This week! Books!
George Orwell’s 1984 turned seventy years old this past week, and, well, everyone’s kinda wishing it weren’t quite so prescient. Two insightful reflections on Orwell’s classic dystopian masterpiece caught my eye this week: Louis Menand in The New Yorker and George Packer in The Atlantic.
For me, no one can dispute Orwell’s utterly devastating insight into how language can be twisted by the powerful, but for my money it’s still Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 that best capture the essence our current dystopia.
On the other side of the spectrum, Masha Gessen reflects on the remarkable staying power of Ayn Rand.
My incredibly talented friend Celeste Noche wrote and photographed a beautiful article for NPR on the mobile libraries of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland and their remarkable role in those remote communities. You gotta check out this article.
It’s the end of an era as Tin House is going to cease publication of its quarterly literary magazine, having discovered countless voices over the past 20 years. Fortunately, the book publishing arm will continue.
Book publishers are transitioning their offices to open floor plans like literally every other company and the New York Times is ON IT.
And B.K. Bass wrote a good and detailed writing advice post on some frameworks for constructing a romance in a novel.
This week’s blog posts, in case you missed them:
- The most common mistakes writers make
- How did you choose your novel’s structure?
- How to write a good climax in a novel
- What are your favorite newsletters?
Comment! of! the! week! Goes to John T. Shea. It has come to my attention that Roald Dahl has been Milkshake Ducked:
Many thanks, Nathan, for this great video about a great writer who was not always so great otherwise. Dahl was notoriously anti-Semitic, bullied ordinary workers in publishing, among others, cheated on his wife, evaded tax, and generally seems more like his villains than his protagonists. He wouldn’t have lasted long in today’s Cancel Culture.
And finally, I have a soft spot for the utterly bizarre questions and answers on Quora, and this one did not disappoint: What do you do if you are accidentally swallowed by a whale? You’re welcome.
Have a great weekend!
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JOHN T. SHEA says
Actually, I’m very happy ‘1984’ was NOT so prescient! It made a resounding and timely warning of the horrors of Communism but that system largely (though not entirely) collapsed in 1990. That danger persists to some extent but most people today seem more concerned by other forms of tyranny.
Nor do I believe we live in a dystopia today. Certainly not in the USA, Ireland or any other Western country. We need only contemplate other countries and other times to see that. If our age were in any way dystopian we would not be free to have this open and technically miraculous conversation from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Likewise “Brave New World” and “Fahrenheit 451” though both remain of interest and value.
“1984” was published in 1949, so 75 years makes 2,024! Damn! I’ve taken another five-year nap!
The Scots mobile library article is amazing! Particularly the black and white dog waiting patiently for his books…
A whale? Two of the main characters in my main WIP get swallowed by a five hundred foot long SEA MONSTER! While in a plane. And it’s not an accident. The monster is a huge sea-snake which tries to swallow the plane and its occupants whole. I must confess one of the main reasons I wrote it was to title the chapter as “Plane In A Snake”. I couldn’t resist the temptation…
Another great Comment of the Week! Oh wait…Self-praise is no praise. Anyway, I do hope somebody threw a milkshake at the racist milkshake duck and that the duck didn’t duck in time,
Many thanks for your post, and the great pic of Borobudur, an amazing place!
Nathan Bransford says
Whoops!! Firing my non-existent fact checker. Maybe I need to hire one.
Jaimi Sorrell says
Oh, no, those poor people at Abrams Books. Open office layouts are disastrous for concentration (like when you have to edit or read for instance!). Way too much noise and distraction, and there is always that coworker with the loud voice who never stops talking. Or singing with the headphones on. They have my sympathies.
For a more truthful and less rah-rah take on the impact of open offices, check out this article. 🙁 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/327142
JOHN T. SHEA says
That may help explain some of the strange things corporations do, like simultaneously pestering their customers with ads and other notifications but then studiously ignoring any responses.