Literary Links: A Mysterious Manuscript, the Future of E-Readers, Jacqueline Woodson and Curtis Sittenfeld


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. And since our audience (and we) love books in particular, we thought we would share a regular roundup of some our favorite bookish writing from around the web. This week: several smart articles about the future of the publishing industry, and interviews with Curtis Sittenfeld and Jacqueline Woodson.

The Voynich Manuscript is famously indecipherable — a medieval manuscript using a system of writing no one can figure out. This year, a Spanish publisher will release copies as standalone books, launching thousands of amateur attempts.

A recent study (yet another one) finds that literary fiction readers have more empathy and ability to understand the emotions of other people. To which we readerly types say, duh.

This month Jaqueline Woodson released her first novel for adults in many years, and has been talking about the history of Bushwick, the setting for Another Brooklyn. Here she is reading a poem about the Brooklyn neighborhood:

Woodson also participated in By the Book in The New York Times and Publisher Weekly’s podcast.

In the industry news, PW explores the future of Barnes and Noble, one of the last — if not the last — major booksellers standing, after the departure of its CEO. And John Bradley at the Wild Detectives writes about the future of e-readers, noting that “Technology doesn’t seem poised to stop the printed word, no more than the fire of storytelling could ever truly be snuffed out.” So rather than simply be more portable versions of books, e-readers could have a future as something entirely different, and what that is remains to be seen.

At the Lit Hub, a piece on writing about disabled people by Nicola Griffith:

Never equate physical, psychological, or intellectual impairment with loss of personhood. People are people. Period. Never speak for a disabled person unless you have explicit permission to do so—and then only use direct quotes. Never assume you know what a disabled person thinks, feels, or wants. Empathy is not experience. There is no substitute for listening. Never project your experience—your fear, discomfort, or unhappiness—onto us. Your experience is not ours. We might not be afraid, uncomfortable, or unhappy. Never present your assumptions, projections, or guesses as fact. Never use disability as “narrative prosthesis.” That is, don’t use a crip as a prop, or an impairment as a signifier of or metaphor for anything (especially evil, degeneracy, or corruption). Do not magically eliminate or fix the disabled person for narrative convenience.

Curtis Sittenfeld has a new short story in The New Yorker called “Gender Studies” and an interview in the New York Times about how she handles book reviews five books into her career:

I take criticism less personally, and I recognize that sometimes fate smiles on you and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m aware more than I was before I had books published that any review is a bit arbitrary — it’s not really, say, The New York Times that’s authoritatively weighing in on the quality of a book, though it seems this way to the public. It’s actually one reviewer weighing in (maybe a daily reviewer like you, but maybe a random novelist like me who reviews one or two books a year), and all of us as individuals have quirky, subjective taste.