Book News Roundup: While you were on holiday break...

  • Over at the South Seattle Emerald, librarian Maggie Block published a spectacular roundup of radical books for young readers. You should read all three parts.

  • Aside from the sad news of Sue Grafton's passing, the biggest book news of last week was the publication of editorial notes for Milo Yiannopoulos's book. An increasingly exhausted editor from Simon & Schuster left a series of increasingly angry notes on a draft of Yiannopoulos's book, and now that whole document has been entered into the public record. (Simon & Schuster dropped the book after several of Yiannopoulos's pro-pedophilia comments came to light; the author is now suing the publisher because he is a massive bore.) The editorial comments are funny and satisfying to read, but you must remember that at the heart of it all, what the editor was trying to do was to make a racist shitbag palatable to as wide an audience as possible. I read the editorial comments as their own separate narrative: that of a man who hired a monster and then slowly realized exactly how monstrous the monster was.

  • Barack Obama released his list of favorite books from 2017 on Facebook, and it's great. I especially love that President Obama agreed with me about Janesville, which is one of the most underappreciated books of the year. Obama also read Evicted, which wowed the Reading Through It Book Club about five months ago.

  • Marvel Comics released an official fanfiction creation service, but the restrictions are so dumb that nobody will ever use the thing.

Marvel Create Your Own reserves the right to revoke access to the service for any content including — to name a few — “Content that could frighten or upset young children or the parents of young children,” “contraceptives,” “bare midriffs,” “noises related to bodily functions,” “misleading language,” “double entendres,” amusement parks other than Disney parks, movie studios not affiliated with Marvel, animated movies not made by Disney or Marvel and depictions of tobacco, nudity, gambling, obscenity and “proxies” for obscenity such as the comic book shorthand of bursts of punctuation instead of curse words.
  • In Canada, the works of Langston Hughes and Dorothy Parker entered the public domain yesterday. In America, we continued our shameful public domain drought. The public domain needs to be continually refreshed with new works, because the creepy Ayn Randian ideal of an artist who makes everything up in her head is a fiction. Without a wellspring of ideas to inspire new artists, the collective creative unconscious will wither and die. Copyright control is creation control.