Litblog Roundup is a bi-weekly overview of topics, trends and highlights from the literary Internet. In this roundup: some greatly exaggerated rumors about Mark Twain, the value of paragraphs, and more.
There’s an ongoing discussion about the difference between blogging and journalism. The discussion has a life that’s about as long as the life of blogging itself. One point that gets made in journalism’s favor is that a journalist is accountable to an editor, a company, and a paying audience. This accountability is supposed to ensure the reliability, integrity, and above all the fact-checking for which journalists are supposedly known.
The distinction isn’t always so black and white. For example, the Guardian’s books blog is a blog run by journalists. On may 4th, that blog featured an article that stated: “scholars at the University of California, Berkeley have uncovered and authenticated a cache of stories written by Mark Twain when he was a 29-year-old newspaperman in San Francisco. ”
Links to the post were shared, largely without comment, on several blogs: The Millions, Daily News from Poets & Writers, Largehearted Boy, The Paris Review’s blog… respectable lit blogs, all. The trouble is, the story about this new discovery of a trove of writings isn’t exactly true, or it is true, but it isn’t exactly news.
Nate Hoffelder, author of the Ink, Bits, & Pixels blog posted a little bit more on the subject, and did a little research.
I just got an email from Benjamin Griffin, an Associate Editor with the Mark Twain Project. … According to Griffin, the detail about the “cache” being uncovered was fundamentally incorrect. “Identifying and recovering the print journalism of Mark Twain in this period is an ongoing process, not a single find.”
Whether they are ultimately any different or not, blogs and journalism don’t do much of value if they’re just an echo chamber.
Elisa Gabbert is taken in by a book that I assume to be Leavetaking by Peter Weiss. The cover seems interesting. She reads the jacket, which explains that the entire book is written as a single paragraph. She put the book back down. Then, she eloquently considers the value of the paragraph:
I’m obsessed with what I’ve come to think of as the invisible transition, where there is no clear, necessary connection between two paragraphs, and yet – something happens.
Yes, the paragraph, and the spaces between them, can do some wonderful things, but they don’t always have to be there. Why not try some new literary forms once in a while? Perhaps it will be a way to say new things?
Independent Book Store Day NYC 2015
Independent Book Store Day was a great day in New York City. There were specials and activities and of course good books to be had, at bookstores throughout the city. There as an afterparty. Surely, a good time was had by all — except for those of us who weren’t in New York City that day. For those of us, there’s a great list of all the participating bookstores. Give them a visit if ever you’re in town. They all seem like great places to visit.
Touring the World’s Greatest Literary Pubs
When you’re done touring the independent bookstores, why not take a tour of the world’s greatest literary pubs, courtesy of an article in Men’s Journal that has been making the rounds lately. Now that Cuba might eventually become an attainable destination, the mention of Hemingway’s haunts might be of practical interest. Of note, but perhaps of less interest are the “fake” literary bars that pop up in many cities where famous authors have lived.
There are also the scores of bars without a distinct literary history that create their own through literary reference. Bars named Shakespeare and Melville and Bilbo Baggins. Edgar Allan Poe and his work is inspiration for dozens of bars up and down the East Coast. There are bars called The Raven and bars called Annabelle Lee. Poe was found in the gutter in Baltimore before he died, and The Horse You Came in on Saloon claims it was in their gutter. But the gutter was across town.
Mistah Kurtz — he Real?
It’s my custom for the litblog roundup to feature the things that are “trending” but it might also be of interest to share one of the “deep cuts,” something that is not trending but that might be worth a look. This time, I’ll leave you with this: a discussion on MetaFilter (and related material) that wonders who was the historical basis for the character of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.