The Steve Jobs of the Renaissance: Meet The Man Who Set Books Free

I was on The Takeaway on Monday talking about Renaissance publishing innovator Aldus Manutius and why technophiles like Robin Sloan consider him the Steve Jobs of his era.  Manutius, who died in 1515, is the subject of a 500th anniversary exhibition at the Grolier Club in Manhattan running through the end of April.  The story’s also airing as a feature on WNYC.Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.06.24 PM

Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County

Mark your calendars for September 18th!

I’m thrilled to be hosting an interactive discussion on literature, identity, and geography at the Brooklyn Museum in a special WNYC Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event.

The event is called Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County and it centers around writers past and present who have taken inspiration from the expansive borough.

The evening will feature Evan Hughes, author of Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life), plus three emerging writers whose work focuses on three distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods. Yelena Akhtiorskaya‘s debut novel Panic in a Suitcase is set in the Brighton Beach of her immigrant childhood; Jason Reynolds writes about the pressures of life in Bed-Stuy in his young adult novel When I Was the Greatest; and Mark Chiusano (Marine Park: Stories) examines the far reaches of the borough in his new collection of stories.

See WNYC’s events page for details and tickets. I hope to see you there!

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Hot Reads: Blood Will Out, The Fishing Fleet, Rebel Music

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.30.56 AMA little bit of everything in this week’s all-star line-up– grifters, gold-diggers, and Kool and the Gang. As usual, full reviews at The Daily Beast.  Bonus: Hear Hisham Aidi talking about Rebel Music (and take a listen to some of the music he describes) over at The Takeaway.

How to Create the Perfect Wife

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Thomas Day was wealthy and educated and ran in influential circles. But there was one problem. The 18th-century British philosopher’s lack of interest in polite manners and fashion—and, more important, personal hygiene—made it difficult for him to attract a suitable mate.

Day liked to quote a line from a poem titled “Advice to the Ladies”: “Wit like wine intoxicates the brain/Too strong for feeble women to sustain.”

You can find my full review of Wendy Moore’s utterly creepy and completely factual biography of Day, How to Create the Perfect Wife over at The Daily Beast / Newsweek.    

The Great Agnostic

Reading The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby, I came across this elegant bit of rhetoric from Ingersoll describing his vision for the future:

The popes and priests and kings are gone– the altar and the thrones have mingled with the dust– the aristocracy of land and cloud have perished from the earth and air, and all the gods are dead.  A new religions sheds its glory on mankind.  It is the gospel of this world, the religion of the body, of the heart and brain, the evangel of health and joy.  I see a world at peace, where labor reaps its true reward, a world without prisons, without workhouses, without asylums for the insane, a world where the poor girl, trying to win bread with the needle, the needle that has been called “the asp for the breas of the poor,” is not driven to the desperate choice of crime or death, of suicide or shame.  I see a world without the beggar’s outstretched palm, the miser’s stony stare, the piteous wail of want, the pallid face of crime, the livid lips of lies, the cruel eyes of scorn.  I see a race without disease of flesh or brain, shapely and fair, the married harmony of form and use, and as I look life lengthens, fear dies, joy deepens, love intensifies.  The world is free.  This shall be.

As they say in Sanskrit: “tathastu.”