The Frankenhand is back, and this time it’s not taking any prisoners…if they remember to plug it in. Margaret Atwood and her crew of merry techniscienticians will take another stab at getting the Frankenhand up and running. Well, writing. I guess we’ll have to wait for the one designed with legs to allow runners to compete in marathons they can’t attend before we see one up and running.
For Sunday’s event at Queen’s Park Circle, Atwood has enlisted the participation of two other writers, London adventure novelist Kate Mosse and New York historian Thomas Cahill. Atwood herself will be appearing live from Edinburgh, reading from her latest, Moral Disorder, and signing copies via LongPen, starting at 1 p.m. Mosse will be using her LongPen in London to sign paperback copies of her bestseller Labyrinth, beginning at 11 a.m., while at 3 p.m., Cahill will do the same with his newest, Mysteries of the Middle Ages, from the offices of Random House in New York. It’s being billed as “the world’s first transatlantic signing” and “the first transborder signing.”
Hearing voices in your head is so common it’s starting to be considered normal. (No, you didn’t tell me so.) (Listen, would you just shut up, I’m trying to blog here.) (Well same to you, jerkwad.)
Contrary to traditional belief, hearing voices is not necessarily a symptom of mental illness, UK researchers at Manchester University say.
Indeed, many who hear voices do not seek help and say the voices have a positive impact on their lives, comforting or inspiring them.
The key word here is “many”. (No, YOU shut up.) (Lalalala, I can’t hear you.) (I am so going to bang you on the wall in a minute…)
In honour of the Children of Hurin news, SFSignal and Backwards City point to a download of Tolkien reading and singing from his books. It’s an old vinyl ripped to mp3. Get it while it lasts.
In what many in the literary world are decrying as a violation of the sacred bond between author and readers, Benjamin Webb’s much-anticipated second novel, In Winter’s Shadow, a follow-up to his acclaimed debut Autumn’s End, has met with abject disdain from critics and readers feeling exhausted and betrayed by Webb’s tendency to “puss out” when it comes to ending the lives of any of his characters.
Bob Dylan has been nicking lines from a civil war poet no one ever heard of (Henry Timrod). This is good news for all who fear they will be forgotten — you too may benefit from some curious articles in the future when a washed up star tries to make a comeback with your words.
This isn’t the first time fans have found striking similarities between Mr. Dylan’s lyrics and the words of other writers. On his last album, “Love and Theft,” a fan spotted about a dozen passages similar to lines from “Confessions of a Yakuza,” a gangster novel written by Junichi Saga, an obscure Japanese writer. Other fans have pointed out the numerous references to lines of dialogue from movies and dramas that appear throughout Mr. Dylan’s oeuvre. Example: “Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word” echoes a line from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
This time around Scott Warmuth, a disc jockey in Albuquerque and a former music director for WUSB, a public radio station in Stony Brook, on Long Island, discovered the concordances between Mr. Dylan’s lyrics and Timrod’s poetry by doing some judicious Google searches. Mr. Warmuth said he wasn’t surprised to find that Mr. Dylan had leaned on a strong influence in writing his lyrics.
“I think that’s the way Bob Dylan has always written songs,” he said. “It’s part of the folk process, even if you look from his first album until now.”
For the record, I wanted the headline to read “Nimrod quotes Timrod”, but I realized I don’t actually disrespect Dylan so much as the army of loyal automatons who want to build a shrine to everything he does. And for some reason, I really wanted Timrod’s first name to be “Laszlo”. Alas, things can’t always be perfect.
Christopher Tolkien has fluffed out one of his father’s aborted tales and will publish it next spring as The Children of Hurin. Advance excerpts reveal a scene in which Hurin furiously rounds on his children and tells them that if they don’t shut their mealy-mouthed yaps he swears to Eru Ilúvatar he’ll turn this fucking giant eagle around and head right back to the Grey Havens, and then where will they be?
“It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father’s long version of the legend … as an independent work, between its own covers,” Christopher Tolkien said in a statement.
Yes, and that good case starts with the Elvish letters “cha” and “ching”.
I’ve already encouraged you to get Dennis Bock’s The Communist’s Daughter, in part because he’s a fantastic writer and all around dude and in part because it’s a hell of a story. Now the Globe and Mail interviews Bock about his anti-hero Bethune and his decision to return to the Second World War for another story.
