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opinionated commentary on literary matters - from the complete review

The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 September 2023

1 September: Michal Ajvaz Q & A | Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize longlist | Social media presence
2 September: (American) National Translation Awards longlists | Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Q & A
3 September: JCB Prize longlist | Richa Bhattarai Q & A | Persuader review
4 September: Translation in ... India | Kids (not ?) reading in the UK | Charco Press profile
5 September: Premio FIL | Edith Grossman (1936-2023) | Wolfson History Prize shortlist | The Fox From Up Above and the Fox From Down Below review
6 September: Europese Literatuurprijs | Prix Goncourt longlist | Österreichischer Buchpreis longlist | Elif Batuman on ChatGPT
7 September: Longlists: Baillie Gifford Prize - Scotiabank Giller Prize | Tractatus Prize | The Gasp review
8 September: Prix Renaudot longlist | Bayerischer Buchpreis finalists | Blurbs ! | My Arno Schmidt-book
9 September: More French longlists | Bangalore BizLitFest
10 September: Simon & Schuster deal analysis | Yu Hua profile | Alo Shome Q & A

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10 September 2023 - Sunday

Simon & Schuster deal analysis | Yu Hua profile | Alo Shome Q & A

       Simon & Schuster deal analysis

       As widely noted, American publisher Simon & Schuster was recently acquired by KKR, "a leading global investment firm that offers alternative asset management", and in The Atlantic Carter Dougherty and Andrew Park look at the deal -- and the $1 billion in debt that goes with it --, in Book Publishing Has a Toys ‘R’ Us Problem. (As readers may recall, a similar type deal did not work out so well for Toys ‘R’ Us.)
       A publishing house like Simon & Schuster sure looks like an unlikely candidate to benefit much from suddenly being so debt-laden, and I just can't see any way they can squeeze so much more money out of it to justify such a debt-burden. But what do I know ? (Hey, I hear someone paid $44 billion for Twitter -- a once nice little business with a decent revenue stream that could never, by any reasonable business-math, justify anywhere near that valuation.)
       It's hard to imagine a happy ending here -- for readers, authors, and the poor employees at Simon & Schuster --, though I can see the KKR folk laughing all the way to the bank .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Yu Hua profile

       In The Korea Times Pyo Kyung-min profiles the author, in Chinese author Yu Hua marks 40th anniversary of literary debut.
       Interesting to hear that:
The author also hinted at his future endeavors, saying, "I am currently crafting a short comedy, which is a departure from the lengthy and somber novels I've previously penned."

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Alo Shome Q & A

       In the most recent instalment of their 'Meet the Translator'-series at Veeksha Vagmita has: 'An interview with translator Alo Shome about her newly published translation of Nirupama Devi's 1915 Bengali novel Didi', in ‘Translating women writers enables their cultural positions to be represented’: Alo Shome.
       A bit disappointing, however, to hear that:
My manuscript was too long for today’s readers. So, my publishers advised me to shorten it. I mainly deleted large portions from two chapters. The passages I removed would have been of little interest to contemporary readers.
       See also the Rupa publicity page for Didi.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

9 September 2023 - Saturday

More French longlists | Bangalore BizLitFest

       More French longlists

       'Tis the season, and so the French longlists keep coming -- now that of the prix Flore (see the Livres Hebdo report) -- with Neige Sinno's Triste tigre, which has already won the prix littéraire « Le Monde » and has been longlisted for the prix Goncourt, among the contenders -- as well as that of the prix Jean Giono (see the Livres Hebdo report), which includes books by Serge Joncour and Akira Mizubayashi.

