Articles by Bill Morris

May 17, 2011

Staff Pick: China Mieville’s Embassytown 9

Instead of doing the safe thing and revisiting his imaginary world of Bas-Lag or his reconfigured city of London, Mieville now takes us to his titular “city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.”

May 12, 2011

The Indigenous American Berserk 19

Whenever there are bright lights, clusters of cameras and microphones, spin doctors and handlers, packs of hungry rivals with notebooks, the writer’s chances of getting something genuine, or even merely unique, shrink monstrously.  I experienced this so many times that it is one of the few things I absolutely know to be true.

May 6, 2011

Will Ferrell Channels Raymond Carver — And It Works! 12

The 10th Tribeca Film Festival was a richly musical affair. Nearly lost in this pleasing din were two quiet movies, a feature and a documentary, that grew, respectively, out of a work of literature and the misguided urge to lionize writers.

April 28, 2011

Our Growing Higher Ed Crisis: Making Myths In the Basement of the Ivory Tower 22

Professor X knows first-hand that if you refuse to keep score, if you don’t set standards, if you promote students simply for trying, you will produce mediocrity, or worse. But don’t just take his word for it.

April 26, 2011

Double Take on Double Fold 0

In his 2001 treatise, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Nicholson Baker lamented the wholesale transfer of newspaper archives to microfilm and the subsequent destruction of the originals (A recent essay here at The Millions argued that this is still a big problem). But, according to an article in The Missourian newspaper, microfilm […]

April 11, 2011

Are Run-On Subtitles Literature’s New Flop Sweat? 16

Suddenly, every time I walked into a bookstore or read a review, I started noticing similarly breathless subtitles. What had struck me initially as the odd unfortunate decision now began to look like a full-blown trend.

April 4, 2011

Fact-checking Steinbeck 0

As John Steinbeck’s classic Travels With Charley nears the half-century mark, a writer has retraced the author’s cross-country journey and come to the conclusion that the resulting book was full of inaccuracies and outright fabrications. The journalist Bill Steigerwald, whose article appears in the current issue of the libertarian quarterly Reason, says he didn’t set out to trash the Nobel laureate. […]

April 2, 2011

Billy Joel Gets Cold Feet 1

Could this be the start of a trend? HarperCollins paid the singer Billy Joel $3 million for a memoir back in 2008. Joel wrote The Book of Joel, the publisher edited it, and a June publication date was set. Last week, however, Joel abruptly backed out of the deal and apparently will return the portion […]

March 23, 2011

Is Copyright a Guardian Angel or a Killer of Creativity? A Conversation with Alfred Steiner 5

“In the art world when one artist copies another artist, it only helps the artist being copied.”

March 12, 2011

Is All publicity Good Publicity? 6

Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. […]