Bock’s next novel will be set in the time and place he grew up — Oakville, Ont., in the 1970s — but he dismisses any suggestion it might prove autobiographical. Meanwhile, he thinks criticisms of current Canadian literature for its continued reliance on historical settings are pointless.
“It’s a ridiculous issue,” he said. “You hear it from people who don’t have the capacity to write outside their own experience. There is no Dennis Bock in this novel. For me, it’s interesting because it has nothing to do with me; it’s purely an imaginative act.”
The problem with being a guy like Bock is that after the wild success of a first novel like The Ash Garden, there is a line up of jealous folk who never made it out of the sandbox waiting to take him down a peg on the sophomore attempt. I let the book stand for itself and it blew me away.
A mysterious Olmec stone slab with writing much older than scientists (those jiggly-wiggly barrels of laughs) expected.
That premonition of a “broken” world at the end of days is something that has been making its way into popular crime fiction ever since 9/11. International thrillers responded fairly quickly, moving their operational theaters to the Middle East and retooling their plots for Islamic terrorists. Other shifts in the genre have been more subtle: an uptick in historical detective fiction, a trendy turn to metaphysical religious themes and supernatural subject matter, and a wave of nostalgia-based plots.
[Insert today's I-so-don't-care song here.]
More than 100 leading figures of literature, film and academia in India rallied this weekend against a “colonial-era” law making homosexuality a criminal offence.In an open letter, more than 100 influential signatories, including the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, the Booker prizewinner Arundhati Roy, and author Vikram Seth, said the law had been used to “systematically persecute, blackmail, arrest and terrorise sexual minorities” and had spawned intolerance.
They argued that section 377 of the Indian penal code perpetuated Victorian-era antipathy and bigotry towards gay people. “This is why we … support the overturning of [the law that criminalises] romantic love and private, consensual acts between adults of the same sex,” they said.
Questionable personal beliefs aside, I have never found the Dewey Decimal Classification system to be an accurate reflection of how books are organized in my own mind — or anybody else’s for that matter. Certainly I understand the DDC’s advantages when when it comes to large-scale collections, but if how we choose to organize our personal effects says something about who we are, then an arbitrary numeric system says very little about me. My library is, to borrow from Georges Perec, “a sum of books constituted by a non-professional reader for his own pleasure and daily use.” Perec’s definition comes from a wonderful essay of his titled, “Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books” [found here], and includes such other quoteables as “The problem of the library is shown to be towfold: a problem of space first of all, then a problem of order.” I am well aware of both.
Word is getting out that the “Sobol Award” is a big crock of separates-idiots-from-their-cash shite.
The award was set up by tech entrepreneur Gur Shomron, who said he came up with the idea after failing to find a publisher for his novel, “NETfold,” which he self-published last year.
“Nobody is looking for unsolicited manuscripts,” Shomron told Reuters. “Most famous writers are discovered by chance … I thought there should be a better way.”
Organizers promise to pick a winner who will receive $100,000 with nine other awards totaling an additional $42,000, and to seek a publishing deal for the winners.
The winner will be announced in September, 2007, and Shomron said he hopes to run the contest annually.
“We are on a treasure hunt for the undiscovered, the original,” Brigitte Weeks, editorial director of the awards and a respected industry veteran, said on the sobolaward.com Web site, where entries must be submitted.
But Robert Weil, executive editor at New York-based publisher W.W. Norton, said that despite the involvement of top industry professionals, “It sounds like a Barnum & Bailey exercise.”
The key word above is “entrepreneur”…
Hi guys. I’m coming back to Toronto for a few days this week and will read in support of my pal Matthew Zapruder’s baby (formerly the hypercool Verse Press, now) Wave Books. They’ve organized a stellar 50 day/50 city tour that includes Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. I love this kind of cross-border pollination, and it gives me a great excuse to visit and hang out with old friends from Toronto and New York. It also doesn’t hurt that Americans seem to dig and get my verse more often than Canucks, so I particularly enjoy spending time among them despite the whole cultural imperialism thing.
