paper trail

"Little Red Book" re-released, Amazon fights FAA

In a thinly veiled attempt to make sure that nobody ever turns off their Kindle, Amazon has been prodding the Federal Aviation Administration to revise their rules about turning off electronic devices during takeoff and landings. Recent tests conducted both by Amazon and an FAA panel have found that use of electronics—contrary to conventional wisdom—have no effect on planes.

Even though Norman Rush is often credited with writing one of the most psychologically nuanced female characters in contemporary fiction (the unnamed narrator of Mating), that doesn’t mean that he’s especially good at writing women, argues Ruth Franklin at The New Republic: “There is a constant weirdness in all three of [his] novels in their attitude toward women and their bodies. It raises a peculiar kind of discomfort when a writer has his male characters exclaim over and over about how wonderful women are, yet that praise focuses on their genitalia. These women have little novelistic agency, little actual power; they are, quite literally, vessels for the male ego.”

To celebrate the 120th anniversary of the publication of China’s “Little Red Book” (officially known as Quotations from Chairman Mao) a new edition of the book will be released next month. It will be neither red nor little, and critics and pundits are split over whether its publication has anything to do with a resurgence in Maoist thought in China. Elsewhere in Amazon news, the company has announced that it will hire 70,000 additional workers for the holidays.

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts has won the $16,000 Forward Prize for his collection Drysalter. According to the Los Angeles Times, “each of the 150 poems in the collection is exactly 15 lines long; the title refers to an 18th-century store stocking poisons, powders, gums and drugs.” The poetry prize was in the news last month after it was revealed that one of its applicants, CJ Allen, had plagiarized in the past.

At the New Yorker blog, Daniel Mendelsohn turns to 20th century Greek poet Constantine Cavafy—and particularly his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians”—to make sense of the government shutdown.