paper trail

May 16, 2012 @ 4:37:00 pm

Chinua Achebe

Robert Caro has started a Twitter account. “To be clear,” he writes, “this account will almost certainly never be put to use. It has been reserved, however, ‘just in case.’"

Critic Michael Dirda gets candid with Reddit users in an “Ask Me Anything” interview. Among his responses: while he appreciates self-publishing, Dirda thinks that “if you’ve written something that people actually want to read” it will be published by a reputable house. He then goes on to name the worst book he’s ever read as “Judith Krantz’s Dazzle. Even the sex in the book was boilerplate, a totally meretricious work.”

After publicly complaining about how “there aren’t enough great novels in one year to make a top 10 list,” Lev Grossman admits that “even though it’s only May, I’ve already read enough novels I love to fill up most of my list for 2012.” Edward St. Aubyn’s At Last, Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark, Mark Leyner’s The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, Hari Kunzru’s Gods without Men, and Laurent Binet’s HHhH all get mentions, but it’s Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies that’s the excuse for the article.

A new study from Harvard Business School finds that Amazon reviews are as likely to reflect a book’s critical reception as professional newspapers. Study authors looked at a hundred non-fiction reviews from forty outlets—including the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian—for their survey, and compared them against Amazon buyer reviews. Overall, they found that although Amazon reviews are far from foolproof, “experts and consumers agreed in aggregate about the quality of a book.”

Chinua Achebe’s memoir about Nigeria’s 1967-1970 Biafra War is in the works with Penguin Press. There’s no publication date set yet, but the book is tentatively titled There Was A Country.

From Brooklyn Heights to Cornelia Street to St. Mark’s Place—W.H. Auden’s many residences around New York City.

How a book is born—one disheartening (but hilarious) infographic.