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George Saunders, a former MacArthur Fellow, talks to Jeffrey Brown about his latest collection of stories, "Tenth of December," and his unique voice and approach to capturing contemporary American culture in a compressed, short form.
Books by Saunders:
Meet dot dot dot, an organizational app for all your digital reading
Instant: The Story of Polaroid
In the ballad, told countless times over more than a century, the railroad worker John Henry wins a race against a new steam-powered drill, but the victory is Pyrrhic: he collapses, saying “Give me a cool drink of water before I die.” “Did he win? Did he lose?,” wonders novelist Colson Whitehead. “By the '60s,” remarks Scott Nelson, a professor of history who wrote Steel Drivin’ Man, “John Henry is looked down on, as being an Uncle Tom character. ... The black man who’s always willing to do what the white man wants. There’s a division between brain and brawn.”
Whether or not the story has historical roots — it’s uncertain — his race has come to represent the heroic struggle of men and women to maintain the dignity of their labor against encroaching technology. A chess grandmaster going to battle against Big Blue is compared to John Henry, and The Onion headline reads, “Modern-Day John Henry Dies Trying to Out-Spreadsheet Excel 11.0.”
But it wasn't always so. Studio 360's David Krasnow traces the ballad back to its origins as a cautionary tale, and finds the answer song: a blues about a railroad worker who wants no part of martyrdom. “John Henry was a steel-driving man. He went down,” the song goes. “Take this hammer and carry it to the captain. Tell him I’m gone.”
Listen to full radio piece stream or download MP3 here:
Book Calendar 2013
Now that January is done you can see all the books that were selected for January at once.
The current day can be seen here.
The author of this book also wrote a book on a completely different topic: Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation
De Arbeiderspers/A W Bruna, the largest publisher in the Netherlands, has removed DRM from its e-books for the first time.
Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight
January 14 selection for the Book Calendar: Digital Apollo
Jan 11 Book Calendar - Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History
January 7 book for the book calendar - Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing
If you look at the calendar in flip card mode you can browse over all the titles selected so far.
Book that looks at technologies that have gone extinct.
Coke can ring pulls, telephone boxes, VHS, cassette tapes, village post offices, the test card, hand-written letters, classic TV ads of yesteryear -- all of these and many, many more are bid a fond farewell in this affectionate, but slightly irreverent tribute.
Book Calendar selection for January 4 - Listen to Great Music
January 3 Book Calendar entry -The Universal Sense
The Book Calendar has posted the January 1 entry.
Site that features a new book everyday - Book Calendar 2013
NYT has a list of a 100 notable books for 2012. You can see all the books here.
The Japanese have stumbled upon an extraordinary way to do mental arithmetic very, very fast: Become proficient with an abacus, then discard it and do your calculations using a mental image of one. The results are mind-boggling
British Airways Boeing 747-400 in D-Check