Litblog Roundup is a bi-weekly overview of topics, trends and highlights from the literary Internet. This roundup features an oompa-loompa, messing with fonts, a moment of zen, and more.
Trying Too Hard
It seems that attention is like currency. Some people just can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s tempting to deny these avaricious fools the attention they crave. The list of these gluttons for attention includes the Donald Trump campaign and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Trump’s campaign managed to write, review, and perform a speech that was plagarized and ended with a rickroll. The speech was rewarded with lots of shock, outrage, and attention, but most of all attention. Then, the notorious poet Kenneth Goldsmith chimed in. His aesthetic is built around appropriation, so he said,
Right now, some feel that by swiping Michelle’s words without attribution, Melania committed an unsavory act of cultural appropriation. […] In a culture where most pop songs are constructed of samples and the clothes we wear are fast-fashion knockoffs, when will we finally be able to admit that a copy might be as good as—or even better than—the original?
It’s a very interesting choice of words there, “unsavory act of cultural appropriation” and it’s a topic Goldsmith knows well, considering that Goldsmith has recently committed one of those acts himself.
If you’re like me, the Kindle provides hours of fun, and not just because you can read on the thing, but because there are settings to tweak! With the newer kindles in particular, there are lots of font options for you to experiment with.
But what if you just want to know which setting is the best one? You might want to ask some typographically-inclined experts. Surely, if there’s a best option, they’ll agree. Let’s see what they have to say on the subject.
Georgia wasn’t the only Baskerville alternative experts liked. At the urging of Thompson, I checked out Palatino, a midcentury font developed to mimic types created in the Italian Renaissance. I’d never thought twice about it (to be honest, I always saw it as a poor man’s Baskerville), but in practice, I found it combined the character of Baskerville with the lower contrast readability of Georgia. Bigelow likes Palatino, too. In fact it’s his first choice of Kindle font—though he admits some level of bias, as he and his colleague Kris Holmes studied with its designer, Hermann Zapf. Frere-Jones feels it would “be a good choice,” if not his choice. Slimbach may be the least bullish on Palatino of the group. “While I think it is a brilliant face, for my taste it has a little too much personality for most book text applications,” he says.
So hopefully it’s clear that you should feel free to read an e-book in any typeface with any font size that you like.
The Book Was Better?
Kirsten Dunst will direct a film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. As with any film adapation of any book, the question arises: which will better? It’s a valid question, but it leaves out something that, to me, is a more interesting question: what is it, if anything, that the book can do, that only the book can do? Or, if you like, is there anything that the movie adaptation can do, that the book cannot? Let’s see if a new director can find that last thing, but a piece at Electric Literature seems skeptical.
I hope for the best, but maybe Plath has been avoided in adaptation for good reason. After all, if the movie was to get it wrong, she did once warn: “Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.”
And Now a Moment of Zen
I’m just going to put this here, because it has been making the rounds in some circles, with more than 1,000 shares.