The litter in littérateur. Ricky Opaterny on Books, Music, Art, and Sports


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-31

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • Why you shouldn't update Instapaper on your iPhone to version 2.1: #
  • Nicholson Baker re Kindle: "Where were sharp black letters laid out like lacquered chopsticks on a clean tablecloth?" #
  • I guess I'm slow, but I just realized that the Kindle doesn't actually reproduce the looks, layouts, or even fonts of printed books. Boo! #
  • What if Apple gave AT&T another year of iPhone exclusivity in exchange for free wireless for all Apple tablets? Yes! #
  • Hilarious test of speech recognition using classic works of literature: #
  • Finally, someone in business–Paul Graham–locates the value in being uninterruptedly alone: #
  • PW reviews Nabobov's Original of Laura. I can't wait to see the facsimile index cards! #

PW reviews Nabokov’s The Original of Laura

Filed under: Books,General — Tags: , , , , , — Ricky @ 11:02 am

Publisher’s Weekly has the first review of Valdimir Nabokov’s last book, The Original of Laura. The magazine calls the book a “very unfinished work [that] reads largely like an outline.” What’s most interesting and exciting is how the book will look:

Knopf is publishing the book in an intriguing form: Nabokov’s handwritten index cards are reproduced with a transcription below of each card’s contents, generally less than a paragraph. The scanned index cards (perforated so they can be removed from the book) are what make this book an amazing document; they reveal Nabokov’s neat handwriting (a mix of cursive and print) and his own edits to the text: some lines are blacked out with scribbles, others simply crossed out. Words are inserted, typesetting notes (“no quotes”) and copyedit symbols pepper the writing, and the reverse of many cards bears a wobbly X. Depending on the reader’s eye, the final card in the book is either haunting or the great writer’s final sly wink: it’s a list of synonyms for “efface”—expunge, erase, delete, rub out, wipe out and, finally, obliterate.


A knockout show at the Met

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 12:16 pm

Jed Perl, writing in The New Republic, calls the current show at the Met of drawing in the middle ages “a knockout.” I can’t wait to see it.


Response to Amazon removing books from users’ Kindles

Filed under: Books,General,Technology — Tags: , , — Ricky @ 9:52 am

David Ulin writes in the LA Times about Amazon’s latest: “The issue, in other words, isn’t that Amazon has erased material from people’s Kindles, or de-ranked gay and lesbian writers, but that it can. This is the problem with the digitized canon and the electronic frontier: It’s mutable to the point of being vulnerable.”


Jonathan Lethem’s used books for sale

Filed under: Books,General — Tags: , , , — Ricky @ 12:31 pm

Jonathan Lethem has opened a used bookstore in Blue Hill, Maine, called Red Hand.


Don’t update your iPhone’s Instapaper to version 2.1

Filed under: General,Technology — Ricky @ 8:26 am

As many of you know, one of my favorite iPhone applications is Instapaper. I use it to read pretty much anything I don’t want to read when I find it on my computer—generally long essays from the New Yorker, Atlantic, and New York Review of Books. Unfortunately, the latest version of Instapaper Free is simply a downgrade masquerading as an upgrade. This version removes the ability to save your place if you quit the application while in the middle of reading a saved article. However, it has two other qualities that are far worse: it shows ads and it only allows you to keep your ten most recently saved articles on the iPhone. I’m still running the old version of Instapaper, and will continue to do so because it’s allowed me to save over 100 articles from the web to my phone. Whenever I need something to read, I just go to Instapaper. Some articles are months old, but I frequently dig into my archive for reading material, especially if it’s a long essay or short story from the New Yorker. I really like the old Instapaper and hope that I’ll be able to continue using it. If not, I guess I’ll go back to paper—that is the kind that comes from trees.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Enable emoji on your iPhone

Filed under: General,Technology — Ricky @ 10:13 pm

Picture 5

Somehow, there’s still an application available in Apple’s App Store that lets you enable emoji, those Japanese smileys and other icons, on your iPhone. Instructions are available on Just Another iPhone Blog.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-24

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm


Can you text while driving? Of course not!