- Venue: The Stone’s Place, 1255 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON
- Date of Event: September 23rd
- Time of Event: 7-10 pm
- Event Ticket Price: $5.00
- Wave Books Contact: Travis Nichols, 206-676-5337,
- Performers: Lisa Fishman, Rick Meier, Joshua Beckman, Matthew Zapruder, Anthony McCann, Typing Explosion, Kate Hall, Mark Bibbins, Monica Fambrough, Kevin Connolly, Ken Babstock, Monica Youn, Damian Rogers, George Murray
I’m a big fan of Beckman’s and Zapruder’s poetry, as well as Bibbins’ and Connolly’s, so I think you’d be remiss to miss this matchup. Hope you can make it.
The distinct literary culture of Brooklyn. Of course, most of it is written in spray paint, but nonetheless.
So a new Brooklyn literature awaits, dormant in places still relatively undiscovered by gentrifiers like Sunset Park and Flatlands and Gravesend, germinating in the precincts of the new immigrants. To that end, the festival has held a competition, Secrets of the Street Lit Match, with young Brooklynites writing poems, essays and short stories capturing their lives on the streets. The winners will read on Saturday, and their work will be printed in a book by the festival and Akashic.
There’s an ungentrified part of Brooklyn? Hm. Oh, you mean, “Brooklyn”, not Brooklyn.
Apparently JK doesn’t believe in backing up her data. When she recently tried to board an airplane while clutching a mess of handwritten manuscript pages, the security people wanted her to check it. She begged and pleaded and got to take it on board. Her hair gel and makeup, however, were consigned to the dustbin, and lo and behold, she’s actually quite pretty. As noted in the article, I can’t imagine her publisher is too happy about her having only one copy of the world’s most important book seven. I can just hear the board room discussion now. “She’s close enough to finished that she’s become a liability to the project. We must erase her and shepherd the manuscript to publication ourselves. Lydia, get me Gary Oldman on line two.” Gosh, I hope Matt Damon is free to protect her or we might never find out who she plans to off.
This interview with Frey is part of a chagrinned trend we’re seeing lately as the mob calms down, wipes the blood from its lips and begins to see what it’s become….
Our increased appetite for non-fiction is a crucial factor in both the inception of A Million Little Pieces and the subsequent persecution of James Frey – a persecution that seems particularly vicious when you consider that a man who is known to have manipulated the story of his own past is allowed to occupy the White House. Arguably, our recent desire for facts is an indication that we are recoiling from a culture that has grown increasingly synthetic. Perhaps it’s not entirely unconnected that, in a period of enormous political uncertainty, the bestselling publications at the newsagent are reality magazines, and that documentary films are shown at the multiplex and non-fiction flies off the shelves. In this climate, the discovery that what appeared to be still-bloody fact was in truth a “manipulated text”, as Frey terms it, proved deeply unsettling to many. “I think a lot of it had to do with what was happening and is still happening in our country, y’know?” he says. “People feel frustrated by a lot of distortions by politicians, by members of the media, by movie stars, by tabloid journalists, and it was like a sorta confluence of events that I happened to be in the middle of.”
See, if we’d burned him like I said, instead of stoning him, we wouldn’t be haunted by the guilt of burying a battered corpse. Next time, listen to the pros on this, people.
I’m so sure I don’t care it isn’t even funny. I don’t care like penguins don’t fly. I don’t care like observant Jews don’t eat pork. I don’t care like Britney don’t use birth control. I don’t care like George W don’t care about black people. I don’t care like Journey don’t stop believin’. I don’t care like Tom Cruise don’t use prozac even though he needs to. I don’t care like Dylan the pickle don’t go gentle into that good night. I don’t care enough to think up any more of these.
A roundup. A lot of hubbub about the new people on the list and those left off. Go Sarah!
Announced! OMFG! I am so happy I’m crying tears of lemonade and rainbows!!
Now THAT’s sarcasm.
Google, continuing to do no evil that we know of, offers a selection of 42 oft banned books for your perusal and exploration.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Mice and Men. The Great Gatsby. 1984. It’s hard to imagine a world without these extraordinary literary classics, but every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove great books from libraries and schools. In fact, according to the American Library Association, 42 of 100 books recognized by the Radcliffe Publishing Course as the best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned.
Google Book Search is our effort to expand the universe of books you can discover, and this year we’re joining libraries and bookstores across the country to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week – a nationwide initiative to help people learn about and explore banned books. You can start by browsing these 42 classics – books we couldn’t be more pleased to highlight.
