Issue 35, Final Fringe

Tagged: Blogs

Book Blog Review: Isak

by Nina Ignaczak 07.15.2010

Welcome to Isak, the project of journalist and fiction writer Anna Clark. Named after writer Isak Dinesen, the blog seeks to provide “a space to celebrate tales and truth in the curious, loving way that embodies the spirit of the writer for which it is named.” On a given day, you may encounter Clark’s musings on the merits and inadequacies of author Francine Prose, an in-depth look at the work of recent Pulitzer winners, or a list of top literary magazines to which you absolutely must subscribe. Isak was recently listed as one of Largehearted Boy’s “Blogs to Read 2010.”

Clark’s meditations reflect a heartfelt reverance for literature and its importance to society and spirit. Whether she is arguing with literary critics on form (the role of narrative vs. scenes in fiction in Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping), expounding on the macabre prose style of William Styron ’s Lie Down in the Darkness, or commenting on a Wall Street Journal article about a kid’s campaign to prevent closure of a local independent bookstore, she exhibits unmistakable allegiance to the power and sanctity of words.

In 2009 Isak launched Choose Books: A Gift Guide for Those Who Love Stories series, a 53-page Christmas shopping guide designed to... more »

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Not Your Father's Book Review: Literary Blogs

by Nina Ignaczak 06.28.2010

Once upon a time, way back in the early ‘aughts, film lovers, foodies, and lovers of literature looking to hedge their bets on the latest Hollywood release, micro-brew bistro, or DeLillo novel turned to the professional reviewers of venerated institutions such as the New York Times or The Boston Globe. Like much of the pre-Web 2.0 way of life, those days are gone.

The proliferation of user-review websites such as Amazon, Goodreads, Rotten Tomatoes, and Yelp! have reconfigured the landscape and possibly created a new endangered species: the professional critic.

As if user-review sites were not enough to sound the death-knell for the New York Times book critic, the explosion of the blogosphere circa-2004 birthed a new genre of literary criticism: the literary blog (litblog, for short). Written by both professional and “amateur” critics, litblogs embody all of the gravy and liability of the blogosphere, adding a multitude of new voices to the mix, democratizing the conversation, and expanding content servicing the ultra-specific (e.g. poetry, or graphic novels), while simultaneously overwhelming the reader with content, choices, and links, blurring the role between professional critic and amateur, and reducing the market for paid professionals.

For literature aficionados, litblogs provide a way of connecting to the like-minded. Rain Taxi,... more »

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Health Care Stories: Call for Submissions

by Lindsey Danis 08.23.2009

With the debate still raging in the news about public health care options, writer and blogger William Campbell put out a call for submissions for health care stories. The project has been going on all month and wraps up this week, and Campbell hopes to finish with a bang. From the email:

“The project has been going on strong. So far, we’ve received stories from all around the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Denmark, Taiwan, Japan, and Israel, as well as my impressions on engaging with Tea Party protesters outside the town hall meeting in Hagerstown, MD:

So, please, if you have the time and/or inclination, we would really appreciate it if you could:

1. Contribute a story/opinion piece of your own;

2. Spread the word any way you see fit (Twitter, blog post, whatever);

3. Wish us nothing but good will.

With health care reform hanging in the balance and the debate getting more and more heated by the day, I feel it’s important to provide a modest forum where people can simply share their honest opinions and experiences.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Submissions should be sent via email to wmrcampbell[at]gmail[dot]com

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Teh Internetz: Bloggity Blog Blog


Writing on Teh Internetz. We all do it. You may not want to call it blogging, but whatever.

Today, I bring you profiles of some of the more ubiquitous blogging tools. You know. In case you wanna get in on some of that easy blogging money!

(Caveat: There is actually no easy blogging money.)

Speaking of, these are all free services. Unless you want to get fancy, you can run a blog on these platforms for no money at all.

1. Blogger

Blogger is the blogging platform that’s owned by Google. You know it; you’re looking at it right now. It’s Fringe’s platform of choice, and it’s fairly easy peasy. If you’ve got a Google account (also known as a Gmail account, though it does more than Gmail, people), then you can log in to and get started right now. However, there’s not a ton of room for fancy personalization.

2. Wordpress

A favorite among the slightly tech-savvy, Wordpress sports a clean, streamlined look that can be calibrated to your personal tastes with lots and lots of options. It started life as an open-source blogging service at, but now it’s got the balls of corporate backing. A favorite in my line of work because... more »

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Midnight Bus Poetry


Over at Slog they’re keeping the spirit of poetry alive by publishing bus-related poems written by their faithful readers in a new column called, Midnight Bus Poetry. Check out posts by Paul Constant for poems—which may not be highbrow but certainly are highly amusing!—about the bus riding experience. And if you’re inspired, why not submit your own? Poems need to be 50 words or less and should be emailed to Winners appear here and on the Slog Blog. Enjoy!

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open space blogging


Recently I started a new blog, recruited some co-bloggers, and then proceeded to tell everyone they could make whatever changes they wanted, so long as they didn’t take anything away. I secured the blog name, but a friend designed it. Another blogger added a couple of widgets, which I then had to de-install because Wordpress is a far less fine product than Blogger. Posts can be authored by the individual authors or under the admin username.

