Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Around the Word

Here at the BloGG, we've found some unexpected reasons to be thankful for biographies, eReaders, and Patti Smith's ghostly editor:
  • To pen Just Kids, her National Book Award-winning memoir, rockstar-cum-literary-luminary Patti Smith followed two guiding rules: keep it visual, and keep it direct. "No matter what I remember or what I had," she told Jonathan Letham in an interview last spring, "if I couldn't see what I was writing about as a little movie then I took it away." Her prose also had to pass the Mapplethorpe test. Since her late partner, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, was the impetus for the book—"he asked me to write it on his deathbed," she reports—Smith wrote it with his short attention span in mind. "It couldn't be boring or too digressional or he would just be agitated," she told Letham. You can watch the full interview or read an edited transcript here.
  • Biographies can make good beach reading, but they're more than engaging stories—they're also fertile ground for new ideas, says PR coach Susan Young. At Ragan, Young suggests weathering the brainstorming process by observing other people's lives, whether in person or on the page. Reading a biography of someone you respect and admire can teach you new ways to tackle setbacks and offer fresh insights into old problems. And when you're talking with colleagues and clients, advises Young, maintain a biographer's curiosity: ask about details in their lives, and don't dismiss anything as trivial or boring. Have you found any great ideas lurking in biographies?
  • "I think there's going to be something that happens now, where books move in two directions, one toward digitized formats and one toward remembering what's nice about the physicality of them," says noted Vegetarian of Letters Jonathan Safran Foer on the future of print. Foer's latest project, Tree of Codes, which New York magazine calls "the anti-Kindle," falls staunchly into that second category. Building—literally—from Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles, the Brooklyn author teamed up with British publisher Visual Editions to cut up Schulz's text and form "a latticework of words...a new, much shorter story and a paper sculpture." What do you think—will eReaders usher in an era of art books?


Chris Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Williams said...

Let's try for my full comment....interesting how Patti Smith thought of the "mini movie" idea. Having just read the book, I can now see that she did that, and I did find the book very descriptive of each scene.

BTW, she was never married to Robert Mapplethorpe.