Garsh. They’re such a cute megacorp. I just want to hug their stock or their IPO or their GDP or something else that I don’t know what it means but might be profitable…
All that stands between fascism and you is your local librarian. Give her a hug today. But if she looks like Lisa Loeb, let me hug her instead.
Courage, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And in an era of increasing controls on the gathering and dissemination of information, many Americans are unaware of the courageous stands librarians take every day.
The day-to-day challenges librarians face are inherent in the job description: defending access to controversial or banned books, staving off budget cuts, and creating and expanding programs to draw more citizens into one of the few remaining genuinely public commons in American life. While the ethic of secrecy often prevails in the gathering and dissemination of corporate and governmental information, the work of a librarian is imbued with just the opposite. Be it in the capacity of archivist, reference librarian or information technology professional, a common thread is the profession’s dogged commitment to safeguarding books, research and information to make knowledge more widespread, not less.
Seriously, they should add an extra Nobel category for freedom of speech.
Some excerpts from the late Sontag’s journals that show her journey into self-awareness and writing.
On Keeping a Journal. Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptacle for one’s private, secret thoughts – like a confidante who is deaf, dumb and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.
The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather – in many cases – offers an alternative to it.
An interesting article on military.com about why the US government shouldn’t eliminate subjects like English and History from officer training graduate degress. Well, see, we need them out in the field as soon as possible because, you know, we have to feed the US military industrial meatgrinder complex.
Cutting out MAs in English and History for the Navy and Marine Corps is a small step, to be sure, but it’s a step in the wrong direction, and it shows a dangerous mind-set. Instead of less knowledge of how people have processed history and current events, we need more. And then we need the brass to listen when the Marine Captain with the MA in English talks about books like this.
No, not everybody has to have done the reading. But somebody has to have. And then we have to listen to them.
It’s like when I see an article that shows a church doing something progressive and/or
thoughtful instead of merely screaming and condemning. I get all misty and wistful.
This new literary award, which charges $85 to get in but promises $100G to the winner as well as several runners-up prizes, does sound terribly suspicious. But a lawyer assures me it’s not. Hm. I’m conflicted. On one hand I have my innate distrust of literary prizes, especially those with an entrance fee (usual maxing out at $20, btw) and on the other I have my innate distrust of lawyers. Oh, wait. I’m not conflicted. If you submit to this, yer a suckah and deserve to lose your money.
Scott McLemee looks at the venerable history of marking up your books at Inside Higher Ed.
According to Anthony Grafton, a professor of history at Princeton University, there was a time when the proper method for annotating was a basic skill taught in the classroom. (I forget where he discusses this, but can recommend The Footnote or Bring Out Your Dead to anyone unfamiliar with Grafton’s work.) During the Renaissance, the senior scholar would provide guidance on what marginal references should be added to one’s edition of Aristotle, or whatever the text for the class might be.
This was not a matter of whim or individual expressiveness. There were systems for doing it properly. Upon ripening in erudition, you could presumably be trusted to go solo. It helped that, for a long time, a reader could order a new volume from the bookseller with blank pages sewn into it at various points. (This was a standard option in the 18th century, and I’ve seen some 19th century volumes similarly customized.)
Today, of course, annotation is entirely a matter of personal preference. Any method for doing it is bound to be the product of improvisation. My own system, for what it’s worth, has become ever simpler and more efficient over time.
Of course, not all marginalia is so earnestly intended. There is the occasional masturbatory fantasy about Jane Eyre…. Or maybe that was in earnest. You really never know with these grad student types. (Second link from Maud)
That literary hoaxer Laura Albert is shopping her memoirs, largely based on her stint as JT Leroy. I can’t imagine anyone is interested. And by that, I mean readers. But publishing at that level is such an ugly business, what with all the mad shrieking and scrambling for pennies and cigarette butts on the floor. Here’s hoping whoever buys it takes a shot in the financial nads.
Günter Grass says he just needed time to reflect and come to grips with his 17-year-old self before broadcasting it to the world. Hell, I can’t come to grips with my 17-year-old self and I was just a loser, not a Nazi.
“People can criticise and that is something I have to accept. But I also reserve for myself the right to keep certain questions to myself until I find a way to express them,” he said.
“I have not said anything false.”
“Some people have tried to use this to wipe me out as a political citizen and say I must now keep my mouth shut. That is stupid.”
