Tuesday News: AWP conference, digital media design, and Paracuellos
AWP 2016 Wrap-up: Literature, Commerce, and Even Love Collide in Los Angeles – This year’s meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs featured everything from a moving lecture from Claudia Rankine to a marriage proposal proffered during a live poetry reading. Rankine’s presentation focused on the lack of diversity in U.S. MFA programs, and a “privileging [of] the white imagination.” The conference included more than 550 panels and 800 exhibitors, including publishers.
Nowhere is the collision of literary expression and commercial endeavor more evident than at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference (AWP). Alongside the week’s controversies and contentions, including Claudia Rankine’s powerful speech confronting racism within the creative writing community, the book fair in the L.A. Convention Center was jammed from March 31-April 2, with attendees checking out the offerings of a record number of exhibitors—over 800, primarily literary, university, and small presses. Though some larger entities—publishers and publications more likely to take a booth at BEA—showed up too.
This year, for the first time, Penguin Random House had a booth at which employees talked to writers about publishing and/or promoting their work, and sold titles from their lists to attendees. The New York Times was there as well, with a display showing off their new virtual reality films, which are viewed through a set of cardboard goggles made by Google. Viewers insert their smart phones into the goggles and view the films on a special app. Conference attendees were offered demos throughout the three days. – Publishers Weekly
It’s the Designers’ Fault, Not Yours – David Pogue’s delineation of a few basic guidelines for clean design is even better with its companion piece, 5 of the Worst User-Interface Disasters, which includes the Apple Watch, Windows 8, and the USS Vincennes control system. Windows 8, writes Pogue, actually had two interfaces, which confused and alienated users. The operating system is also featured in Pogue’s design rules:
Words are crucial. Longtime geeks still chuckle at the infuriating ambiguity of the old Windows dialog boxes that had three buttons: Abort, Retry and Fail.
But guess what? Their descendants live on. To this day, I’d bet good money that lots of Windows users are confused by the choice of OK or Apply in dialog boxes—what’s the difference?
Words matter in another way, too: A picture may be worth a thousand words but not when it’s an unlabeled icon displaying a cryptic squiggle. Label your icons with words, people. – Scientific American
A Spanish Comic Book Exposes Franco’s Orphanages – A compelling review of Carlos Giménez’s Paracuellos, a work of both political and personal horror that Etelka Lehoczky notes is both specific to 1950s Spain and “universal” in his moving portrayal of the boys who lived in the state home. Giménez lived in five different state institutions in eight years (ages 6-14), using his own experiences to tell the story of cruelty, abuse, and starvation the children faced:
Besides dramatizing the link between the human body and the body politic — neither of which can tolerate the unnaturalness of such evil — the two incidents make a powerful point: In these pages the bullies torture the other kids with the same vicious creativity the adults use to torture everyone. The parallels with fascism are clear.
Such pungent stories are found throughout Paracuellos. It’s amazing that it took so long for this work, seamlessly translated by Sonya Jones, to be released in the U.S. Giménez’ acute moral sensitivity, needle-sharp characterizations and knack for narrative make Paracuellos comparable to Maus and Persepolis.
His artwork may surpass them. – NPR