Welcome to open space blogging. Open Space, for those not in the know, is a new information management scheme that takes the hierarchy and chain of command out of the workspace or meeting. According to its users, Open Space “works best when the work to be done is complex, the people and ideas involved are diverse, the passion for resolution (and potential for conflict) are high, and the time to get it done was yesterday.”

What makes it different from a shared blogging experience such as Fringe is the fact that total control is in the hands of any user. A dangerous idea, in the abstract, but a useful one if my east coast co-blogger can update comments, contact interested participants, and track blog views... more »

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Women Do What?


Most of us are aware that women are awesome and capable of just about anything. However, sometimes people seem to forget that while we are able to give birth, run countries, and cure diseases, we also do crazy things every once in a while, like drink beer and tell jokes. Weird.

Former Weekly Dig staffer Lissa Harris has noticed the slightly disturbing trend of the “look at women[insert completely inane and irrelevant activity here]!” headline and decided to create a blog dedicated to calling attention to these stories. Women Do! is just getting off the ground, so if you know a good story that meets this criterion: “The true Women Do story is not about medical issues, or gender discrimination, or anything properly related to women qua women. Oh no. It is about the shocking spectacle of women doing stuff that people generally do. At its heart is typically an earth-shattering revelation that some women, for instance, like to drive motor-cars or eat ice-cream.”, be sure to send your tip to womendoblank[at]

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Writing on the Fly


Former Fringe Blogger and Redivider Fiction Editor Matt Salesses has pioneered a new project he calls “Live Essays: An Experiment in Up-to-the-Minute Nonfiction.” The tagline: “I have decided to post this essay as I am writing it, and to write it as it is happening. We’ll see what comes of this. Other essays coming soon?”

It’s an interesting approach, for a couple of reasons: 1. Matt is primarily a fiction writer. 2. Matt is living in Korea, teaching English. 3. The immediacy of the writing tends to create a sense of intimacy that we wouldn’t normally get from an essay, as we feel we’re reading as the action is happening.

This breed of insta-writing is popping up elsewhere, as well–the cell phone novel has become one of the most popular literary forms in Japan, according to this week’s New Yorker article by Dana Goodyear. Sites like the Japanese Maho I-Land cater to young writers who can tap their tome as if texting on their cell, and then upload it directly onto the site, where readers can follow the installments as quickly as they’re written.

It is a phenomenon both thoroughly modern and a bit antiquated–popular novels were often serialized in newspapers in the days of Dickens,... more »

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blogwatch: Alinea at Home


Any faithful blog reader must surely by now have encountered the cook-through-the-book type of blog. The general idea is that some enterprising non-professional cook, dissatisfied or bored with the rigors of corporate life, decides that cooking her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, say, is a far finer thing to do. In Carol Blymire’s case it was The French Laundry cookbook. Was, because after the better part of two years, Blymire finished every recipe in the French Laundry cookbook, complete with photo documentation, fancy dinners at The French Laundry and Keller’s Per Se, and a wide internet fan base.

It’s not too late to be won over by Blymire’s humor over successes and epic failures both. You see, she’s decided to do it all over again using the new cookbook from Alinea, Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurant. Alinea, while winning numerous honors including Gourmet magazine’s nod as Best Restaurant in America, is primarily known for the adventurous detail involved in every plate. Think foams, agar and other hydrocolloids, aromas, airs and other aspects of molecular gastronomy most of us experience, if at all, secondhand. A blog post, with visuals sums up the intriguing experience.

How can you cook such cuisine at home? Lord... more »

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The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur Interviews EIC Lizzie Stark


The staff of Fringe already understands how wonderful our Editor-in-Chief Lizzie Stark is, but we always love to see her honored elsewhere, too. Check out The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for a little snapshot into Lizzie’s life as EIC.

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Blog is the New Black


Every time I blink these days, it seems a friend or acquaintance has created a blog. Whether it be a blog about meat, a blog about a summer in Ghana, or a blog about fashion, everyone’s got something to say. And this isn’t a phenomenon striking a small literary group in Boston–no, this new craze is spreading across the globe.

Celebrities like Kanye West and Michael Ian Black update their blogs daily, while writers like Tao Lin and Felicia Sullivan have built a strong reader base thanks to blogging. This somewhat indulgent NY Times Magazine piece attempts to break down the public’s fascination with the lives and musings of complete strangers.

Is it that we’re a generation obsessed with…ourselves? Or is it just that we’re so excited to have a platform where we can broadcast our opinions to the world (ostensibly), no rejections or censors or boundaries to hold us back?

We breached the blogging discussion at a party I attended several weeks ago. A few friends expressed the sentiment that they wanted to start blogs of their own, but were “afraid people would read it.” One friend even went so far as to start a blog, and then delete it when she thought too many... more »

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Stuff White People Like to Like


I recently came across the blog Stuff White People Like. Since its launch in January of this year, it has received over 18 million hits and 4,000 comments. The blog reads like a satirical handbook on how to understand white people by examining what they like.