The world would be a poorer place indeed without Grass as a political citizen.
Whenever Roald Dahl’s stories come into a conversation, someone will mention, with laughter and a kind of horrified amazement, “William and Mary”, in which the brain and single, lidless eye of a once-domineering, tobacco-hating husband are experimentally preserved with the help of an early life-support invention. Visiting William in the lab, his widow-wife, Mary, lights a cigarette and blows smoke into his furious eye. “I just can’t wait to get him home,” she says. Over the 45 years of his career as a writer, Dahl’s fictions changed in tone, subject and audience, but the points of view of both characters in “William and Mary” typify his approach. The writer’s stare is unblinking, and most of his tales are irritants, provocations. Fantastic as Grimm, neat as O Henry, heartless as Saki, they stick in the mind long after subtler ones have faded: incredible (literally), unforgettable and vengefully funny.
Of course, as with every Giller list, there are notable absences, including former Giller winner Margaret Atwood (whose Moral Disorder has just been published) and Michael Redhill, whose first novel, Martin Sloane, was short-listed for the 2001 Giller but whose second, Consolation, out now, didn’t get a nod. Also bypassed are Madeleine Thien, whose first novel, Certainty, was published to acclaim in April, and Dennis Bock for his second novel, The Communist’s Daughter.
Publishers can decline to submit a title for consideration, and McClelland & Stewart, Atwood’s publisher, did so at the author’s request. (Atwood won the 1996 Giller for her novel Alias Grace.) Doubleday reportedly did the same for When She Was Queen by two-time Giller winner M.J. Vassanji.
I’m dismayed that Consolation and The Communist’s Daughter aren’t on that list. They are both great novels that should enjoy a wide audience and the benefit of any award list smart enough to have them on.
There are many different kinds of fiction. There is a kind of restrained style of fiction, and then there is the kind that likes to run around and bare its chest, have a drink and talk to girls. That’s the kind of fiction I write. But there’s room for both.
Next is a quieter book. I want to calm down a bit, because I feel like I am singing in the same register for too many times in a row. I want to do something more contemplative and more paced.
A one-act called The Cooing of the Doves, by late great Irishman Sean O’Casey (are we sure he’s Irish?), has resurfaced and been donated to Princeton where Paul Muldoon is happy to have it ’round.
An auction of Agatha Christie goodies totally outstripped dealer estimates as people went nuts with the credit card. Good old Agatha. The world’s most successful serial killer.
Okay, you just have to read this. This woman has more than one DNA type in her body and it almost cost her her children. She has an extremely rare condition known as Chimerism. She’s HER OWN TWIN! I’d be scrubbing myself to get my microscopic me siblings out, dudes.
Google is getting into the news archive business, offering search results stretching back 200 years. Just enough time to find out when I was in shape and didn’t hurt after a Judo class. Of course, not all people think Google is so altruistic…
Slate asks whether art has helped make sense of the post 9/11 world. My favourite answer is from Pinsky, who starts with this, then works in The Simpsons later on:
The political exploitation of 9/11, the volume of slogans and spinning, has been almost deafening. The cultural opportunism, too, has been loud. Like many people, I find it hard to think about fundamental questions. How much does life go on as always, and how much is life changed forever?
Meme Therapy asks a bunch of scifi authors “Have you ever taken perverse pleasure in killing a character off in your writing? If so which one of your characters did you enjoy killing the most?”
Like you’ve never seen him before! Oh, wait. Scratch that. Like you see him portrayed all the time. I already knew Hughes was a man of his day and, in that, despicable. But reading this just reminds me that he liked his women batshit crazy.
A comic book reinterpretation of the 9/11 commission report has people talking. Of course, they can only say as much as fits in their speech bubbles in those little panels, so….
“It [the events of September 11, 2001] was, from the start, a comic book catastrophe.”
Keller continues, “Planes piercing tall buildings; thousands of confused people trapped and desperate; stunned bureaucrats scrambling for an informational toehold – it seemed like a dramatic climax out of Action Comics No. 47 . . . Superman and the Fantastic Four and all the rest of them.”
It’s a big year, so the Giller’s have decided to go with a long list. There are some names I’d expect to be on this that aren’t. And some that make me go, WTF? Some nice people who deserve the attention, and some complete dickheads who just can’t get enough. Ah, the literary world.
