Critical Linking: The Most Read Stories, June 4 – 9, 2012

Here are the most-read stories from the last week in Critical Linking…


If you were attacked by pirates, who would you want by your side? A loyal horde of head bangers, gangstas and hard-core punks? Or a brainy clutch of bookish types? I’d generally advise you to go with the former group. But it turns out that in the swashbuckling arena of digital piracy, the publishing world is acquitting itself far better than the brash music industry.

It is not often that publishing is given credit for learning from the mistakes of other industries.  There is probably a good reason for that.


Is there an iconic literary place we should know?

The aforementioned City Lights is the most obvious answer to this question. Anyone with any literary interests who goes to San Francisco should visit it at least once, and then get a drink across Columbus Avenue at Tosca. The house coffee (hot chocolate, steamed milk and brandy) is great on a cold day. A newer bookstore/gallery that is really interesting is Press: Works on Paper, in the Mission District, you can find some really exciting books and book-related items there.

I really wish that someone would collect advice like this from Matthew Zapruder and make a literary travel guide for cities all throughout the country.


What do the fans want? A printed book that lets them shut off their computer screens and relax. You know, that lovely non-electronic device we used for the release of all seven Harry Potter books. The last thing we want is to be forced to discover new material via a television screen and $300+ worth of equipment. We spend enough time looking at our computer screens every day. We don’t want to continue our magical journey, originally travelled via book, with Sony.

While I’m not sure that he speaks for all Potter fans, I agree 110%.


I don’t think there’s any question that novels are no longer at the center of our political or cultural conversation. Politics belongs to the Internet, and culture is all cable TV. But this is something to celebrate! It means those other media are growing up; they’re getting serious. And it doesn’t mean the novel is in decline, or that novels are any less political or cultural. In fact, I think this new competition — especially the Internet — helps us see exactly what’s most remarkable about the novel: it works on a different timescale.

I am pleasantly surprised by the debate going on at the New York Times about the changing state of fiction. There are some very interesting points being made.


I do have meat at heart.

Gwyneth Paltrow, in a review of a book of poetry. And no, I am not having a stroke. This is real.

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