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I just finished reading a wonderful “memoir” about the writer’s life. I say that in quotes because the book is not a typical memoir but rather a collection of essays written by the author and pubished as a column in The Times Supplement. The book is called

Beg, Borrow, Steal

I just finished reading a wonderful “memoir” about the writer’s life. I say that in quotes because the book is not a typical memoir but rather a collection of essays written by the author and pubished as a column in The Times Supplement. The book is called “Beg, Borrow, Steal: the Writer’s Life,” written by Michael Greenberg. In wonderful bite-sized pieces, Greenberg, who never went to college or formally studied literature or journalism, chronicles his journey through heartache and setbacks to become a writer. He’s a very good writer and I highly recommend it.

Here are some comments from another review, written by Adam Kirsch in Tablet: “Greenberg undoubtedly belongs in a book by Saul Bellow. “As I saw it, the real sacrifice was on the part of those who had to toe the line and forswear a free-style existence,” Greenberg writes of his adolescent self, cleverly alluding both to the title of his column and to that famous freelance, Augie March: “’First to knock, first admitted,’ in Saul Bellow’s words. ‘Sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.’” Following this creed, Greenberg never went to college, choosing instead to run away from home as a teenager, then prowl New York and the world in search of the writer’s elixir, experience. Yet in Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life—the terrific new collection of Greenberg’s “Freelance” columns, just published by Other Press—he is mainly concerned to show the downside of experience. The book is a chronicle, not of failure exactly, but of constant struggle—against the slipperiness of the writer’s vocation, against the psychological burdens of family and Jewishness, but most straightforwardly, as the title suggests, the struggle just to earn a living.”

Posted by Joel on October 24 2009 • Books

Does the Brain Like E-Books?

That’s the question posed by this post at the New York Times. How does the new technology change the act of reading? From the New York Times:

"Writing and reading — from newspapers to novels, academic reports to gossip magazines — are migrating ever faster to digital screens, like laptops, Kindles and cellphones. Traditional book publishers are putting out “vooks,” which place videos in electronic text that can be read online or on an iPhone. Others are republishing old books in electronic form. And libraries, responding to demand, are offering more e-books for download. Is there a difference in the way the brain takes in or absorbs information when it is presented electronically versus on paper? Does the reading experience change, from retention to comprehension, depending on the medium?”

A panel of experts weighs in on the issue:

Alan Liu, English professor
Sandra Aamodt, author, “Welcome to Your Brain”
Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development
David Gelernter, computer scientist
Gloria Mark, professor of informatics

Posted by Joel on October 18 2009 • Multimedia

Bookstore of the Future

I have posted about this new technology before, but it seems like it is now ready for retail. The Espresso Insta-Book machine has made its debut in Boston. The machine is able to produce a copy of any book, on site, in a library quality paperback format. The process only takes four minutes. Noted author E.L. Doctorow will be on hand for the unveiling at the Harvard Bookstore. From the LA Times:

The first book to roll of the press, so to speak, is a copy of “Facsimile of First Edition of The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre,” which happens to be the first every book that was printed in the American colonies, in Cambridge in 1640. I think that’s a nice touch.

Posted by Joel on October 04 2009 • Books