I bet a Bookninja ad would have been cheaper. Of course, your audience would have to have to stumble across the site while googling something other than “bikini NASCAR hos”… Brad Meltzer, a bastion of literary talent and taste, is the first author to advertise a book on the hood of a NASCAR. It fits right in between STP and the GOP. The Left Behind nutbars are cursing the lack of foresight. Next up, Meltzer buys space on Pamela Anderson’s chest. (Given the play between supply and demand, it’s surprisingly affordable.)
9/11 is to blame for the death of fiction too? Gawd! Fucking terrorists have already won!
Rosenbloom says September 11 intensified public interest in nonfiction, and hastened the decline of literary and escapist fiction: “I think literary fiction is struggling because of the new reality that September 11 ushered in. The public realises that we are engaged in a protracted struggle with fanatics who will probably cause massive damage at home. I think the reading public has lost patience with, and is irritated by, old-fashioned escapist fiction. It has lost patience with literary fiction. It has lost patience with fiction that doesn’t engage with the world.”
You mean this stuff will be sticking around forever?!? Eeep! The wonderous Maud points to an article on the National Library of Scotland’s (hey, is Scotland allowed to have a “national” anything? Ouch!) plan to archive the blogs of leading Scots.
#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo
#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
# 7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act
#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
#10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians
And it goes on from there. Eeesh.
Those psychopaths behind the Left Behind series of Xtian snuff novels have made a video game of it. Now your kids can explode the eyes of others in the name of Jesus. I guess it beats exploding them in the name of bragging rights on Quake Arena. But just barely.
Novelist Susan Hill is freaking out about libraries, which she accuses of hating books.
The bestselling novelist Susan Hill yesterday accused senior managers of public libraries of abandoning their commitment to books and manoeuvring to turn library buildings into social centres.
“They have been actively trying for years to get rid of books and introduce almost anything else,” she said.
This is a natural evolution. It’s all part of the coming singularity in which Starbucks and Indigo will merge and give up selling both coffee and books in favour of a wide range of scented trinkets scattered among leather couches. You’ll soon be paying a cover to get in. Books are so 1440s.
The New Yorker editor profiled in the Guardian.
Yet how can Remnick’s editorial strategy be considered inevitable when no one else is doing what he does? However frequently Graydon Carter may address the bungles of the Bush administration in his letters from the editor in Vanity Fair, he feels compelled, more often than not, to feature a cover star in a bikini. Meanwhile, on another floor of the Conde Nast building, the New Yorker puts Seymour Hersh’s investigations of national security on the cover and has the highest subscription renewal rate of any magazine in the country. It has a circulation of over 1m, and although it is privately owned and such figures are not publicly available, it is thought to be turning a profit of around $10m.
Even with five years’ distance from the attacks, to imagine New Yorkers experiencing happiness on that terrible day still seems like an act of minor treason. In the collective soul-searching among writers and critics in the months following 9/11, there was, for a time, a prevailing sense that the attacks defied explanation or examination aside from the most literal — newspaper accounts and the 9/11 Commission Report. There was the official censure of criticism — comedian and Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher was fired by ABC after he questioned the bravery of the U.S. administration, for “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.” But even worse, there was a kind of glum suspicion that art might be altogether irrelevant.
It’s one thing to get invited to a reading group to speak… it’s another entirely to get won by that group in a contest.
They used to mine iron ore round here, and there were coalmines nearby, in the Vale of Belvoir, until the 1980s. Now the area is known mainly for pork pies and Stilton cheese. “The industries are related,” says Sue. “The pigs are fed on the whey, which is a byproduct of cheese-making.”
Sue is a farmer, part-time community physiotherapist, and member of the Goadby Marwood parish reading group. They have won the Penguin/Orange readers’ group prize for 2006 – and I am their prize.
The reading group’s members come from seven small Leicestershire villages – Chadwell, Eaton, Eastwell, Goadby Marwood, Scalford, Wycomb and Waltham-in-the-Wold. “It would be unbelievable if the group were to meet an author,” they wrote in their winning entry, “the area being a real rural backwater – it is just not the sort of thing that ever happens.”
Ding ding ding-ding, ding-ding, ding-ding, diiinnnnggg. (Goes the banjo from Deliverance)