       These prizes are also noteworthy because they have web-presences -- a rarity among French literary prizes -- and yet I still point you to the Livres Hebdo reports.
       Why ?
       The Prix de Flore site is still stuck in 2022.
       And the Centre Jean Giono site has a nice Prix Giono page, but there's nothing new there either, nor any press release elsewhere on the site.
       Seriously: how hard is this ? (And why are the French so spectacularly bad at this ? I assume part of it is that since no one else can be bothered, no prize feels any pressure to actually have a decent web presence. As is, the Académies -- française and Goncourt -- lead the way -- with the laziest-ass press releases/mentions of prize-announcements .....)
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Bangalore BizLitFest

       If you're in Bangalore today you can go check out the Bangalore Business Literature Festival.
       In South First Fathima Ashraf previews it, reporting how This business lit fest fosters a culture of reading, writing, and publishing business literature.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

8 September 2023 - Friday

Prix Renaudot longlist | Bayerischer Buchpreis finalists
Blurbs ! | My Arno Schmidt-book

       Prix Renaudot longlist

       They've announced the longlists for this year's prix Renaudot, the next-in-line prize after the Goncourt; see, for example, the Livres Hebdo report.
       The fiction list includes three titles that are also Goncourt-longlisted; there is also a novel by Fred Vargas.
       There is also an 'essai' (non-fiction) category -- with books by Nathacha Appanah, Agnès Desarthe, and Négar Djavadi -- but people don't pay quite that much attention to that one.
       Like the Goncourt, this is a four-round prize, so we will have shorter-lists announcements on 5 and 26 October before the winner is announced on 7 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Bayerischer Buchpreis finalists

       The Bavarian Book Prize has announced its finalists -- three each in the fiction and non categories.
       The most impressive showing is Teresa Präauer's Kochen im falschen Jahrhundert, which is going for the German-language-national/regional-prize triple, having also made the longlists of both the German and the Austrian Book Prizes; see also the Wallstein foreign rights page. But the book I'm most interested in is Jan Philipp Reemtsma's Christoph Martin Wieland-biography.
       This is a fun prize because the jurors will discuss the finalists in front of a live audience on 7 November, their final deliberations made publicly. (I suspect they probably talk this out a bit beforehand, but still.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Blurbs !

       In Esquire Sophie Vershbow digs, quite deep, into: 'A Plague on the Industry': Book Publishing's Broken Blurb System.
Blurbs expose this ecosystem for what it really is: a nepotism-filled system that everyone endures for a chance of “making it” in an impossible industry for most.
“Blurbs aren't about the blurb; they're about opening the value exchange,” explained Jonathan Jacobs, a marketing strategist who has worked with several bestselling authors. “You blurb my book, I blurb yours. We do a Live together. We hit our email lists. It opens up the opportunity to continuously tap into someone else's audience.”
       'Opening the value exchange' .... shoot me now.
       (For what it's worth: I read the blurbs -- critically, I like to think -- and, yes, they play some role in the larger package, of whether or not I'll take a closer look at a book. And, yes, I've been suckered more often than not -- predictively, I suspect they're about as reliable as if I let myself be influenced by the color of the cover of a book. But they're something, so what's one to do ?)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       My Arno Schmidt-book

       I (self-)published my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy almost a decade ago, and when I did I hoped to sell fifty copies in the first year, and figured that when John E. Woods' translation of Bottom's Dream appeared (as it then did in 2016) interest in that would lead to a hundred or so additional sales.
       As it turned out, the book sold exactly fifty copies in the first year -- but, while the appearance of the Bottom's Dream-translation did make for renewed interest, it took quite a while for the book to reach 150 copies sold. Surprisingly, however, it's proved to have a decent long tail, with something of a surge (relatively speaking) in sales the past year or two, and this summer has now passed 200 copies sold in all.
       These aren't very impressive sales-totals, but more than I expected -- and I've even made some money off it (a profit of over US$500.00 to date), which is, after all, more than many books manage.
       What I'm particularly/most amused by is that the book has thirteen reader-ratings at (much appreciated), while my commercially (well, university-press) published The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- which has, of course, had an order of magnitude greater sales -- has only garnered ten.

       Anyway, it's nice to see the book has beat my expectations, and that it's found readers who seem to enjoy it. Go, Arno !

