Literature is going corporate. No, I’m not talking about sellouts, more like partners with a mission. From Chipotle working with Jonathan Safran Foer and many other famous writers putting meaningful words on their cups and bags, to Hubspot providing its employees unlimited books, business leaders are showing their love affair with fiction.
Speaking of love affairs…Binghamton University in the state of New York will be introducing a course in erotic literature. Gayle Whittier, associate professor of English at the university, initiated the course and will teach students beginning in the fall of 2016. She says, “I think that looking at literature that deals with sexuality and the erotic is one way to return to the reality of the body, which is something in our culture that has become increasingly distant to us.”
Yes! Spiegel and Grau, an imprint of Random House, will be publishing a memoir from Prince in the fall of 2017. Tentatively titled The Beautiful Ones, the musical legend will be sharing an “unconventional and poetic journey through his life and creative work.” I’ve been a fan since I was a teen, and played his album, 1999, constantly until I left it in the back of my best friend’s Chevrolet Chevette and it warped in the Florida sunshine. A sad, sad day.
New York based art director and artist, Shaheryar Malik, is leaving books all over New York City. Stacks and stacks of them. From subway stations to city parks and in the middle of sidewalks, Malik leaves the piles of books with bookmarks with his email printed on them requesting connection after they finish the book. They have already made their way to 30 different countries. Now that’s what I call spreading the love of literature.
In Central Java, Indonesia, Ridwan Sururi and his white mare Luna bring books every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to the children of Serang and surrounding villages. Starting with only 136 books, his inventory has now reached the thousands due to the word of his good works spreading around local and international media. What a great story. Click to see some incredible photos of his travels, and the children whose lives he has touched.
The writing app Ulysses, graduating from desktop to iPad, and now iPhone, is a powerful tool for writers on the go. A management system with features such as a keyboard extension, customization capabilities, multiple ways to share your writing, and color-coded formatting, Ulysses Mobile is highly rated on the app store. Write on.
In India, Urdu writers are being required to sign a form that their books or articles do not contain content that is “against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation.” Specifically, this form is for writers whose books are being distributed by the National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which works directly under the HRD Ministry—the human resource division of the Indian government.
They’re trying to do just that. Through their Natural Language Understanding unit, Google is trying to teach its artificial intelligence to predict sentences of authors, such as Shakespeare and Mark Twain, by pouring millions of lines into networks. Facebook is getting into the game as well with children’s books. Gosh, I didn’t even know Google had a Natural Language Understanding division. I think I’m about ready to call Scully and Mulder.
Literature is literally jumping off the page at SXSW this week. Sony has a prototype of an “Interactive Tabletop” that captures animations from a book and then projects them onto a working surface. They used Lewis Carroll’s Alice, who is liberated from the book onto the flat surface where she can be moved around on a touch screen. The tech industry is getting closer to bringing holograms to the classroom — a very exciting adventure indeed.
Laurel Dowswell is the Features Editor at Change Seven. Her short story “I Am theEggman” was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She was a copy editor for an independent feminist newspaper in Santa Fe, NM, after being raised and educated in Florida. She lives and writes in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta with her son. She is currently working on a novel filled with oil paintings, family drama, and the spectrum of sexuality. Follow her on twitter @laurels_idea.