Monthly Archives: July 2016

Quotable

Writing

You have to write every day. You can’t always write well, and sometimes you can’t write at all, but if you’re not there at your desk trying, then you won’t succeed. Before then, I had thought of writing as something akin to divine inspiration. I would wait for the muse. Turns out you have to be dressed and ready for the muse or she will never come.

Jay McInerney on meeting Raymond Carver, as told to The Paris Review

July 29, 2016 / read / watch / Comments Off on Quotable

Press Button, Get Literature

Short Edition

File this under: Greatest Invention Ever, cross-filed under: Thanks, France! (I’m running out of room in that latter filing cabinet, quelle surprise).

Two French bibliophiles, Quentin Pleplé and Christophe Sibieude, were buying snacks at a vending machine in 2013 when one of them postured (because really, this is literally what I fantasize most French men walk around discussing): “Wouldn’t it be better if these dispensed short stories instead?” A year later the pair had developed a prototype machine that did just that, and by October of 2015 they had their first public installation at the Tourist Information office in Grenoble. They’re called Short Edition, and they call themselves the Distributeur d’histoires courtes — the distributor of short stories. Their website says, “Notre ambition est de voir fleurir des Distributeurs un peu partout pour promouvoir la lecture – et l’écriture – et pour faire connaître nos auteurs.” (“Our ambition is to see blooming Distributors everywhere to promote reading – and writing – and to publicize our authors.”) The machines are tall cylinders with just a few buttons, marked with numbers corresponding to the length of time each story takes to read. If you have only one minute while waiting in line at a teller, press “1”, and a short strip of paper spits out of the machine. If you have a longer lunch break later on in the day, press “5”, and a slightly longer story prints out for you. And the best part is, they’re free.

The stories are randomly selected by the machine when you press a button, but have to have first made the cut and been chosen by readers on their website, though, oddly, the majority of the stories printed by the machines are written by authors who wish to remain anonymous. These have actually been perfect for me to practice my reading comprehension en Français. The best of the stories are published in traditional, physical book form, or as audiobooks, or e-books, and now, in the machines.

Short Edition

Why a machine that distributes literature? A 2013 poll by Institut français d’opinion publique (Ifop), “found that seventeen per cent of [France’s] population had written a manuscript of one kind or another, most of them unpublished.”[1] Short Edition has been a free publishing platform for writers since 2011, and estimates they have 10,000 authors and a readership of around 150,000. In an interview with The New Yorker, Sibieude said:

The written word isn’t dead…Smartphones have blurred the limits between our professional life and our distractions. The paper format provides a break from omnipresent screens. People may not have reacted so strongly to our vending machines six years ago, when smartphones hadn’t become essential to all parts of our lives yet.

Men after my own heart!

I caught a segment on Short Edition on CBS Sunday Morning this weekend my first thought was that this was just too good to be true. My second thought was to figure out how quickly I could get to Grenoble. (My third thought was, “How well can I translate my own novel in French?”)

But maybe I don’t need to go as far as Grenoble after all. Director Francis Ford Copolla recently installed one in his café, Zeotrope, in San Francisco. I’ve never been to the city by the bay, and this might make the perfect excuse! You can rent the machines from Short Edition for €500/mo., which seems like a worthy investment. (I’m looking at you, Starbucks!).

July 12, 2016 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 2

The Home of My Dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

House of my dreams

Bibliophile (bib·li·o·phile/ˈbiblēəˌfīl) noun: a person who collects or has a great love of books.

I have fantasies of filling my home to the brim with books. Dusty paperbacks, dog-eared hardcovers, heavy reference books, art books, coffee table books, pocket novels, yellowed edges, annotations in the margins in pencil by someone else’s hand, spines cracked, bookmarks left in place, inscriptions on the cover page. I want so many books I could use stacks of the as furniture. Books piled in the corner, books in my kitchen cabinets, shelves in my library bowing from the sheer weight. And one day, at the old age of 101, I want to reach for a book as I get in bed to read as I fall asleep, and I want to set off a domino-effect avalanche that smothers me and takes me from this world in a crush of the literary greats. (Is that morbid? A touch?) I want to bottle the smell of a well-read book (and luckily someone already has), I want to run a secret bookstore from my home (and someone already does), I want to turn them into works of art (and someone already has), and I want to burn a candle that smells like a leather-bound library (and I already have). I love books. I love their transportive power, the worlds they contain, and, at a time when swiping mindlessly with your thumb and binge-streaming content are the new norm, I love the thrill of literally turning a page to find out what happens next. I love books so much I’m writing my own.

So when I found this home, in South Holland, the Netherlands, I knew the owner was a kindred spirit. A bibliophile’s dream home, this sprawling “city palace,” as the listing calls it. Ten bedrooms, over 11,000 ft2, and more books than my brain could handle without dissolving into jealous mush. Who lived here?? Why are they selling?? Is that library where Disney found inspiration for the Beast’s library in “Beauty and the Beast”?? WHAT DOES THAT LIBRARY SMELL LIKE? When I’ve pictured my dream home, it always had a view of the Eiffel Tower, but after seeing this listing I’m realizing I was a few countries off. I wouldn’t change a thing. Give me rooms full of books, a stack of gilded mirrors leaning against a wall, creaky wood floors, and a staircase I would invariably tumble down because I would spend all of my days with my nose in a book. How does one say, “Gimme” in Dutch?

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July 1, 2016 / home design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 2