Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Superior Person's Tuesday

Neoteny n. An indefinite prolongation of the period of immaturity, with the retention of infantile or juvenile qualities into adulthood. Classic condition of the sports commentator, the lexicographer, and of course the schoolteacher.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Metoposcopy appears in the second.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Godine @ The Getty

photographs courtesy of Laurie Selik

David Godine signs a book, happily.
Examining a photo from the archive.
David Godine with a sampling of his archive.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quality Assurance for Language

“People often think that editors are there to read things and tell people "no." Saying "no" is a tiny part of the job. Editors are first and foremost there to ship the product without getting sued. They order the raw materials—words, sounds, images—mill them to approved tolerances, and ship. No one wrote a book called Editors: Get Real and Ship or suggested that publishers use agile; they don't live in a "culture" of shipping, any more than we live in a culture of breathing. It's just that not shipping would kill the organism. This is not to imply that you hit every sub-deadline, that certain projects don't fail, that things don't suck. I failed plenty, myself. It just means that you ship. If it's too hard to ship or you don't want to deal with it, you quit or get fired.

I recently left zineland and did a bunch of freelance work and hooboy do people not know how to ship. A three-year project that yielded only 90-second page load; or $1.5 million down the drain with only a few microsites to show. And I've started to find myself going, God, these projects need editors. Editors are really valuable, and, the way things are going, undervalued. These are people who are good at process. They think about calendars, schedules, checklists, and get freaked out when schedules slip. Their jobs are to aggregate information, parse it, restructure it, and make sure it meets standards. They are basically QA for language and meaning.”

Paul Ford,

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Elements of Euclid, a review by David R. Godine

Imagine my surprise to see mentioned by The Barnes & Noble Review (on Twitter, in all the unlikely places) of our own illustrious publisher as reviewer! David R. Godine there offers his thoughts on The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid. It is a book dear to him not because he has any special affinity for Greek geometry — he might, actually, one never knows — but because this volume was published in its original ground-breaking form by a favorite press, “the great William Pickering,” in 1847. He writes:

“What is it that is so appealing about this book? Part of it, to be sure, is the colorful triangles, squares, and rhomboids that make up Byrne's argument. Part of it, too, is the total incongruity of the Victorian initials by the supremely talented Mary Byfield, not to mention a text that presents medial s's that had been abandoned by most printers five decades earlier. There is a tension between the colorful, modernistic shapes and the archaic typography. As in all Whittingham printing, the registration of the four colors is perfect, no mean feat for a book that was undoubtedly printed on a hand press. Despite the poor paper (I have never seen a copy that was not badly foxed) this book now fetches a higher price than any title that Pickering issued — well into the five figures.”

Read the rest of his review at The Barnes & Noble Review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Elizabeth David in “The Kitchn”

Elizabeth David has no patience for the uninspired food of post-WWII England and her response makes for very good reading. She writes with a trust that her readers are an intelligent and resourceful bunch (much like herself) and does not mince words in her recipes. So pick up a copy of one of her Mediterranean-influenced books, throw yourself into a hammock and disappear into another world for a while. Then wriggle your way out and into the kitchen where, thanks to her influence, you will probably have a little garlic and fresh herbs, some olive oil, pasta, anchovies and a good hunk of parmesan on hand. From here, all sorts of magic is possible!”
— Dana Velden at The Kitchn

Enter HERE for a chance to win a free copy of South Wind Through the Kitchen! The contest ends and two winners will be randomly selected on Friday, July 23.

Have you seen our phone booth?

Study like a Scholar, Scholar

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cheyenne Madonna in Publishers Weekly

click to buy Cheyenne Madonna from the Black Sparrow website

“In seven interconnected stories Native American author Chuculate pursues the painful self-discovery of a Creek / Cherokee youth trying to distance himself from his family's chronic drinking, impoverishment, and racism. In ‘YoYo,’ Jordan, the dreamy protagonist of most of the stories, finds his myopic world abruptly pried open by the appearance of an older, and dazzlingly fast, black girl named YoYo. In ‘A Famous Indian Artist,’ Jordan describes the disintegration of his admiration for his uncle, Johnson Freebird, the only relative he has who has lived a creative life. In ‘Dear Shorty,’ Jordan depicts his alcoholic father, Shorty, in shockingly unsparing and unsentimental terms; after first following disastrously in his footsteps, Jordan achieves stature as an artist, yet continues to try to connect with his father, even after it's too late. Chuculate writes forthright prose in a somber key, examining without judgment the lives of Native American characters like Old Bull, a Cheyenne who, in ‘Galveston Bay, 1826,’ the collection's one stand-alone story, ventures out to see the ocean for the first time, only to get savaged by a hurricane. Memory and will converge here to powerful effect.” — Publishers Weekly

Superior Person's Tuesday

Metoposcopy n. Judging character from the appearance of the face. A casual look in the bathroom mirror first thing in the morning will readily demonstrate the fallibility of this notion.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Metoposcopy appears in the second.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview With David R. Godine

Nigel Beale over at Nota Bene Books has posted the audio to a wonderful half-an-hour interview with David R. Godine. The two discuss Godine Publisher's early days, the art of book collecting, and David's most prized titles, both as a collector and a publisher.

Superior Person's Tuesday

Limaceous a. Sluglike, having to do with slugs.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Limaceous appears in the first.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Perec: Praise & a Giveaway

Over at the Top Ten Books blog, Arthur Phillips writes in praise of George Perec's masterpiece, Life a User's Manual. “The first miracle: A novel built from a strictly limited construction — the description of one single moment in a Paris apartment building — blossoms into an encyclopedia of stories and life spanning centuries, the globe, the history of literature. The second miracle: A moving, humane novel composed of implausible, even impossible parts. Perec’s brainy puzzle-book somehow produces the exhilarating, alternating certainties that life is beautiful, cruel, sweet, meaningful.”

You can enter a free giveaway of Life a User's Manual over at the Top Ten Books blog. Many thanks to Chad Post of Open Letters Books and the Three Percent blog for including the book in his personal top ten list, and for his consistent and emphatic support of Georges Perec and all literature in translation.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aram Saroyan on Jim Carroll

from the article “Blue Galahad,” at Jacket Magazine

“Jim lent me a manuscript copy of The Basketball Diaries, which was still unpublished, albeit now legendary. The strongest impression I took away from that first reading was that in a certain light his heroin use was like the flipside of the strenuous physical and psychic demands of his life as a basketball scholarship boy. Near the end f the book there was a sequence about a Greenwich Village romance that seemed full of a quieter, richer light. When I read the book again nearly a decade later when it was finally published, I asked Jim about this missing part and he responded casually that it had been cut.”

Aram Saroyan is the author of the Black Sparrow Books title Door to the River: Essays & Reviews from the 1960s into the Digital Age

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Superior Person's Tuesday (or, ahem, Wednesday)

Kalopsia n. A state in which things appear more beautiful than they really are. Presumably love.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Kytiologic appears in the third.

Millicent Dillon on Jane Bowles

from the interview with A. Victoria Mixon

“The relationship between Jane’s work and Paul’s work was as complex as the relationship between the two of them. In that relationship she looked to him for support (including economic support) as well as early on, as with Two Serious Ladies, with shaping the work in terms of form — so that he suggested taking out the third serious lady, and she readily agreed. In her early letters, when he does start publishing, stories at first, and then getting the novel contract, you can hear the anguish in her voice. She admits to jealousy and then tries to smooth it over, but it’s obviously there. In the same way she suffered from his relationship with [his long-term lover] Ahmed Yacoubi.”

Order Out in the World: the Selected Letters of Jane Bowles
from the Black Sparrow website

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Andrew Motion on Anne Carson

The deconstruction of "Poem 101" (which we do at one point find in a complete English version) allows the construction of Nox. It gives it backbone, as well as a clear theme. This, like other elements of the structure, revolves around how much or how little it is possible to grasp of a person, which Carson interestingly equates with the question of translation itself. Long before we get to the end of her dismantling, we realise that everything she is doing with the poem by Catullus is a parallel to the work she has undertaken to recover her brother: "Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light. Human words have no main switch. But all those little kidnaps in the dark. And then the luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of them that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page you were trying to translate."

Read the rest of Sir Andrew Motion's sparkling review at The Guardian

Purchase Sir Andrew Motion's collection of poetry The Mower or his memoir In the Blood from the Godine website.

On Music & the Soul

“Now and then when she was listening to music this premonition touched her soul secretly, somewhere a long way out. . . . She would feel a start of terror, suddenly aware of her soul's existence in the realm of the undefined. But every year, as winter passed away, there came a time when she felt nearer to those outermost frontiers than at other times. During those naked, strengthless days, suspended between life and death, she felt a melancholy that could not be that of ordinary craving for love; it was almost a longing to turn away from this great love she possessed, as though faintly glimmering ahead of her there were the road of an ultimate destiny, leading her no longer to her beloved but away from him, defenseless, out into the soft, dry, withered expanses of some agonising desert. And she realised that this came from a distant place where their love was no longer solely between the two of them, but was something with pallid roots insecurely clutching at the world.”

Robert Musil, "The Perfecting of a Love," from Five Women