Today in publishing and literature: Michiko Kakutani engages her Twitter doppelganger, the public domain welcomes James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, and another scary potential side effect of digital publishing.
It seems not everyone is enjoying the work of @CriticMichiko, the fake Twitter written in the voice of the famously cutting New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani that popped up a few days after Christmas. Last night, new user @ActualNYTMK directed a message to the fake Kakutani: "Please stop impersonating me. I am me." It's unclear @ActualNYTMK is the actual Kakutani or the inevitable copy-of-a-copy that inevitably pops up in the wake of fake Twitter success. On the one hand, the first two tweets from the account, plus her insistence that she understands why @CriticMichiko is funny are guileless and cautious: they really do feel like the work of a non-tweeter attempting to take back their identity. In subsequent tweets -- like the one speculating that novelist Jonathan Lethem is at the controls of the original account -- it seems like the "actual" Kakutani is trying a tad too hard to be a friend and foil to @CriticMichiko, who to its credit, isn't having any of it. [Page Views]
The pre-1923 works of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and various other authors who died in 1941 officially entered the public domain yesterday. That means the fear of legal retribution is no longer a valid excuse for not going ahead with your plans for a sweeping, $80 million film adaptation of Ulysses. [The New York Observer]
Scotland's High Court is going to review a ruling that gave a real estate developer permission to build five houses on the land presently occupied by Undershaw, the dilapidated old mansion where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and threw various literary parties. Doyle's relatives and celebrity cause-backers like Stephen Fry have pushed for the house to be preserved, with an eye towards setting up some kind of a museum on the grounds. [The Independent]
Authors, already skeptical of what e-books are doing to their bank accounts, won't like Nicholas Carr's new theory that digital publishing is also going to kill the "fixity" of writing, because it makes revising and updating a work so easy. That's great if you're the author of a text book or travel guide, but it will also allow authors to continue tinkering with a work long after publication. "Polemicists will be able to bolster their arguments with new evidence," writes Carr. "Novelists will be able to scrub away the little anachronisms that can make even a recently published story feel dated." As with director's cuts of movies, the freedom to add and take away material at will make it increasingly tough to define the "definitive" version of a given work. [The Wall Street Journal]