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Gabriel Garcia Marquez: An Appreciation

Books • Views: 11,285

One of the world’s great writers passed away this week and no one seems to have created a Page here in tribute to him, so I will use this Easter Sunday to rectify that.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Born: March 6, 1927 in Aracataca, Colombia
Died: April 17, 2014 (aged 87) in Mexico City, Mexico

R.I.P.—your writing filled my life, and most assuredly countless others, with many hours of escape & pleasure. That’s not an insignificant gift. Thank you.

Getty Image

At the beginning of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Macondo’s patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, wants to move the idyllic yet isolated community he founded to another, more accessible location. And, since no one else wants to go with him, he decides that he and his wife, Úrsula, and their son should leave by themselves.

“We will not leave,” his wife says, reminding him that Macondo was their son’s birthplace.

“We have still not had a death,” he tells her. “A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.” To which his wife replies, “If I have to die for the rest of you to stay here, I will die.”

This was the first thing that came to mind when I heard that Gabriel García Márquez had died. I have always loved that scene. For anyone who’s been forced, or has chosen, to start a new life in a new place, these words seem to provide at least two possible markers by which one can begin to belong. By Úrsula’s definition, it is through life. By her husband’s, it is through death. […]

More: Gabriel Garcia Marquez: An Appreciation

Video

Video

Note: The English subtitles in the video above leave a lot to be desired.

UPDATE: The perfect tweet following the announcement of his death.

Related:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Suffering From Dementia’, Says Brother

If You Think You’re Anonymous Online, Think Again

All Tech Considered : NPR
Books • Views: 15,178

MP3 Audio

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. “It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month … and I was amazed at how revealing they were,” she tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

From NSA sweeps to commercial services scraping our Web browsing habits, to all kinds of people tracking us through our smartphones, Angwin says we’ve become a society where indiscriminate data-gathering has become the norm. Angwin has covered online privacy issues for years, and in her new book she describes what she did to try to escape the clutches of data scrapers, even to the point of creating a fake identity.

“I want all the benefits of the information society; all I was trying to do is mitigate some of the risk,” she says.

More: If You Think You’re Anonymous Online, Think Again : All Tech Considered : NPR

Outrage After Fox News Interview With ‘Zealot’ Author

Blatant Fox News bigotry
Books • Views: 20,039

YouTube

Charges of anti-Muslim prejudice flew thick and fast following Fox News anchor Lauren Green’s interview with Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and the author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth in which she repeatedly asked Aslan why, as a Muslim, he is interested in writing about Jesus’ life.

Aslan emphasized that he is a historian, answering, “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”

Green, host of the online show Spirited Debate, went on to suggest Aslan hadn’t disclosed his Muslim identity during previous media interviews. Aslan countered that he mentions his faith on the second page of the book.

A post at Buzzfeed asked “Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?” and The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum called it “demented.” The Twitter hashtag #foxnewslitcrit was spawned, full of mock interview questions such as, “Ms. Rowling, what gives you, a muggle, the right to write a book about wizards?”

But as The Atlantic Wire’s Connor Simpson notes, all of this could be good for Aslan: Zealot rose to the top spot on Amazon following the interview. (You can also hear Aslan speak to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross and Weekend Edition’s Rachel Martin about Zealot.)

More: Book News: Outrage After Fox News Interview With ‘Zealot’ Author : The Two-Way : NPR

The Unexpurgated Autobiography of Mark Twain

Books • Views: 1,636

Here’s a new book I’m very much looking forward to reading, reviewed by Larry Rohter in the New York Times Books section: Mark Twain’s Unexpurgated Autobiography.

Twain’s autobiography has been previously published, but only after meddlesome editors removed some passages, ostensibly to protect Twain’s reputation.

Versions of the autobiography have been published before, in 1924, 1940 and 1959. But the original editor, Albert Bigelow Paine, was a stickler for propriety, cutting entire sections he thought offensive; his successors imposed a chronological cradle-to-grave narrative that Twain had specifically rejected, altered his distinctive punctuation, struck additional material they considered uninteresting and generally bowed to the desire of Twain’s daughter Clara, who died in 1962, to protect her father’s image.