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

7 September 2023 - Thursday

Longlists: Baillie Gifford Prize - Scotiabank Giller Prize
Tractatus Prize | The Gasp review

       Longlist: Baillie Gifford Prize

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, a leading non-fiction book prize paying out £50,000 to the winner.
       Thirteen titles have been longlisted; I haven't seen any of these.
       The shortlist will be announced 8 October, and the winner will be announced 16 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Longlist: Scotiabank Giller Prize

       They've announced the longlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, awarded to: "the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation".
       Twelve titles made the longlist, from 145 (unfortunately not revealed) submissions; although translations are eligible, all of the longlisted titles this year were written in English.
       The shortlist will be announced 11 October, and the winner on 13 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Tractatus Prize

       The Philosophicum Lech has announced the winner of this year's Tractaus, a prize for best German-language philosophical text, and it is Die Qualen des Narzissmus, by Isolde Charim.
       See also the Zsolnay foreign rights page.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Gasp review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Romain Gary's 1973 novel, The Gasp -- one of the novels he wrote in English.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

6 September 2023 - Wednesday

Europese Literatuurprijs | Prix Goncourt longlist
Österreichischer Buchpreis longlist | Elif Batuman on ChatGPT

       Europese Literatuurprijs

       They've announced the winner of this year's Europese Literatuurprijs, a Ducth prize awarded for the best translated work of contemporary European fiction, and it is the Dutch translation of Claire-Louise Bennett's Checkout 19.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Prix Goncourt longlist

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the longlist for this year's prix Goncourt, the biggest of the French literary prizes.
       Sixteen titles -- including one by French-writing Japanese author Akira Mizubayashi (whose Fractured Soul came out in English earlier this year; see the HarperVia publicity page). Nice to also see a Jean-Philippe Toussaint on the longlist (L'Échiquier; see also the Les Éditions de Minuit publicity page); twelve of his books are under review at the complete review (e.g. Monsieur) and I hope to eventually get to this one as well.
       This is a four-round prize, with the shorter longlist to be announced on 3 October, the four finalists on 25 October, and the winner on 7 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Österreichischer Buchpreis longlist

       Following close on the heels of the German Book Prize (see my recent mention), they've announced the longlist for this year's Austrian Book Prize, with ten titles selected from 137 (unfortunately not revealed) submissions. (The (German-language-)Swiss Book Prize is due to follow suit with their longlist announcement next week .....)
       Teresa Präauer and Clemens J. Setz were also German Book Prize-longlisted, but there are also several other authors who have had work translated into English with titles in the running -- I Called Him Necktie-author Milena Michiko Flašar, The Weather Fifteen Years Ago -author Wolf Haas, and Maja Haderlap. (Meanwhile, Thomas Oláh's Doppler -- one of three finalists in the 'debut' (but not the main) category, was also longlisted for the German Book Prize.)
       I now have an e-copy of the Setz, and hope to get a look at some more of these as well.
       The shortlist will be announced 10 October, and the winner on 6 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Elif Batuman on ChatGPT

       The Guardian brings a piece that Elif Batuman published in her email newsletter (The Elif Life) a few weeks ago, Proust, ChatGPT and the case of the forgotten quote -- an amusing look at trying to use ChatGPT.
       On the whole I have been impressed by the creative side of ChatGPT -- but I have to admit I am kind of shocked and disappointed at how poorly it does as research-aide or search-engine, in particular for literary questions. The 'hallucinations' of titles are the biggest and most obvious (and most baffling -- can't it just check in a reliable database ?) issue, but it's remarkable how poorly it fares otherwise as well with the factual and textual -- as Batuman entertainingly documents.
       (I've dipped my toes into using ChatGPT to help both with the finding-of-information for reviews at the complete review as well as some other literary projects and the results have been catastrophic; worse than just unreliable, ChatGPT is consistently misleading (and its being apologetic when you call it out on its mistakes is neither help nor comfort ...).)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

5 September 2023 - Tuesday

Premio FIL | Edith Grossman (1936-2023) | Wolfson History Prize shortlist
The Fox From Up Above and the Fox From Down Below review

       Premio FIL

       They've announced the winner of this year's Premio FIL de Literatura en Lenguas Romances, a US$150,000 author prize awarded to an author writing in a Romance language, and it is Coral Bracho, who will get to pick up the prize on 25 November, at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.
       She was selected from the 49 writers who were nominated, from 22 countries, writing in seven Romance languages.
       New Directions has published two collections by her -- most recently, just last year, It Must Be a Misunderstanding; get your copy at, or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Edith Grossman (1936-2023)

       Renowned translator Edith Grossman has passed away; see, for example, Rebecca Chace's obituary in The New York Times.

