Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Quick Hits

  • Phillip Pullman (author of the His Dark Materials trilogy) defends public libraries in the face of funding cuts in the UK: "No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?"
  • Turns out Vladimir Nabokov wasn't just one of the most beautiful writers of the the past century. He was also a self-taught lepidopterist, and his theories about butterfly evolution were recently confirmed by Harvard scientists.
  • An excellent post on the historical intersections between slavery and abortion, and a wonderful response to the right-wing rhetoric that equates a woman's right to choose with the institutionalized subjugation of Black Americans.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates hosts Brendan Koerner's essay on the future of reading. In the same vein, John McPhee in the Paris review on the future of writing.
  • Margaret Atwood has an upcoming book on science fiction and the human imagination. Must. Have. Although it's unclear if this means she's backing off her eternal distinction between SF and speculative fiction.
  • From the BBC, an interesting interview with Ursula LeGuin. She discusses how social anthropology has influenced her writing, among other things.
  • And finally, check out this 1994 Today Show clip (and Katie Couric's magnificently terrible hairstyle) as we ask that age-old question: What IS the Internet? The future is now guys!

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