Majnun Ben-David
                     writer

New Yorker Note: Inventions

The New Yorker publishes a new short story almost every week, and I offer my thoughts on it here. Usually I aim to get my review up within a day or two of the story being posted, but I'm a little tardy (six days) with this one. Other websites that provide coverage of The New Yorker stories are The Mookse and the Gripes and Clifford Garstang.

This week's story is "
Inventions," a newly discovered story by the late Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Nobel Prizewinner. The story was originally written in 1965, translated from Yiddish in the late 1960s, and discovered in Singer's papers in the Ransom Center by David Stromberg. Click here to see the full post...
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Archive Backups: Why Time Machine Is Not Enough

The noted author Ayelet Waldman is more careful about backing up her computer files than most people. She uses both Dropbox and Time Capsule. Last night, she realized that she had lost all of her writing prior to 2013, even though Dropbox and Time Capsule worked exactly as designed. Her pain was palpable on Twitter, and her resolve to move forward and "write better" is impressive. I wish her the very best in those efforts.

I wish I could have helped Ms. Waldman. But it occurred to me that I could perhaps at least help others from suffering through the same thing. Because remember, Ms. Waldman did have backups. She was careful, but she got tripped up with an often-overlooked (even by techies) limitation to automatic backup solutions. And there's a simple and cheap solution to that limitation, which is the point of this blog post.

There are two kinds of backups, and discovering the difference can be a painful experience. Below I explain the difference between these two kinds of backups, and describe a cheap and easy solution for writers that dramatically reduces your odds of losing data.

TLDR: Periodically copy all your writing files onto a flash drive as an "archive backup" because automatic backup systems eventually replace old backups with new backups which can be very very bad.
Click here to see the full post...
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Remarks: Jan Ellison's "A Small Indiscretion"

When I created this website a couple of years ago, I included Jan Ellison on my Links page as one of just a few "up-and-coming" authors on the basis of her excellent short stories (read them here). As such, I was excited to learn that her first book, a novel, was being published by Random House. "A Small Indiscretion" is now out in hardback and digital form (buy it online here or here, or at a bookstore near you here). My spoiler-free remarks on it are as follows … Click here to see the full post...
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New Yorker Note: The Breadman

The New Yorker publishes a new short story almost every week, and I offer my thoughts on it here. Other websites that provide coverage of The New Yorker stories are The Mookse and the Gripes and Clifford Garstang.

This week's story is "
The Breadman" by J. Robert Lennon, author of seven novels (Mailman and Happyland are two of the better-known ones) and numerous short stories. He is also a professor at Cornell.

Before we get into the review itself, I wanted to point out that the publication of Lennon's short story coincides with his launch of a new on-line literary journal,
Okey-Panky, under the auspices of the well-known Electric Literature. I don't know if the timing is intentional or coincidental [update: Prof. Lennon kindly responded that it was a happy coincidence], but I think it's great that the attention generated by a New Yorker story is being channeled toward the launch of a free online literary journal. Click here to see the full post...
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Je Suise Charlie

The attack today in Paris is an attack on all who write. I stand with Charlie Hebdo.

One way to make a real difference is to subscribe to Charlie Hebdo, whether you can read French or not. In the United States, you can do this quite easily via Amazon here
http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Hebdo/dp/B00007LMFU. Or you can subscribe from anywhere (I think) at http://www.viapresse.com/abonnement-magazine-charlie-hebdo.html.

Subscribing to Charlie Hebdo is a concrete way of supporting freedom of expression over violent oppression.

For those offended by Charlie Hebdo, my suggestion is to respond to them in kind: draw cartoons of them. Write satire about them. Match pen for pen.

For those of faith concerned by Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of religion, I would suggest that God is not threatened by cartoonists.

Shooting those who mock you is a sign of weakness, not strength. And it is not effective. Until today, I had not paid much attention to Charlie Hebdo. Now I am a subscriber.

No voices were silenced today. They were made louder.

Disclaimer: The links above are not referral links (i.e., I’m not paid if people use them). This blog is entirely non-commercial.
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New Yorker Note: The Crabapple Tree

Among new short stories, those published each week in The New Yorker likely have the largest readership. My idea is to post a few thoughts on each New Yorker story as they are published. We’ll see if this idea solidifies into a weekly habit or dissipates into an “I-used-to.”

This week’s story is “
The Crabapple Tree” by the esteemed Robert Coover. Coover, who is 82, came out with his 10th novel in 2014, a sequel to his first novel, published in 1966. In between, he has written numerous short stories, co-founded the Electronic Literature Organization (“thrives at the intersection of digital media and [academic jargon alert] textuality”), and served as a professor at Brown University. He is known for metafictional takes on classic genres, as can often be seen from his titles alone (“Pinocchio in Venice,” “Noir,” etc). Click here to see the full post...
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