Reader's Notes - Penguin-Random House Merger

In the past decade, much has been written about the demise of books, of reading, and of literacy  -- a cultural erosion fueled by the growth of digital media and a variety of personal electronic devices.  From my point of view as an educator going back to the days just before The Great Digitization, matters are not so alarming.  I have always been bemused about the hand-wringing over the decline of writing and reading.  My purely subjective experience tells me that, on the whole, young people write more and read more than they ever did, albeit in different ways than in the old exclusively print culture.

The merger between mega-publishers Penguin and Random House is an interesting development in that it should create a $4 billion-a-year company able to compete with Amazon -- at least in the reading business.  We should stop calling it the "book business," perhaps.  What the new Penguin-Random super-publisher will have that Amazon does not is the cultural capital of its people -- the editors, designers, and publishers who bring out thousands of titles each year.  If Amazon is open to the raw forces of the market as far as popularity is concerned, then Penguin-Random House might counterbalance the popularity-engine of Amazon with its own thoughtful, culturally informed perspective.

The global scale of both enterprises is unsettling, but consider that, for writers outside the super-publishers and super-retailers, The Great Digitization has opened up many venues for self-publication and self-promotion.  If anything, the alarm over "declining literacy" and "the death of books" is more likely driven by the fact that there's so much more information available through so many more channels than every before. Similar things have been said about film and music.  If anything, what's needed more than ever are experts who surf the waves of information for the good stuff -- and the search and selection tools to find it for ourselves.

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Reader's Notes: Novel of the Century

Here's a sure conversation-starter among readers: the six books on the shortlist for the "Novel of the Century."  The University of Edinburgh, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the study of English Literature at that institution, will award the James Tait Black Prize for the "best of the best" English language books of the past 100 years.  A fair article about the award can be found at The Independent's website, but if you want to see the list, it's as follows:

Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
The Heart Of The Matter by Graham Greene
 A Disaffection by James Kelman
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Crossing The River by Caryl Phillips
The Mandlebaum Gate by Muriel Spark

Have read them all -- and, in my civilian job, having taught two of them --it would be unfair to say which is the definitive best, but I know I have my favorite.  I don't suppose my personal choice would be too obvious?

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PN Unscripted - Seth

Seth, the Canadian comics artist, writer, designer and 'archaeologist of ephemera' talks about The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists, as well as editing the work of Charles Schultz and Doug Wright.

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Sunday Time Warp - Playlist 10/21/12

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Song, Artist, Album

Freedom Jazz Dance, Miroslav Vitous, Infinite Search
Bird of Fire, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bird of Fire
Sophisticated Honky, Orgone, The Killion Floor
Boom Boom (Out Goes The Lights), Little Walter
I Love You More Than Ever, Blood Sweat and Tears, The Collection
Song For Bobby Smith, Gil Scott-Heron, Winter in America
Never No Mo' Blues, Jimmie Rodgers, Never No Mo' Blues
Dirty Muther Fer Ya, Honeydripper's Duke's Mixture, Roosevelt Sykes
Mule Skinner Blues, (Blue Yodel No. 7), Jimmie Rodgers, The Very Best Of
Me And My Chauffer Blues, Memphis Minnie, Blues Classics
New Blues Old Bruise, Chick Corea & John McLaughlin, Five Peace Band: Live
Who They Want Me To Be, Christian Scott, Christian aTunde Adjuah
Of Fire (Les Filles de la Nouvelle Orleans), Christian Scott, Christian aTunde Adjuah
The Last Broken Heart (Prop 8), Christian Scott, Yesterday You Said Today
New New Orleans (Kind Adjuah Stomp), Christian Scott, Christian aTunde Adjuah
Teddy Ruxpin, Kneebody, You Can Have Your Moment
Mob Job, Pat Metheny & Ornette Coleman, Song X (20th Anniversary Edition)
Old School Cylons, Greyboy All Stars, Whatever Happened To Television?
Summertime Killer, Calibro 35, Calibro 35
Locomotive, Mop Mop, Kiss of Kali
54-46 Was My Number, Toots and the Maytalls, In The Dark
Drive My Car, Soulive, Rubber Soulive
Tilt, Cadillac Jones, Junk in the Trunk

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Segment3 - Christian Scott

Talk and tunes with the prodigious trumpeter, composer, and bandleader -- mostly about his latest release, Christian aTunde Adjuah.

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