       Quite a few of her translations are under review at the complete review -- as is her work explaining Why Translation Matters.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Wolfson History Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Wolfson History Prize, a £50,000 prize.
       The winner will be announced on 13 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Fox From Up Above and the Fox From Down Below review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of José María Arguedas' The Fox From Up Above and the Fox From Down Below.

       First published (posthumously) in 1971, an English translation of this came out in 2000 -- but is awfully hard (or at least expensive) to come by; see, for example, the prices at AbeBooks. I have no idea why the (university press) that published this hasn't kept this at least in print-on-demand print; it's a significant work by a significant author .....
       In his Ascent to Glory, Álvaro Santana-Acuña presents it as one of five examples of Latin American fiction that, he suggests, could have attained: "classic status globally" (as Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude did) but, for various reasons, failed to do so. There's certainly some case to be made for it, but the posthumous publication -- two years after the author's suicide -- which of course also meant Arguedas wasn't around to help publicize it would certainly have been a big hurdle to clear. (As is, the novel was only translated into German in 2019, and a French translation only came out this year (with an introduction by Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clézio).) The suicide-talk in the novel probably didn't help, either.
       (Santana-Acuña also notes that Luis Harss considered including Arguedas in his landmark 1967 introduction to Latin American authors, Into The Mainstream: "But Harss did not include him because, as he explained four decades later, 'Even today, I don't know what to do with a writer like him.'" Arguedas is nevertheless fairly well-known, and his major works have been translated into English and are relatively easy to find; still, one wonders what his stature would be if he had been among the authors profiled and interviewed by Harss. But Arguedas -- and especially this work -- certainly are different from most of what one comes across.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

4 September 2023 - Monday

Translation in ... India | Kids (not ?) reading in the UK | Charco Press profile

       Translation in ... India

       At Sanchit Toor looks at How a publisher and a foundation are furthering translations between India's languages.
       Those would be publisher Zubaan and the Prabha Khaitan Foundation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Kids (not ?) reading in the UK

       The (British) National Literacy Trust reports on Children and young people's reading in 2023 in the UK, based on 71,351 responses to their Annual Literacy Survey from children and young people aged 5 to 18.
       The depressing summing-up:
In 2023, we recorded the lowest level of reading enjoyment since we started asking children and young people about this in 2005. A large part of the reason is that fewer of those who have traditionally enjoyed reading, such as girls and those aged 8 to 11, now say they enjoy it.
       Only 28 per cent of respondents said that they read daily in 2023.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Charco Press profile

       In the Buenos Aires Herald Agustín Mango profiles Charco Press: A love of Latin American literature across the pond.
       Not only does Charco Press publish an impressive list of translations:
Across the pond from the UK, in the United States, Charco has also begun publishing Spanish-language originals through existing distribution channels. To date, it has released 10 titles, with more on the way.
       Disappointingly, I still have never seen a Charco book in real life .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

3 September 2023 - Sunday

JCB Prize longlist | Richa Bhattarai Q & A | Persuader review

       JCB Prize longlist

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the longlist for this year's JCB Prize for Literature, a leading Indian literary prize.
       Four of the ten titles are works in translation, from Bengali, Tamil, and (two from) Hindi.
       Hopefully, some of these will also make it to the US/UK.
       The shortlist will be announced 20 October, and the winner on 18 November.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Richa Bhattarai Q & A

       In The Kathmandu Post Manushree Mahat talks with Richa Bhattarai 'about the reading culture in Nepal and the growing representation of all sections of the society in its literary scene over the years', in Nepali literature is progressing, albeit slowly

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Persuader review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lee Child's Persuader -- the seventh Jack Reacher novel, which came out ... twenty years ago.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

2 September 2023 - Saturday

(American) National Translation Awards longlists | Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Q & A

       (American) National Translation Awards longlists

       The American Literary Translators Association has announced the longlists for this year's National Translation Awards in their two categories, prose and poetry.
       The twelve prose titles were selected from 262 submissions (and include titles from Indian publishers Juggernaut and HarperCollins India -- which, alas, like most of the other titles, I have not seen). The twelve poetry titles were selected from 93 submissions.
       Amazingly, the only title under review at the complete review is a poetry-title, Nelly Sachs' Flight and Metamorphosis, translated by Joshua Weiner with Linda B. Parshall.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Q & A

       At the Los Angeles Review of Books Remo Verdickt and Emiel Roothooft offer Prison Left Me Laughing: A Conversation with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
       Among Ngũgĩ's responses:
What African writer should we read next ?

