Today in books and publishing: India's diplomats have a penchant for poetry; the US and EU stall treaty for blind readers; Cloud Atlas sales get a big trailer bump; F. Scott Fitzgerald meditates on smoking.
India's poet-diplomats. Foreign service requires impersonal duty. Poetry encourages personal expression. The two worlds may seem at odds, but The Times of India has a trend piece that argues for the existence of a genre it calls "diplomatic poetic literature." Indian diplomats turn to creative writing for an escape from their stressful positions. India's new ambassador to Argentina, Amarendra Khatua, just published a new collection of poetry, Love Abracadabra, and Nirupama Rao, ambassador to the US, says that writing poetry is her way of "coming up for oxygen." The Times also cites Vikas Swarup, Navtej Sarna and Navdeep Suri as examples of diplomats who write poetry off the clock. [Times of India]
New F. Scott Fitzgerald story about spirituality and smoking. Seventy-five years after rejecting it, The New Yorker has decided to publish a story it once deemed "too fantastic." Indeed, a story about a woman who ducks into a Catholic church for a smoke does seem a bit fanciful coming from The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Upon rejecting "Thank You for the Light" in 1936, The New Yorker circulated an internal memo that reads, "It seems to us so curious and so unlike the kind of thing we associate with him." [The New Yorker]
Books and bikinis. Apparently there's a whole Tumblr dedicated to matching swimsuit patterns and book jacket designs. Some of the examples, like the Slaughterhouse Five two-piece shown below, are uncanny. For all you bookworm fashionistas who want to coordinate your beach-wear and reading material, check out the site's impeccable pairings. [Matchbook.nu]
Treaty for blind readers stalled. The United States and the European Union aren't cooperating with the World Intellectual Property Organisation's effort to ratify a treaty on reading material for the blind, reports The Guardian. Since 2008, WIPO has been discussing policies which would provide the world's visually impaired with easier access to published works. The problem lies with copyright law, which makes it hard for blind people in developing nations to access braille, audio books or large-print titles without the express permission of copyright holders. Dan Pescod of the Royal National Institute of Blind People says, "The Spanish organisation Once has well over 100,000 [translated] books that they would like to send to Latin American countries, but they can't simply because of this copyright barrier." Critics say that the US and EU are holding up negotiations due to the influence of big publishing companies, which remain hesitant about any international agreement that restricts intellectual property rights. [The Guardian]
After trailer leak, Cloud Atlas sales soar. Anyone who doubts the influence social media exerts on book sales, consider this: Last Monday, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas was the 2,509th most popular book on Amazon. By Friday, it was sitting pretty at No. 7 on the best sellers list. The reason for that astronomical spike? On Thursday, the trailer for the new Cloud Atlas film starring Tom Hanks leaked online. The buzz on social media was deafening. "Almost as soon as the trailer went up, we saw chatter on Twitter and sales on Amazon really jumped," says Jane von Mehren, who oversees trade paperbacks at Random House. The publisher plans to print 25,000 new movie-tie-in copies of Cloud Atlas in anticipation of the film's release. [The Wall Street Journal]
It is definitely not OK to read Fifty Shades while visiting your bedridden father in a hospital. "Fifty shades of gross!" says Robin Abrahams. [The Boston Globe]
Libraries give a great return on investment. A University of Toledo economist finds that for every dollar put into libraries, $2.86 in community benefits comes out. [The Toledo Blade]
Walking through The Waste Land. A stroll through T.S. Eliot's London. [The Guardian]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.