The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The organization WaterisLife is developing a "Drinkable Book" that not only teaches water safety but can actually be used to treat drinking water. Each page, coated in bacteria-killing silver nanoparticles, can be torn out and used as a filter. The pages, which kill bacteria that cause cholera, E.coli and typhoid, among other diseases, last up to a month each. The project's senior designer Brian Gartside tells Slate, "One of WaterisLife's biggest challenges (beyond providing clean water) is teaching proper sanitation/hygiene, so this was a perfect opportunity to not only introduce the new filters, but also to do it in a way that meaningfully addresses both problems." An initial run of 100 copies was printed in English and Swahili to be sent to Kenya, but WaterisLife also plans to distribute it around the world.
- In a book out on Tuesday, a man named Gary L. Stewart claims that his late father was the Zodiac Killer, an infamous serial killer in California in the '60s and '70s. New York Magazine says HarperCollins has worked to keep the contents of The Most Dangerous Animal of All under the radar for months, but HarperCollins publicist Tina Andreadis tells the magazine that there is "very clearly more than just a passing resemblance" between police drawings of the killer and Stewart's father. To put the claim in context, The Wire points out that, over the years, a surprising number of people have claimed that a friend or relative was the Zodiac Killer.
- The blog Africa Is a Country asks why so many books about Africa have orange covers with acacia trees on them, concluding, "In short, the covers of most novels 'about Africa' seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King." (If we can ditch the acacia tree cover for books about Africa, can we also retire the lady-in-a-white-dress-walking-on-the-beach cover for women's lit?)
- The blog BrainPickings features Eudora Welty's charming 1933 cover letter to The New Yorker: "For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up. As to what I might do for you — I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment."