Camilla Long’s scathing review of Rachel Cusk’s memoir Aftermath has won the annual “Hatchet Job of the Year” award. In little more than a thousand words, Long characterizes Cusk as “a brittle little dominatrix” and the book as a "vague literary blah, a needy, neurotic mandolin solo of reflections on child sacrifice and asides about drains." Ouch.
Given the rise in “showrooming” (the act of flipping through titles at a local bookstore before going home and buying the books on Amazon) booksellers are beginning to wonder whether charging customers simply to browse is as crazy as it sounds. In a BBC interview this week, UK HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley suggested that bookstores might want to experiment with the strategy. On this side of the pond, however, the idea wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. “If it comes to charging admission for customers to browse, we’re done,” said Mark Laframboise, the manager of the Washington, D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose.
Is it ever acceptable to judge a book by its cover? Yes, but only so long as its framed as a question of design. At The Millions, the editors pit U.S. book covers against their British counterparts.
A Valentine’s Day event called Naked Girls Reading (which is exactly what you think it is) has been cancelled at a Washington, D.C. bar because the “laws that govern the bar’s liquor license can’t tell the difference between performance artists and strippers.”
The Paris Review Daily takes readers on a guided tour of Amish romance novels, also known as “bonnet books.” In contrast to their hot-blooded brethren, these novels are“at the center of evangelical faith literature, with young Amish women often coming to experience a relationship with God tailored to their own personal plights.”
It it possible to summarize Proust? A Guardian book club is attempting to find out. One commenter has already kicked things off with Harold Bloom’s famous synopsis of Swann’s Way: "A comic novel about sexual jealousy."