Sunday, June 05, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N23): Romance or Not, Grief in The Killing, The Value of College, Nordic Crimewave + More

From Salon reacting to a report on Utah's that romance novels can he highly addictive and threaten marriages (Salon):
Now, a disclaimer first: These generalities are always problematic, because far more men and women represent unique variations on these stereotypes than perfectly adhere to the sexual mold. It's also true that romance novels do not all include sex, whereas porn does by definition. As Sarah Wendell wrote on her website, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, "Anyone who picks up [romance novelist] Georgette Heyer looking for Jenna Jameson is going to be woefully and comically disappointed." A much more direct comparison can be made between smut and the hot-and-heavy action of X-rated fan fiction, but romance novels represent a larger, more mainstream audience. That's why researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam used the two genres -- as well as billions of Internet search terms -- as a way to plumb the depths of the male and female sexual psyches in their book "A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire," and it's a gold mine for a discussion like this one.
Slate looks at how grief is a center piece of the AMC serial The Killing (Slate):
And so The Killing, AMC's moody police procedural about the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen, had its work cut out for it when it decided to tie its murder-investigation plot to a closely observed portrait of the grief of Larsen's parents, Stan and Mitch. Grief is not an easy sell to the American public in the best of circumstances. To portray it authentically is to risk alienating viewers. In addition to being an internal experience that's hard to dramatize, grief can make the bereaved seem prickly and standoffish, difficult to sympathize with. After a warm critical reception, The Killing has indeed stumbled lately, with The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin and Salon's Matt Zoller Seitz pointing out the show's many flaws—the way our relationship to main characters like the mayoral candidate and the detectives fails to deepen and the sketchy politics of the recent terrorist bait-and-switch subplot. To judge by the increasingly impatient responses from fellow viewers I've talked with, the Larsens' plight has started to grate as well. Ironically, though, it is probably the show's most original feature. If frustration with the detective story is due to The Killing's all-too-risible plot twists, frustration with the Larsens is tied up with the show's more-nuanced-than-usual portrait of grief.
In The Atlantic, Debating the Value of College in America by Louis Menand (The Atlantic)
Society needs a mechanism for sorting out its more intelligent members from its less intelligent ones, just as a track team needs a mechanism (such as a stopwatch) for sorting out the faster athletes from the slower ones. Society wants to identify intelligent people early on so that it can funnel them into careers that maximize their talents. It wants to get the most out of its human resources. College is a process that is sufficiently multifaceted and fine-grained to do this. College is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test. Students have to demonstrate intellectual ability over time and across a range of subjects. If they’re sloppy or inflexible or obnoxious—no matter how smart they might be in the I.Q. sense—those negatives will get picked up in their grades. As an added service, college also sorts people according to aptitude. It separates the math types from the poetry types. At the end of the process, graduates get a score, the G.P.A., that professional schools and employers can trust as a measure of intellectual capacity and productive potential. It’s important, therefore, that everyone is taking more or less the same test.
New York magazine takes an almost retrospective look at Scandinavian crime fiction (New York):
Stieg Larsson didn’t just write three blockbuster novels and create an iconic feminist sleuth named Lisbeth Salander. The author, who died at age 50 in 2004, introduced the world to Scandinavian crime fiction, a massive iceberg of a genre, decades old, of which Americans have seen only the tip. That’s already changing. In the next year or so, we may well see Zac Efron in a movie based on Jens Lapidus’s Easy Money, an adaptation of a best seller by Danish newcomer Jussi Adler-Olsen produced by Lars von Trier’s company, and Norwegian star author Jo Nesbø approaching Larsson-level fame (if Knopf head Sonny Mehta has anything to say about it). Over the past year, Mehta has been “busy turning Scandinavians down,” feeling that “I was inhabiting some kind of dark Nordic night.” But he plans to market Nesbø’s The Snowman to the heavens; 150,000 copies hit stores beginning May 10. Even academics are catching the fever: On May 20, a symposium on “Stieg Larsson and Scandinavian Crime Fiction” will convene deep in the heart of Chandler country, at UCLA. For those in search of a summer project, a guide to navigating this publishing phenomenon.
Finally, there's a lot of material from the Hay Festival on sponsors The Telegraph's web site but here is a list of best quotes (Telegraph):
Event 141 Eric Hobsbawm with Tristram Hunt “Eric’s books are on sale in the bookshop, because, as any Marxist will tell you, materialism matters.”

Event 150 David Sedaris “One in three Americans weigh as much as the other two.”
From the Twitter this week:

Learning to Read on Zero Dollars a Day -

Girls, pick your bedtime reading with care

Amazon May Soon Need to Collect Sales Tax -

EBSCO Publishing and The H.W. Wilson Company Make Joint Announcement of Merger Agreement

WorldCat Local adds access to more databases, collections and publishers

Google and publishers weigh their options after lawyers are given more time by Judge Denny Chin

And in sports, Lance Armstrong's lawyers have requested an on air apology from 60mins for the segment last week with Tyler Hamilton in which he accuses Armstrong of doping. As The Atlantic puts is: Do they think we're stupid? (The Atlantic)

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