April 25th & 26th
287 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Abstract Submission Deadline: January 19th
What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of...
Thomas Pynchon brings us to New York in the early days of the internet
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people’s bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we’ve journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
Better Living Through Plastic Explosives is Zsuzsi Gartner’s eagerly anticipated depth charge of deadly satire and trademark dark humour. Whether she takes on evolution and modern manhood, international adoption, real estate, the movie industry, science and faith, art, or terrorism, Gartner fillets the righteous and the ridiculous with dexterity in equal, heartbreaking, and glorious measure. Angels crash land, lovers speak IKEA, a mountain swallows tony West Coast properties, a killer stalks the great motivational speakers of North America. These stories ruthlessly expose our covert fears and fathomless desires and allow us to snort with laughter, while grieving, at the grotesque world we’d live in if we all got what we wanted.
Elena Ferrante, cited by James Wood in The New Yorker
Paul Higgins put together a great list of books and future thinkers, including one book I have just received in the mail, Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman — so go check it out.
James Bridle, “Encoded Experiences”
[Originally published on I Read Where I Am]
(via John Borthwick)
These are dark and stormy times for the mass-market paperback, that squat little book that calls to mind the beach and airport newsstands.
Recession-minded readers who might have picked up a quick novel in the supermarket or drugstore are lately resisting the impulse purchase. Shelf space in bookstores and retail chains has been turned over to more expensive editions, like hardcovers and trade paperbacks, the sleeker, more glamorous cousin to the mass-market paperback. And while mass-market paperbacks have always been prized for their cheapness and disposability, something even more convenient has come along: the e-book.
A comprehensive survey released last month by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group revealed that while the publishing industry had expanded over all, publishers’ mass-market paperback sales had fallen 14 percent since 2008.
via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Bernhard Rieder, via 81,498 Words: the Book as Data Object :: The Unbound Book