Blog Archives

Talking Books talks about Spiral Jetta

June 24, 2008
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Talking Books talks about Spiral Jetta

We have posted about Erin Hogan’s Spiral Jetta several times already, but we won’t apologize for posting about it again. It’s a delightful book and it’s provoking some interesting reflections on land art. The latest is a thoughtful discussion on Ian Brown’s CBC radio program Talking Books, with panelists Lawrence Weschler (director of the New York Institute for the Humanities), Monica Tap (a Toronto artist), and Tom Jokinen (a writer in Ottawa). It’s an entertaining and insightful discussion: recommended. A description of the episode is on Words at Large, a CBC Radio site for book-related programs. A link to the audio is on that page; we couldn’t get that link to work, but went direct to the mp3 file. We also have an excerpt and an interview with the author. . . .

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Robert Pogue Harrison on WBUR

June 23, 2008
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Robert Pogue Harrison on WBUR

Robert Pogue Harrison, author of Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, was a guest last Friday on the public radio call-in show On Point from WBUR in Boston. Host Tom Ashbrook questioned Harrison about the literary and philosophical aspects of the garden. The call-in segment of the program elicited discussion of community gardens, gardens and church history, and secret and sacred gardens. In the second half of the program Irene Virag, garden columnist at Newsday and a writer for several gardening magazines, joined the discussion. You may also read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Newton Minow signs books virtually this Saturday

June 12, 2008
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Newton Minow signs books virtually this Saturday

Newton Minow will be signing books and answering questions at a virtual booksigning this Saturday, June 14th, at 12 noon CDT. Minow is co-author with Craig L. LaMay of the recently released Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future. The booksigning will be webcast from the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop at 357 West Chicago Avenue in Chicago. You may attend in person or online. The webcast will be available from VirtualBookSigning.net. On our own site we revisit some of the memorable moments from presidential debates, supplemented with images and links to online videos where available. Nixon sweating, “I knew Jack Kennedy,” presidential scowls and more. We also have an excerpt about the first televised debate between Nixon and Kennedy. If you’re interested in how a virtual booksigning works, take a look at this program from Book-TV. . . .

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The transformation of Harlem

June 11, 2008
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The transformation of Harlem

Derek S. Hyra, author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville, was interviewed today on the BBC Radio 4 program Thinking Allowed. Host Laurie Taylor, on the ground in Harlem, interviewed Harlem residents and neighborhood leaders, as well as Hyra and other authors to understand both the history of Harlem and the “Second Harlem Renaissance” that is renewing and stressing the neighborhood. Does gentrification bring upheaval or stability? Is change always good? Who are the winners and who are the losers? The archived audio is available from the BBC. . . .

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The Messiah can wait

June 10, 2008
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The Messiah can wait

Jonathan Rosen, editorial director of Nextbook, wrote an appreciative review of Robert Pogue Harrison’s Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition for the June 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Titled “Paradox Among the Petals,” the review begins: The rabbis of the Talmud counseled that if you are planting a tree and someone tells you that the Messiah has come, you should finish planting your tree and then go out to investigate. Robert Pogue Harrison implies something similar in his rich and beguiling Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. Gardens, though they offer peace and repose, are islands of care, he writes, not a refuge from it. That is why they are important, since care is what makes us human. This is the third book by Harrison that we have published and each has been a meditation on humanity and the natural world. As a professor of Italian literature, Harrison’s work is steeped in classical and modern literature, but as the quote above suggests, he also draws deeply from the religious and philosophical traditions. His previous books include The Dominion of the Dead and Forests: The Shadow of Civilization. Update June 11: Gardens was also reviewed in today’s . . .

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How to be alone, get lost, and find art

June 9, 2008
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How to be alone, get lost, and find art

“Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” asked Jack Kerouac. Erin Hogan was going on a solitary tour of the monumental land art of the American West. She says in an interview Saturday in the Salt Lake Tribune that she re-read Kerouac and “definitely felt like I was involving myself in the Great American Road saga.” Reporter Julie Checkoway wonders: why visit land art? Land art is this arena you walk into, and it changes your sense of space and time. The people who made it were trying to set up a different experience, giving us something. I wanted to experience that, a surprising built environment. But really, the book is mostly a road book. Yeah, I meditate on Michael Fried and the theatricality of landscape, but I’d like to think that someone who didn’t study art history like I did would encounter something very beautiful in Spiral Jetty. Update June 11: Erin Hogan is also interviewed today on ArtInfo. We have an excerpt from the Spiral Jetty section of the book as well as our own interview with Hogan. . . .

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Digital book burning

May 23, 2008
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Digital book burning

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Google’s laser beam

May 19, 2008
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Google’s laser beam

Forty-eight years ago last Friday, Theodore Maiman demonstrated the first laser at the Hughes Research Laboratory in California. We could have written a blog post about that. Turns out we didn’t have to. Last Friday Google had a special logo to mark the anniversary. A click on the logo executed a web search for “first laser” and the first search result was a book excerpt we created five years ago for A Century of Nature: Twenty-One Discoveries that Changed Science and the World. The ensuing traffic was incredible. Our website had almost half a million visitors last Friday, more than 25 times the traffic of the previous Friday. The uptick in traffic actually began about 6pm CDT on Thursday, as the clock turned to Friday in the Far East, and continued into the first few hours of Saturday. A “Google day” appears to last about 44 hours. Numbers like this are, of course, a testament to the worldwide reach and popularity of Google. They also testify to the boundless extent of human curiosity. . . .

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Audio: Gabriela Mistral’s mad poems

May 13, 2008
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Audio: Gabriela Mistral’s mad poems

Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945. Madwomen: The “Locas mujeres” Poems of Gabriela Mistral is the first appearance in English of all twenty-six poems of the “Locas mujeres” series, including those left unpublished at her death. Randall Couch edited and translated Madwomen and he recently gave a reading of seven poems from the book (together with a reading of the Spanish texts) at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. The complete one-hour reading can be downloaded from the Writers House site. . . .

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The vast wasteland of 1961

May 9, 2008
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The vast wasteland of 1961

On May 9, 1961 Newton N. Minow addressed the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, DC. President John F. Kennedy had recently appointed Minow to the chair of the Federal Communications Commission. To the assembled executives of broadcast television he said: I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland. You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials—many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it. You can read the text and listen to the audio . . .

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