Tag Archives: History

The Unseen Theft of America’s Literary History 

This is a microcosm of the danger facing American archives. Because almost nothing is catalogued at the item-level, most of the unique material housed in these most important of repositories is particularly vulnerable to theft. When someone like Breithaupt steals a book, even a very old book, there is a catalog record that tells us it is missing—and likely some kind of duplicate copy somewhere else in the world. But when he steals a letter from Flannery O’Connor to John Crowe Ransom—unless that letter has been photocopied by another person—it basically ceases to exist. Not only do we not have the information in it, but we don’t even know that we don’t have the information in it.

Source: The Unseen Theft of America’s Literary History ‹ Literary Hub

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.