Archive - June 13, 2012

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Tools of the (Writing) Trade
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Naughty Titles
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Hessler in Cairo

Tools of the (Writing) Trade

Here’s an interesting piece in of literary trivia that was in the Authors Guild Bulletin (Spring 2012). Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an English professor at the University of Maryland, gave a lecture recently at the New York Public entitled, “Stephen King’s Wang.” King’s first computer was a Wang. Kirschendaum collects old computers and hopes to discover “Who was the first novelist to use a word processor?” Mark Twain was the first to use a typewriter, for Life on the Mississippi, and The New York Times quotes Nietzsche, who typed, “Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts.” One of the earliest bestsellers written on a computer was Tom Clancy’s 1984 The Hunt for Red October. Frank Herbert’s Dune may have been submitted to his publisher in the late 1970s on 8-inch floppy disks, according to Kirschendaum. Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing is due for publication in . . .

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Naughty Titles

Titles with dirty words in them often wind up on bestseller lists according to a short item in the Authors Guild Bulletin, Spring 2012. In 2005, there was On Bullshit. Then followed Shit My Dad Says. In 2010 there was Assholes and in November Tucker Max wrote a sequel, Assholes Finish First. It made the trade paperback bestseller list, but not in the No. 1 slot.

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Hessler in Cairo

Every morning when I wake up to make coffee I flip on Morning Joe and  wait for the failed congressman to stop yapping so I can see if new rioting has taken place in downtown Cairo, and find out what’s new in Peter Hessler’s (China 1996-98) world. Where’s Peter, I’m thinking, as I watch the rioting in Tahrir or Abbasiya. Peter, I know, lives within blocks of city central, and I know he is just a crazy enough RPCV to get close enough to the action to get into real trouble. Well, the new New Yorker (June 18, 2012) has him alive and well and reporting on the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and what it means for Egyptians and the rest of us. The long article (it wouldn’t be a New Yorker article if it wasn’t long) has Peter and his translator Mohamed calmly walking toward another demonstration in . . .

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