The writer of the future, who writes in an African language.
       I wish he'd name some names ..... (Or just offer a list of writers writing in African (non-colonial) languages whose work is available in translation .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

1 September 2023 - Friday

Michal Ajvaz Q & A | Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize longlist
Social media presence

       Michal Ajvaz Q & A

       At The Collidescope George Salis has Cosmic Creations: An Exclusive Interview with Michal Ajvaz.
       Among Ajvaz's explanations:
I prefer to talk about the area of Central Europe whose Bohemia is a part. Central Europe is roughly identified with the area of the former Habsburg Empire (the Austrians are Central Europeans, but not the Germans, even though they speak the same language), and the “spirit” of this area has features of absurdity, irony, and mistrust of all “great ideas. In this sense, I think my work has its roots in this Central European atmosphere. And by the way, I do not like the tag “magical realism” used in relation to my work; I do not think it has much in common with the work of writers like Márquez. I feel an affinity with Central European authors like Kafka or Bruno Schulz.
       Several of Ajvaz's works are under review at the complete review -- e.g. The Golden Age -- but I haven't gotten to Journey to the South yet.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize longlist

       Via I'm pointed to the announcement of the longlist for this year's Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Translation Prize, "honoring the best English translation of a work written originally in the Spanish language".
       Two of the ten longlisted titles are under review at the complete review: Chris Andrews' translation of César Aira's The Famous Magician and Elizabeth Bryer's translation of María José Ferrada's How to Turn Into a Bird -- though I am disappointed at how many of these I have not seen.
       The shortlist will be announced on 24 October.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Social media presence

       I've been on Twitter since March 2009 and have found it a generally very positive experience. For all the complaints about the toxic activity there, I've never found too much sloshing around in my (literary-account-heavy) feed and the crazies have rarely come across as more than the occasional background noise; I've also found it relatively easy (or been lucky enough to) stay away from (and/or out of) the kind of unpleasant exchanges that many users seem to have to deal with. That said, as everyone knows, Twitter has changed -- and not just in name -- and I, too have found: not for the better. The experience is no longer nearly as enjoyable.
       Most disappointing is, of course, that a lot of interesting accounts have left Twitter, and I miss them; it used to be a more exciting (and informative) forum. Many have moved on to some of the other social media sites that have popped up -- though fortunately enough remain that I still find it worthwhile to be on Twitter. But I do wonder for how much longer -- and what the possible alternatives might be (for me).
       Among the most disappointing changes to Twitter is that the feeds are no longer open to viewers who are not signed in to the site, i.e. it has become something of a closed system. Individual tweets can still be viewed without being signed in (e.g.), and viewers can see a sort of 'best of' list of an account's most-liked tweets (my feed-topper), but that's it. If this had been the policy at Twitter when I started using it I would not have joined; I see no purpose in entering such a closed system (one of the many reasons I never even considered joining F*c*book); it also is what makes me most want to leave the site -- which so far I have not done out of a) inertia (as longtime readers know, I don't do change well) and b) the lack of viable alternatives.

       The main alternatives appear to be:

