paper trail

Jul 23, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Louise Erdrich

To-do list: New Yorker indie-rock and poetry fans, sell your soul to try to gain admittance to the poetry reading by the amazing Silver Jews frontman David Berman, whose cult-classic book Actual Air was one of Open City Books's first publications (along with Sam Lipsyte's classic Venus Drive). Aside from a few poems he published in The Believer, and the cartoons collected in the book The Portable February, Berman has been quiet as a published author for more than a decade. Here's your chance to hear what this armchair surrealist has been up to outside of the studio, where his lyrics, full of skewed wit and slanted insight, have remained exquisite.

Galleycat offers a round-up of coverage of the Andrew Wylie agency's new ebook imprint, which will publish Bellow, Roth, Borges, Updike, and Nabokov, among other literary giants. We can only hope that Wylie plans to make the rights for the Kindle's text-to-speech feature available, so we can hear the robot voice read Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. A stellar line-up to be sure, except for the fact that—so far, that is—the group is almost all dead dudes. Louise Erdrich is one of the few living authors—and the only woman.

The Pop Matters website features a post titled "Has the Inernet Killed Professional Book Reviews?," and then concludes: "old-fashioned book reviews are not dead yet. Well written reviews still have a lot to offer." Thanks, that's Good to know! Here's another question: What, exactly, is a "professional" book review? The New Yorker's James Wood is certainly a professional book reviewer, but is his column, or what he has to say, dead? Daniel E. Pritchard says no, but that online reviews offer just as much. Discuss.

Getting Even: The audiobook merchant has a classy splash page for the newly recorded "Woody Allen Collection" narrated by the author, but he probably won't work as a spokesman for them anytime soon. Allen says of recording audio books: "I imagined it would be quite easy for me, and, in fact, it turned out to be monstrously hard. I hated every second of it, regretted that I had agreed to it, and . . . found myself exhausted. The discovery I made was that any number of stories are really meant to work, and only work, in the mind’s ear and hearing them out loud diminishes their effectiveness."