“Paine was a Victorian editor,” said Robert Hirst, curator and general editor of the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, where Twain’s papers are housed. “He has an exaggerated sense of how dangerous some of Twain’s statements are going to be, which can extend to anything: politics, sexuality, the Bible, anything that’s just a little too radical. This goes on for a good long time, a protective attitude that is very harmful.”

Twain was especially harsh in his criticism of American involvement in Cuba and the Philippines.

Twain’s opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.

In a passage removed by Paine, Twain excoriates “the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish War” and Gen. Leonard Wood’s “mephitic record” as governor general in Havana. In writing about an attack on a tribal group in the Philippines, Twain refers to American troops as “our uniformed assassins” and describes their killing of “six hundred helpless and weaponless savages” as “a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory.”

Oh, the right wing blogosphere would have a field day with Mark Twain today; imagine the rants from Jim Hoft and Ed Morrissey and Andrew Breitbart, and the death threats at Free Republic! I wish Pamela Geller would review the book, but right now she’s too busy writing mash notes to genocidal Serbian war criminals.

UPDATE at 7/11/10 1:48:36 pm:

Here’s a PBS News Hour segment on the new version of Twain’s autobiography.

Youtube Video

(Hat tip: Slumbering Behemoth.)

Book of the Week: Wingnuts

Books • Views: 1,076

John Avlon, senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani, has a new book out called Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America — a subject near to my heart, especially recently. (And somewhere in there you’ll even find a paragraph featuring a quote from your humble narrator, i.e., me.)

One of the central themes of the book:

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I’m an American. I believe the far left and far right are equally insane. But in the opening years of the Obama administration, the Wingnuts on the right have been screaming the loudest.

Kindle Amazon’s #1 Gift for Christmas

Books • Views: 1,774

Amazon has announced that during this Christmas season, the Kindle e-book reader was the “most gifted item” in the company’s history — and on Christmas Day, the sales of Kindle e-books were actually higher than traditional books. This is quite a milestone, and signals that consumer acceptance of the Kindle and e-books in general is picking up speed.

I absolutely love my Kindle 2, as I’ve written several times, and highly recommend it to anyone who’s hooked on reading. Here’s my review of the Kindle 2, for more details.

What’s on My Kindle?

Books • Views: 1,259

Some recommended books I’m currently reading (or have just finished) on my Kindle, with one-line reviews:

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Amazon CEO Apologizes for Orwell Deletions

Books • Views: 615

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has personally apologized for their misguided deletion of two George Orwell novels from customers’ Kindles: An Apology from Amazon - kindle Discussion Forum.

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO
amazon.com

Now that is a genuine apology.

Big Brother Amazon? Not Really

Books • Views: 700

You probably heard the reports that Amazon had unceremoniously deleted Kindle versions of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 from customers’ devices. But it turns out there’s a little more to the story: the company who sold the books through the Kindle store did not have the rights to publish them.

Late last week, most of the mainstream and tech press seized upon a story that Amazon had zapped copies of Orwell’s most famous novels from its Kindle store and from Kindles themselves everywhere, sending most folks into a tizzy over Amazon taking control over its Kindle content in, well, a 1984 kind of way.

But as a number of observers, including CNET News’ Peter Glaskowsky, pointed out, the reason Amazon yanked the books, or at least made them unavailable for purchase, is that 1984 in particular is, although in the public domain in countries such as Canada and Australia, still under copyright in the United States. Amazon addressed the situation late Friday, telling The New York Times via a spokesman that the Orwell books had been added to the Kindle store by a company, MobileReference, that didn’t have the rights to publish them.

“When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” said Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener to the Times.

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 Frank says:

Reporter:
This is a personal thing, I think that if you wanted to make top ten hits and sell millions of records, you could.

Frank Zappa:
Yeah, but who wants to go through life with a tiny nose and one glove on?