1. The horrific Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (which begat World War I, which begat World War II) began because of an intercepted letter called the Ems dispatch. With this in mind, it's pretty scary to hear that our current State Department -- those geniuses who helped bring us the Iraq War -- can't figure out not to do "reply-to-all". Jesus freaking Christ ... January 20th just can't come soon enough.
2. FYI, the above link is via Sarah Weinman, who recently talked to Jacket Copy about her amazing ability to read 462 books a year. Sarah explains:
A lot of it has to do with my music background. I studied voice and piano fairly seriously during my elementary and high school days, and as such, I became very attuned to rhythm and cadence and voice. So what happens when I read is that I can "hear" the narrative and dialogue in my head, but what's odd is that I'm both aware of the book at, say, an LP rate (33 1/3 revolutions per minute) but in my head it translates to roughly a 78.
I think I have pretty good rhythm too, but I am the opposite kind of reader. I can easily take a half hour to read three sentences, not because I read so carefully but because a good sentence will start me thinking about so many other things. I doubt I finished more than 50 books in 2008. Anyway, I'm fortunate to be a good friend of Sarah Weinman's, and the one thing I'd like to add is that she reads people as quickly as she reads books.
3. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is putting on a new production of one of my very favoritest plays of all time, Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard!
4. What! Who said marketing departments were allowed to be funny? This is from Macmillan.
5. Speaking of funny publicists, I don't know if I'll ever read Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake, but I like that title. Her new book will be called Show Me On the Doll, which proves that Sloane Crosley really has a way with titles.
6. Tao Lin gets some attention from New York Magazine.
7. A newspaper of blog reprints? Some have already twittered that The Printed Blog is a bad idea because the material will be stale, but I completely disagree. Why can't blog posts be timeless? To say that blog posts have no value beyond the moment is as unfairly dismissive as any other negative generalizations I've ever heard about the form. This ain't Twitter over here. And I guarantee you somebody will eventually start anthologizing tweets too.
8. Jonathan Baumbach talks about a successful experiment begun in the 1970s called The Fiction Collective.
9. Dovegreyreader talks about literary comfort food, specifically of the children's variety. I don't go back to my early "comfort food" too often, but if I did the menu would include Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill (why has this great book vanished from our sight?) and the All-Of-A-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor.