Disambiguations™ for December 2, 2009
I. Exciting news: Dave Tompkins's decade-in-the-making How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From WWII to Hip Hop. The Machine Speaks is forthcoming from Stop Smiling/Melville House next spring. (A sample of his vocoder musings can be found in an old Believer.)
The book's title, we learn, is "from a mishearing of the vocoder-rendered phrase 'how to recognize speech.' "
A Rousselian distortion! It's a trend: Last week I saw a New Yorker listing for the group Alice Donut, and learned that the band name came from a similar homophonic smudging, of the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. (The full name was "Alice Donut Liver Henry Moore.")
II. Earlier this year, Richard Polt—not just the esteemed editor of Keeler News (and the founder of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society) but the editor of ETCetera: Journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors' Association—was good enough to set me up with a Lettera 22, which I brought along to the wilds of Wyoming. (I had feared that my laptop would give out on me.) Here is the evidence:
It's a lovely, jade-by-way-of-pea-soup-colored machine that was a joy to use...until last week, when a bit of connective tissue snapped. I plan to get it fixed soon, and in the meantime blame my non-writing on its injury.
Here's Sylvia Plath with her Lettera:
And here's Mark Sarvas mentioning his old Lettera a while back...
And of course, the most recent news: Cormac McCarthy's trusty Lettera 32—is going up for auction. He wrote all his books on it (including three unpublished novels), and estimates an output of 5 million words over the years. As someone in the piece puts it: "It’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife."