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a blog about books and their desire to be loved

Category: Links

The Letter Where Adrienne Rich Declines The National Medal

Over at Brain Pickings, they have reproduced Adrienne Rich’s letter to President Clinton and The National Endowment for the Arts, where she declines her National Medal for the Arts award. The letter is short, but has powerful paragraphs like this one:

There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art—in my own case the art of poetry—means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A President cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.

There is also audio of Rich reading the letter on Democracy Now‘s radio show.


Off Topic: “The Rise of a Confident Hollywood”


I am currently a PhD student at York University, Toronto, Canada, and I have recently published an article on risk in the Hollywood film business. The article is free to read.

Here is a short abstract of the paper:

This paper investigates the historical development of risk in the Hollywood film business. Using opening theatres as a proxy for future expectations, the paper demonstrates how, from 1981 to 2011, Hollywood has improved its ability to predict the financial rankings of its films. More specifically, the Hollywood film business has become better at predicting which films will earn a greater-than average share of all US box-office gross revenues through a wide release strategy. This greater predictability suggests that confidence in film earnings projections has increased.

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Listening to Good Writing: The Case of Zinsser and This American Life

We can love a book for so many reasons, but one of them, maybe the essential one, is good writing. But good writing does not necessarily have to be printed in a book, and it does not even need to be read. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, an acclaimed book that was mentioned in an earlier post, has come to learn this truth at the age of 90. The New York Times recently published an article about Zinsser, whose eyesight has now been significantly damaged from glaucoma. Although no longer able to read himself, Zinsser now meets writers in one-on-one sessions in order to listen to works in progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Criterion Collection: Film Adaptations


Criterion Collection, the distributor of both old and contemporary films, has compiled a list of its films that are adaptations from novels: Novels on the Big Screen.

There’s a long-held and widespread feeling that a movie adaptation of a novel is never as good as the source. It’s easy to see how this became received wisdom, given the sheer difficulty of translating a plot that unfolds over hundreds of pages to a feature-length film’s running time, the immensity of the passions and mysteries that a novel can hold. The challenge for the film version is to function as its own work of art while at the same time reflecting a previously established perspective. But there have been many films that brilliantly interpret the literary universes they take on.

Definition of artistic representation?

Ireland’s central bank misquotes James Joyce’s Ulysses on its new commemorative 10 euro coin, and this is somehow an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation.

Thoughts? – [via The Guardian]

Listen: Dramatization of Orwell’s 1984

BBC 4 has a radio dramatization of 1984 that is available online for the next year. Part One and Part Two, which has a link but will be available soon. – [via Open Culture]

Out of Print Clothing

Anybody a fan of their apparel?

I wore out two of their shirts. One was a great Animal Farm t-shirt, and the other one was this:


A good Sunday read: an excellent essay on J.M. Coetzee.

We Need You Now More Than Ever, George Orwell


I am loving these new designs of David Pearson for the new editions of Orwell’s classic works. I also agree with Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing that the design for 1984 is particularly brilliant.


– [via Creative Review]

Woodie Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions in 1942

  1. Work more and better
  2. Work by a schedule
  3. Wash teeth if any
  4. Shave
  5. Take bath
  6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
  7. Drink very scant if any
  8. Write a song a day
  9. Wear clean clothes — look good
  10. Shine shoes
  11. Change socks
  12. Change bed cloths often
  13. Read lots good books
  14. Listen to radio a lot
  15. Learn people better
  16. Keep rancho clean
  17. Dont get lonesome
  18. Stay glad
  19. Keep hoping machine running
  20. Dream good
  21. Bank all extra money
  22. Save dough
  23. Have company but dont waste time
  24. Send Mary and kids money
  25. Play and sing good
  26. Dance better
  27. Help win war — beat fascism
  28. Love mama
  29. Love papa
  30. Love Pete
  31. Love everybody
  32. Make up your mind
  33. Wake up and fight

– [via Brain Pickings]