested by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and approved by the Congress on December 8th, which caused the United States to enter into World War II. Come check out our December Memorial Book Display as we explore past and present history books  and videos concerning this most important date.

Web site of the Week: Smarthistory

http://smarthistory.org/

This site has a unique homepage that allows you to explore art history by time period.   You can also browse by style, theme, or artist.  In addition to text and images,  SmartHistory also has videos and and podcasts that can be downloaded to your iPod.  Although the site has more contemporary art history information, Smarthistory is adding new material all the time.