Critical Linking: June 22, 2012

Newspapers, journalists, novelists, Italian sea captains, let’s all get in that lifeboat together and row our way to whatever new world will have us.

Travel agents can jump aboard as well.


Last year as French publishers watched in horror as e-books ate away at the printed book market in the United States, they successfully lobbied the government to fix prices for e-books too. Now publishers themselves decide the price of e-books; any other discounting is forbidden. There are also government-financed institutions that offer grants and interest-free loans to would-be bookstore owners.

Not sure you can say the book market in France is “doing just fine” if it requires government subsidies and price-fixing. That’s like saying someone with a breathing tube and feeding tube is “pretty much OK.”


The question is: what is it that allows a writer to write almost unconsciously and to “know” when something in a work of fiction is “wrong” (when theoretically everything is possible)? In order to explain this, it is necessary to think hard about the mental-bodily processes at work in creative work of all kinds.

That’s what makes art hard, I guess.


But two-faced Twitter has also brought about, in its opposite aspect, the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.

Like any new form, most of it will be terrible, but some of it sublime.

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In 1975, Truman Capote published a short story that ended his literary career. Listen to Annotated on Apple Podcasts or Google Play to hear how.