A Lit Gloss blowout.
This weekend Slate’s editor Jacob Weisberg wrote an ode to his new Kindle, saying its existence “marks a cultural revolution” and “tells us that printed books, the most important artifacts of human civilization, are going to join newspapers and magazines on the road to obsolescence.”
EM- Embracing Mankind
HB- Heady Business
For now, though, books continue to be printed—on paper—and PW is still in business to preview them. Let’s look at some solvent publishing houses and see what they have to offer this spring.
March: Dean Falk’s Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language is set to make waves in the anthropological/linguistic/ scientific community (watch out!) with a new theory of why we speak the way we do. The idea is that all that insane parental burbling and cooing, which Falk calls Motherese and contends is universal, is actually at the root of all language. Prediction: The word “Motherese” will move into popular parlance and Falk will be tapped for a more accessible version of her theory about mothers and babies, perhaps on Oprah. … If you think the War on Drugs is messed up, read Devra Davis’ The Secret History of the War on Cancer, now out in paperback, for an interesting and equally depressing counterpoint. Why, epidemiologist Davis asks, are we so focused on solutions like chemo and radiation but so seemingly disinterested in controlling the etiology of the disease? Because Big Tobacco and other large, wealthy industries have too much power and public health officials have too little courage. The Washington Post said Davis’ book “illuminates the underbelly of medical research.”
April: Here’s another one that could be co-opted by Oprah, if she’s able to grasp its meaning: Thomas Metzinger’s The Ego Tunnel. Metzinger’s contention is that there’s no such thing as one’s self—that it’s all made up by the brain, like a hallucination. You think you know who you are? There is no you. This guy must be a blast at parties.
May: Malina Saval originally conceived The Secret Lives of Boys as a cover story for LA Weekly, and expanded it to 304 pages after crisscrossing the country interviewing teenagers from all kinds of backgrounds, like a Young Adult industry Studs Terkel. Saval’s website is trying really hard to be cool, so when you click on Excerpts, you get three options: “If you are an indie fuck, read this,” “If you are a mini adult, read this” and “if you are a rich kid, read this.” But the book itself seems quite compelling, especially if you’re interested in young boys. (Not like that! Perv.)
April: Nothing like taking 20 years off. That’s what C. Tyler did, and when she came out with Late Bloomer, an apt title, Mr. Comics himself, Chris Ware, called her “one of the true greats of the ‘underground’ generation.” Now she follows Bloomer up with You’ll Never Know, about her relationship with her father, who was a World War II veteran. Mixing a range of styles to represent different time periods, Know is being released in three luscious hardcovers, one per year, over the next three years. Book One is A Good and Decent Man. … And speaking of underground artists, Fantagraphics is releasing even more R. Crumb: The Complete Crumb Comics, Vol. 4 (1966-’67) and Vol. 9 (1972-’73). If you saw Crumb, the movie, and were fascinated by Crumb’s brother Charles, you’ll like Vol. 9, which includes a story about Charles’ stay in a mental hospital. Good stuff.