       Threads -- a clear non-starter from the get-go, as it's:
  • Not open to readers who are not logged in -- a deal-breaker right there
  • Part of the F*c*book/Instagram/Meta 'family', which I refuse to have any part of
       Bluesky -- which might be of interest in the future, but which I can't imagine considering now, because:
  • I need an 'invitation' to get an account ? Seriously ? Fuck that, always. I understand it's still in some kind of beta phase (and they're trying to hold the bots at bay), but an invitation ? Invitations seem relatively easily to come by, but, sorry, I want a platform with the gates wide open, which anyone can sign up to without having to jump through silly hoops like this.
  • Feeds do not seem to be readable by viewers who are not signed in ? Maybe they will be in the future ? Who knows, who cares, for now this platform is distinctly uninviting.
       Mastodon -- which looks like the most promising of the lot.
       Easy, open sign-up !
       Browser-viewable (i.e. you don't need to use/download an 'app' -- another deal-breaker for me) !
       Feeds are readable without being signed in !
       Hey, it's so promising ... I'm actually already on Mastodon ..... But, yeah, not exactly actively; for now I just (automatedly) post whenever a new review goes up.
       Why not more active ? I'm sorry to admit that it hasn't gripped me yet. I've sniffed around, but am not finding the kind of information and engagement that I'm looking for.
       (Yes, I know I am not *following* anyone. People seem to find it hard to understand, but just because I am not officially *following* someone does not mean I am not aware of and looking at their posts/feed. I *follow* 606 accounts on Twitter and that already makes for more clutter in my feed than I like -- but there are also many accounts I keep track of which I don't officially follow ..... (I am always baffled by people who follow and then unfollow my account when I don't follow theirs; I have no idea why people expect this kind of reciprocity; many accounts I follow don't follow me and that doesn't surprise or bother me in the least; everyone should tailor their social media and usage thereof to whatever best serves their needs/wants. (One more reason I don't like closed systems, where the pressure to (be)*friend* is even more intense.))
       So, sigh, so far I don't see Mastodon as a place I will really get into.

       There are, of course, other alternatives -- like various literary fora and the like. I regularly check out, for example, The Fictional Woods, the World Literature Forum, and The Mookse and the Gripes' discussion group, but I am not a member of any of these. I appreciate that I can read the discussions but can't see myself becoming active on anything like this -- not least because there's simply too little discussion going on. One of the neat things about Twitter is that there's a lot of activity. Also: there are too many topics I'd want to weigh in on; again, Twitter has proven a good space in how it allows one to be as active as one wants to be, without everything grinding to a halt if one doesn't contribute for a while (as often seems to be the case at these various fora).

       (Do I need to mention that TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram (the latter disqualified in any case because it's part of the F*c*book-empire) are all out of the question since I need/want a platform that is first and foremost text-centric ? (Among the changes that most disappointed me at Twitter was, not long after I started using it, when they started to make it possible for users to post pictures and video.))

       A final option would be simply a retreat to this Literary Saloon, expanding posting here with some of what I otherwise leave for Twitter (stuff like this or this, for example). One significant drawback would be that it would be a lot more work (for me). Another is, of course, that there's no real outside/interactive engagement. (Aside from the nightmare of the logistics of adding (and monitoring ...) comment-capability to the weblog, the upkeep would simply be too much work, so that's never going to happen). Again, Twitter does/did engagement of this kind very well.
       I do miss the days of a much more active (literary) "blogosphere", but, yeah, that ain't coming back: while I still read many of the many literary weblogs out there (and there really are an enormous number of them), there's not nearly as much cross-over and dialogue between them as there briefly was in the early 2000s. (I still use an RSS/news-aggregator to help keep track of many weblogs -- currently: The Old Reader --, but, man, Google Reader is sorely missed. As is the time when one of the Google-search "filters" was 'Blogs' .....)

       At this point, I have to say the last looks like the likeliest option, which I find rather disappointing. One of the things that first appealed to me about the internet, and the reason I designed the site as I did, was this amazing possibility to link back and forth. I am a bit surprised that, as far as the complete review goes, there's orders of magnitude more linking forth than there is any back, but I'm okay with that; still, what I liked about Twitter was the incredible amount of back and forth and commentary, all over the place, that it enabled and encouraged. The platform has already shrunk terribly as far as my areas of interest go -- with the relentless attempt to monetize the site an ever-increasing irritant -- and I can see myself bailing on it if this keeps up. I don't mind retreating to my little bubble, doing my thing -- and I know there is a not insignificant audience out there that follows what I do here (thanks !) -- but I'd miss the more intense engagement with others that Twitter has allowed for.
       What's become of Twitter is yet another painful and depressing example of the internet not living up to its incredible potential (and yet another site screwed up by bad management/ownership -- though I understand the pressure to make money with something that can't possibly do so helps drive much of this poor decision-making, in this case and so many others across the internet). I still hold out some faint hope that Twitter can be salvaged, but ... who am I kidding ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

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