by Shoaib Alam, Colorado Review Associate Editor
Literature is coming to the streets (again), and it’s disguised as coffee sleeves, fast food, and tanks. The Atlantic explores the guerilla-marketing techniques being deployed to promote reading worldwide in this article. The city of Grenoble, France, leads the pack with machines that vend stories according to reading time—one-minute, three-minutes and five-minutes. The Internet approves.
The machines are the brainchildren of Short Edition, a French publishing startup. The New Yorker says an “influential Hollywood director” is interested in bringing the machines to America (and possibly installing them in Starbucks). While we wait, human-children in this country will have the freedom to choose books instead of toys with their Happy Meals from February 9-15 as part of McDonalds’s Happy Meal Books drive.
Librarians, however, need not worry about losing Internet-fame to robots and fast food chains. Celebrated science fiction writer Octavia Butler’s personal mission statement—“This is my life. I write best-selling novels”—went viral when the Huntington Library in California posted a picture of her commonplace book on its blog. The Butler archive is listed as one of the most frequently used at the Huntington, cementing both Butler’s literary relevance and the value of libraries to Twitter users; the Huntington and its partners will be celebrating Butler’s distinguished career throughout the year.
Also found in archives: a previously unpublished Beatrix Potter story—“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.” Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House, discovered this story in 2013, in Victoria and Albert Museum’s Potter archive in London. The main character of this new story is “a well-behaved black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life, and goes out hunting with a little gun on moonlight nights, dressed up like puss in boots.” The story will be published soon to celebrate the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Potter’s birth.
Infinite Jest entered its twentieth year of existence, and Tom Bissell has four theories about why it survived two decades when so many glitteringly reviewed novels don’t. A glimpse of his foreword to the upcoming twentieth-anniversary edition appears in the New York Times. In the same publication, A. O. Scott, a film critic, argues in favor of a nation of critics because being able to critically evaluate means “we are each capable of thinking against our own prejudices, of balancing skepticism with open-mindedness, of sharpening our dulled and glutted senses.”
At Colorado Review, we are critically reading for the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. Winner receives $2,000 honorarium, and the story is published in the Fall/Winter issue of the magazine. More information here. Editors and judges are also reading for the Mountain West Poetry Series and the Colorado Prize for Poetry—Katie Naughton has a preview of things to come from the Center of Literary Publishing, including House of Sugar, House of Stone by Emily Pérez and &luckier by Christopher J. Johnson, to be released in March and November, respectively.
In other news, CL Young has a poem in the PEN Poetry Series titled “Beauty Ditch.” Our Poetry Reviews Editor, Dan Beachy-Quick, has two recommendations to offer—Brian Teare’s The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven and Matvei Yankelevich’s Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt. Our latest January podcast features Kylan Rice, Stephanie G’Schwind and Dean Sangalis. They read and discuss “The Wisdom of Sons” by Thomas White from the Spring 2009 issue. And if you are in Austin, Texas, anytime soon you can take a ten-percent discount at Brave New Books by legally carrying a gun. Happy readings!