At first I had to laugh that the first season of Arrested Development (#38) is in my DVD player, I recently received an invitation to an 80s party (#29), and I just made plans to meet a friend this weekend at our favorite breakfast place (#36).

As I thought more about the list, I noticed that it really only describes a particular brand of white people (seen every day here in Cambridge). One commenter agreed that the list is more “a qualitative outline of the young, faux-activist, indie-lifestyle, suburban white person, than of the caucasian race itself,” and it is more of a description of “an emerging pop culture stereotype than a racial one.” One of the posts even clarifies that white people don’t like “white people who vote Republican.” Obviously not all white people can identify with this list, but it’s a pretty accurate list for those who do.

With a satirical tone and focus on describing a cultural... more »

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tag, we're it!


I was tagged earlier this week with a meme that’s been making circles through the SF food blog community. The game? List five sordid facts about yourself, then tag five others. My tagger thought this would be a perfect project for a writer-cook, and that fact threw me into a tizzy. I had to cough up something good. And there are a few sordid stories I’d really rather keep to myself. The pressure was on to come up with five details and then sell them on their grisly details.

I’ll just share two of my “five sordid facts” here, but you can find the rest right here. I was hoping we could use this as a celebration of the more literary moments of blogging as well as an adventure. I challenge the subsequent posters to share (at least) one sordid fact with the Fringe community. Hell, you can even make it all up! We’ll never know…right?

So, from my list:
1. the “who am I really?”: For a long time when you googled me (which is to say when I googled myself) the first thing you saw was this: Toby Reid is a faggot Jew. It was the first sentence of a... more »

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The Amazon Kindle - Wave of the Future or Overpriced Tech-toy?


In this morning’s “Around the Water Cooler” segment of Good Morning America, I learned about the new Amazon Kindle. It’s concept isn’t new — it’s a wireless reading device that can hold up to 200 books, can display current newspapers and can even connect you to over 250 blogs. It’s a s thin as a pencil and only costs…$399.00!

Forgive me for saying so, but I like to be able to take my books on the train with me, throw them in my bag, hand them off to my friends when I am finished, and read them on the beach. I remember the e-reader craze of the early 2000s. They never caught on. What makes Amazon think that these e-readers will be different?

I may be old-fashioned, but I still like the idea that people can stroll into the library, produce a card they got for free, and have access to books. I like the fact that when my friend is finished with “the book that changed her life” she can hand it to me and not worry that her life-savings is suddenly in my possession.

I admit that the idea of Fringe readers downloading the latest issue to their e-reader to take... more »

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Blogging through the Culinary Underbelly


This year, for the second time in my writing life, I thought about participating in Nanowrimo.

When I did Nano before, in 2003, I wrote an awful 50,000 word genre novel. I didn’t pretend it was serious work, but I was proud of the accomplishment. There’s something intimidating about a novel–all that time, and all those words, namely–and in a month I had created one.

This year, working upwards of 60 hours a week, Nano just doesn’t seem feasible, at least if you are also trying to get some sleep.

While I spent the last week of October stressing about logistics–Could I do it? How would I carve the time out of my schedule to write? What shape would the novel I had in mind take, and how would I link its disparate pieces together?–I allowed an even larger, scarier question to form in my mind.

Was it still the best way to get my writing out there? Is the novel, in our current society, a valuable product? Is it the best use of my time, of my reach? Hardly new ideas, I know. While we’ve all been talking about print culture being dead and how no one ever buys novels anymore, we’re still... more »

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Teeth, feathers, girls, boys


A good poem from Jeannine Hall Gailey on Verse Daily this morning:

The Husband Tries to Write to the Disappearing Wife.

On her blog, Jeannine says: “This is one of the few persona poems where I tried to write in a male voice, so it was a little risky for me.”

I reckon it’s good—potentially good for the poem, most def. good for the mind—to mess around with gender in this way. Seems like, now that the distinctions between genders are blurrier than ever, it should be easier for us to do. But having tried writing from the boys’ side of things, I find it still does feel risky, or at least difficult. Brava!

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Travelling Friends


Heather’s post yesterday got me thinking about travel what it means to be open to new experiences. I spent the academic year of 2000-2001 abroad in England, and during that time I made several trips.

Perhaps the best trip I took was to Ireland, with a close friend who was also abroad on the same program. We spent a few days in Dublin, then headed to Kilkenny to spend a night. It was near Christmas, so there weren’t too many other tourists about, but in our hostel we chanced across an Australian several years older than us, who had been traveling through Europe for several months and had rented a car.

Because he exuded kindness and gentleness, the two of us decided to hitch a ride with him, just to the next city. Five days, four towns, and one Irish breakfast later, we were friends.

The Aussie and I have continued corresponding over the following years — he’s been through Europe several times, worked for the Australian government, and now is doing charitable work in Cambodia (he keeps a wonderful blog about his experiences). Although we haven’t seen each other in person, I feel like I know him, and am glad I followed my... more »

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