Readersforum's Blog

March 18, 2013

Yale Awards $1.35M to Nine Writers

JohnnyThe Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale announced the inaugural winners of the Windham Campbell Prizes, a new global writer’s award created with a gift from the late Donald Windham and his partner, Sandy M. Campbell. Nine $150,000 prizes were awarded for outstanding achievement in fiction, nonfiction and drama.

The recipients, who range in age from 33 to 87, are James Salter, Zoë Wicomb, and Tom McCarthy in fiction; Naomi Wallace, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Tarell Alvin McCraney in drama; and Jonny Steinberg, Adina Hoffman and Jeremy Scahill in nonfiction.

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March 15, 2012

Encyclopedia Britannica halts print publication after 244 years

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 10:17 am

Seven million sets later, Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer publish volumes in print. Photograph: Robert Mullan / Alamy/Alamy

The paper edition of the encyclopedia ends its centuries-long run, but is it a victim or beneficiary of the digital age?

By Tom McCarthy

Its legacy winds back through centuries and across continents, past the birth of America to the waning days of the Enlightenment. It is a record of humanity’s achievements in war and peace, art and science, exploration and discovery. It has been taken to represent the sum of all human knowledge.

And now it’s going out of print.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that after 244 years, dozens of editions and more than 7m sets sold, no new editions will be put to paper. The 32 volumes of the 2010 installment, it turns out, were the last. Future editions will live exclusively online.

For some readers the news will provoke malaise at the wayward course of this misguided age. Others will wonder, in the era of Wikipedia, what took the dinosaur so long to die. Neither view quite captures the company or the crossroads.

 

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November 25, 2011

Tom McCarthy: My desktop

Filed under: Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:15 am

A life 'laced with code' … Tom McCarthy's desktop

In the first of a new series where writers show us around their working lives by revealing what’s on their computer desktops, Tom McCarthy explains how technology is woven into his creative life.

Interview by Ben Johncock

I don’t have a desktop image. It’s best to write against nothing, rather than something. Just having white, pure white, is seductive. Anyone who’s ever pissed on snow will understand this.

I must belong to the only generation of writers who’ve written with all three of inkpen, typewriter and computer. It definitely matters: the technology colours not only the rhythm but the whole logic of what you write. Think of Kafka’s obsession with writing machines: the harrow that inscribes the law onto the skin in In the Penal Colony or the mysterious writing desk in Amerika: writing technologies themselves are imbued with terrifying and sacred dimensions, and become the subject, not just the medium, of the story. I used to have a beautiful old German typewriter, that you had to throw your fingers at and the keys would smash into the roller. It felt like a machine-gun or something. I do everything on the laptop now, although I print notes out and mark them up.

“Satin Island” is the provisional title of the next novel – hence “Research for SI” and “si world stuff”. It’s all about pollution and mutation. It’s going to have a leitmotif of a parachutist falling to earth, having realised that his parachute has been sabotaged: his relation to the landscape, death, technology. It’s only half-formed at the moment – less than half – that’s the ‘Parachutist stuff’ document.

The “Columbia talk” folder and presentation is a talk I gave to the students and faculty at Columbia University in New York. It’s called “Noise, Signal and Word: How Writing Works”. I trace the figure of Orpheus from Ovid through Rilke to Cocteau, looking in particular at the roles of transmission and reception. Rilke’s Orpheus is associated with a giant ear; Cocteau’s spends half his time listening to the radio. I think this has something vital to tell us about what the writer – any writer – is essentially doing.

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