Thursday, November 25, 2010

November's Compendium of Literary Links

Happy Thanksgiving! To help you celebrate, here's an over-stuffed, extra meaty edition of the New Dork's compendium of literary links. Enjoy!

1. James Frey Is a Gigantic Tool — This fantastic article from New York Books Magazine written by a Columbia journalism graduate student named Suzanne Mozes reveals her experience working with Mr. Frey's company, Full Fathom Five. The company is dedicated to churning out commercial fiction, specifically, young adult and sci-fi novels, while ridiculously extorting the writers themselves. My friend Jeff, who sent me this piece, says it best: "...and I thought he was an ego-maniac BEFORE reading this article." It's a long article, but very well worth the time — especially when you get to the " be in a room with the big, bad James Frey" part. He is one teterrimous fella. 

2. Consider David Foster Wallace — This Newsweek piece takes a look at the University of Texas's collection of the more than 20,000 documents that now comprise the David Foster Wallace archive. From a draft of Infinite Jest to DFW's heavily annotated personal books to a story about a tea kettle he wrote when he was nine, it's an eclectic collection that provides even more insight into how one of the greatest writers of all time read, wrote and thought. I highly recommend clicking on the "View Interactive" link to see some of the documents with explanations of DFW's notes, as well as the "View List" link to see some pages that were cut from Infinite Jest. This LA Times Jacket Copy blog also discusses the archive, and points to the Newsweek piece.

3. Save the Words! — This site provides the one-of-a-kind opportunity to adopt a word that is slowly dying from the English language. All you have to do is commit to use the word you adopt as frequently as possible in everyday conversation. My word is teterrimous, which means "most foul." I picked it because the sample sentence the site provide made me giggle like Beavis for a good 30 seconds: "The ninja inadvertently announced his presence when he let out a teterrimous fart." What's your word?

4. Jonathan Safran Foer Reinvents the Book? — This short piece looks at Foer's new experiment in publishing, Tree of Codes. Here's how the article describes Foer's work: "Imagine a book — in this case the 1934 novel The Street of Crocodiles, a surrealistic set of linked stories by the Polish Holocaust victim Bruno Schulz — whose pages have been cut out to form a latticework of words. The result is a new, much shorter story and a paper sculpture, a remarkable piece of inert, unclickable technology: the anti-Kindle." The piece also says the "book" is read-able in about half an hour. Because of the complicated printing process involved, the book will retail for $40. What do you think — groundbreaking or gimmicky? 

5. Renaissance of Literary Magazines — "Literary magazines are getting popular again," proclaims this piece in the Guardian's Books Blog page. To clarify, though, irreverent, non-stuffy literary journals are the ones thriving in this low-attention-span information age. This jibes with many of the arguments put forth by The Power of Print ad campaign you've probably seen in many leading magazines: Magazine readership has actually grown in the last five years and four out of five adults read magazines. As someone who works for a magazine (though not a literary one), I couldn't be more delighted!


  1. Glad you made it to the Frey piece -- excited to see "I Am Number Four" yet???

    Enjoyed the well-placed Beavis reference! Also, thanks to you and your blog, I've had Everything Zen in my head all week...

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Another excellent list! My word is 'pugnastics' as in 'a demonstration of boxing ability'. I chose it because the example sentence includes Captain Kangaroo and as an Australian I felt a responsibility to adopt this word. Captain Kangaroo is also largely out of fashion these days. I would like to demonstrate my pugnastic skills to Mr Frey.

  3. My word is pigritude (laziness). Or maybe blatteration (blabber). Okay, I could spend hours here....

  4. Oh, I heard about that Save-the-Words site from this website called It has shirts with the covers of first edition classic books on them, but that's besides the point-I find it so scary how easily I discard fully written English while texting. Great turns to Gr8, and to &'s makes me extremely scared that the next generation who will use texting or something like it even more will not even know what fully written-out English is.
    Also, check out my blog Meditations of a Teenage Philosopher at where I swear never to use any sort of abbreviated language at all. Enjoy!

  5. blatteration is my word, though it was hard to pick just one. Thank you for sharing such a entertaining and educational site. I am sure I will visit for more word. But I will stop here, I would hate to be a accused of blatteration.

  6. Thanks for the info on Save The Words. I adopted Affictitious: Artificial,fake,counterfeit. Love your blog always fun and entertaining and never, affictitious.