Filed under: General,Technology — Tags: , , , , — Ricky @ 5:51 pm

This Flash game on simulates the effect of texting while driving. It’s pretty much impossible to maintain sufficient concentration on driving and changing lanes unexpectedly. Unfortunately, most people who text while drive don’t ever realize that because they’re never in an accident, despite texting, until they are.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-17

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • Any other auction sites that people use now that eBay has moved to more fixed price listings? #
  • "… the main thing you need as a writer is a sense of certainty that you won’t be interrupted." –Roxanna Robinson in today's NYT #
  • One thing fiction does is that it fosters the belief that what's possible in the world is more rather than less. #
  • A nice display of books at Liquor Bar in TriBeCa. #
  • How to read PDF books and other large PDFs on the iPhone? The best answer is GoodReader: #
  • The standards for getting a word into Webster's are very low: #
  • Let's see Obama's arm! #
  • Ted Williams in a Pepsi commercial? Noooo! #
  • "There is no real way to deal with everything we lose." –Joan Didion #

Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Dave Eggers’ Dates.

Filed under: Books,General — Tags: , , , , — Ricky @ 12:18 pm

I recently read his new book, Zeitoun, and wanted to note here that Dave Eggers is doing a few events in the Bay Area. Make it out if you can. (more…)

The NewsHour on the future of publishing

Yesterday on the NewsHour Ray Suarez discussed the future of the book publishing business and its handling of e-books with Jonathan Karp of Hachette’s Twelve, one of my favorite imprints. Karp likens the publishing business to gambling, but what business isn’t like gambling? I found his analogy between the Kindle and the Walkman to be a little misleading, however. Sony, though it had a music library when the Walkman came out, didn’t have the same retail relationship with customers. The comparison would be more apt if Karp’s employer, Hachette, was the one behind the Kindle and not Amazon.

Suarez prefaces the conversation with a brief segment about the book business as a whole, including a story about layoffs at Tattered Cover in Denver and a customer’s book buying binge of a response. (more…)


How to read large PDFs—books, articles, etc.—on your iPhone

Filed under: Books,General,Technology — Tags: , , , — Ricky @ 10:46 pm


In the past, I’ve tried emailing large PDFs to myself to read using the iPhone’s native PDF viewer. Unfortunately, it’s extremely slow with any sort of large file, so reading books is out of the question. I also tried importing PDFs of books into Stanza. However, the files tend to lose all formatting and line breaks, giving you large continuous paragraphs of text with page numbers and headers embedded in the text of the work itself. One of the reasons why I would like a Kindle DX is to read PDFs of books and journal/magazine articles. However, there are also several reasons why I don’t want a Kindle. (more…)

Pirates, superheroes, and more

Filed under: Books,General,Technology — Ricky @ 12:20 pm


826 National has published a catalog of the products it sells at the writing centers’ storefronts: Essentially Odd: A Catalog of Products Created For and Sold At the 826 National Stores. It is awesome.

Why health care is so expensive

Filed under: Books,General — Ricky @ 9:32 am

A couple weeks ago I finally got around to reading Atul Gawande’s excellent New Yorker essay on why health care costs vary so wildly throughout the country. His conclusion—that this variance results from whether doctors approach their profession as a business or as a commitment to caring for patients—is so simple that many seem to have a difficult time accepting it. His article and follow-up are must reads for anyone who cares about health care in America.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: The Confirmation Hearing of Sonia Sotomayor, If the Hearing Were Held In Front of the 1977 Kansas City Royals Instead of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 9:26 am

Today’s McSweeney’s piece is especially relevant given that former Yankees and Mets pitcher David Cone will be testifying at Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.

Habitats – For a Writer, a Home With a Hideout –

Filed under: Books,General,Technology — Ricky @ 9:24 am

Today’s New York Times profiles novelist Roxana Robinson. I can’t agree more about the need to have times and spaces where you know you won’t be interrupted.

Ms. Robinson, whose works include an acclaimed biography of the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and most recently the novel “Cost,” realizes that in choosing the unprepossessing small room over the more generously decorated bigger one, she has rejected a space most writers would kill for.

She can explain.

“I did everything but write in that room,” Ms. Robinson said. “I paid bills. I printed things out. I sent faxes. I was connected to the Internet.

“The assumption is that writers can write wherever they can sit down,” she added. “But the main thing you need as a writer is a sense of certainty that you won’t be interrupted.”

Distance from the Internet is part of the issue, but so is having a space that offers minimal distraction. For a writer living in New York, distraction can be the unwelcome flip side of inspiration.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-10

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-03

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • I timed my run last night to arrive at Three Lives & Co. just before 8:30 closing to pick up Bruno Schulz's stories, but they closed early! #
  • How great a song is "Back to the Old House" by the Smiths? Really, really great. #
  • Has anyone used Google Street View to help them write about a place they've never been? #
  • Tired after sitting on the plane for two hours before leaving New York, but back to save the universe. #

Powered by WordPress