Sunday, December 13, 2009

All That and Don Delillo

After a short interlude, the Notes Taken returned to its business this week: book reviews, first, with Matt reviewing Natacha Merrit's Digital Diaries, followed by Devin's review of Peter Linebaugh's The Magna Carta Manifesto. We also found a choice quote from Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey, and Devin finished out the week by rewriting the course description for the course he is teaching in January. We know it's late, but he didn't find out until Thursday.

Not our busiest week, but we've been doing lots of reading:
  • An excerpt from David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King.
  • And, also from the New Yorker, "Midnight in Dostoevsky" by Don Delillo.
  • The contention over the estate of Stieg Larsson continues. Don't know who Larsson is yet? He was a left-wing journalist who wrote, in his spare time, a crime-novel series called Millenium. Just as he was about to see the books published, he died, leaving no will, and apparently not aware that his common-law partner Eva Gabrielsson would receive nothing. The moral and economic rights to Larsson's work reverted to his father and brother, who apparently aren't sharing. Sharing what? Let's see:
An amicable settlement might have been possible in the beginning. But the situation was instantly complicated by publication of Larsson's first book in the summer of 2005 and its runaway success. In Sweden alone, 3.5 million copies of his novels have been sold, about one for every three people. Worldwide sales exceed 20 million in 41 countries.
  • Stephanie McMillian, at Counterpunch, calls out Jared Diamond for shilling for large corporations. Here's an example:
The motivations for these companies to reign in their destruction of the world are, without exception, self-serving and purely concerned with the bottom line. It costs too much to clean up oil spills, retrofit factories, and crush angry natives. Diamond’s sympathies are 100% in line with this, and his only desire seems to be to assist these corporations in their accumulation of profit. “We should reward companies that work to keep the planet healthy,” he urges. He doesn’t express the slightest concern for the well-being of the natural world itself or for the living beings who comprise it.

He talks about the challenges that Coca-Cola faces in finding acceptable sources of water, and tries to convince us that “Hence Coca-Cola’s survival compels it to be deeply concerned with problems of water scarcity, energy, climate change and agriculture.” But the obvious point remains unsaid: Coke is not a necessity. It is in fact harmful to those who drink it. We don’t NEED to solve the problem of how Coca-Cola obtains water, or provide incentives for them to do it less destructively, because they could just fucking stop making it. Now there’s a simple solution.
  • Kirkus Reviews shuts down. It was a trade journal on book reviews for librarians; you might know it from the occasional citation on Amazon.
  • And, 200 Waldenbooks stores are shutting down, which has brought some attention to the industry practice of trashing books after ripping of their front cover (the front cover is returned to the publisher for credit).

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