Something something blog awards something. What else are you going to do with your afternoon?
Reader F sends in this piece on the meticulous notes the Unabomber kept during his nutbar life, and wonders, rather sassily, whether "Judith Regan can salvage her career by negotiating a book deal…" Oh, F, you saucy monkey!
The top 10 lists and best ofs should be coming hard and fast as of tomorrow.
Founded last November by the poet laureate, Andrew Motion, and the recording producer Richard Carrington, the Poetry Archive is the world's foremost collection of recordings of poets reading their work. It was set up both to rediscover and preserve old poetry recordings, and to record the voices of contemporary poets, from Margaret Atwood to Don Paterson. In the space of a year it has developed a substantial following, receiving more than 500,000 visitors in just 12 months.
Nick Seddon accepted a challenge to learn, by heart, 100 poems this year. Which 100 would you learn if you were doing it?
When this summer I accepted the madcap challenge to learn 100 poems in a year, I certainly didn't imagine it would be a life-changing experience. Indeed, having never attempted anything remotely like this before – I got all the way through school and university without learning a single poem – I'm not really sure what I expected at all.
OK, I'll admit I rather liked the idea of taking poems into my mind as one might pluck apples from a tree, a sort of intellectual kleptomania. And because it was conceived of as a race, I guess there was also a tinge of macho competitiveness. And yes, I suppose it did cross my mind that reciting poetry would be a sly way to seduce the ladies.
But those shady motives feel rather redundant now. Six months ago a friend and I drew up a list of our favourite poems and having been going strong ever since. I am half way through, but I'm no longer doing this simply because I want to reach the end point. It's been all about falling in love with poetry again, and discovering it as if for the first time.
Who's in with me on this?
It's seldom that you see an essay on one of the great living American poets begin with a joke about George Clooney being offered a blow job, but I don't know that it's entirely out of place. Maud points to the Virginia Quarterly Review essay on Mark Strand.
Even in an age so densely populated with poets, few escape anonymity, and those who do usually escape into a life as the circus animal of some university’s English department. A few of these poets, such as Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, or Ted Kooser, even sell a hundred thousand copies of their books. But Mark Strand embodies a different sort of “celebrity.”
After all, how many contemporary poets are reviewed in the pages of Elle (where Blizzard of One was praised as a “beautifully wrought collection of poems”)? Good luck finding Kooser’s name in Liz Smith’s gossip column, or Collins’s among the elite of the New York art world. Elsewhere, a former colleague at the University of Chicago writes, “He’s also deadly handsome, tall and rugged; classic good looks. If God were to put an instrument on earth to make women suffer, Strand is it.” (As if his Pulitzer were not enough . . .) Not only do Strand’s poems, stories, and reviews appear frequently in The New Yorker, but the magazine also made his film debut (in Ethan Hawke’s Chelsea Walls) the subject of a “Talk of the Town” piece.
It is strange, then, that most critical responses to Strand’s work have emphasized his evacuation of the self.
(One of the greatest moments of my relatively young poetry career has to have been when I was favorably compared to Mark Strand in a review. Such are the things we cling to in dark nights of self-doubt.)
The bad sex in fiction goes to first time author Iain Hollingshead. It's nice to see the little guys getting some attention. Here, the winner considers his good fortune:
Apparently, the judges wriggled with mirth at the image of "bulging trousers". I don't blame them. Shamefully, it could have been even worse.
I struck out an entire extra page of the scene after a friend read the draft and said she would never look at me in the same way again. Self-editing came into play. What would my ex-girlfriends think? Or my parents?
There was still the damage limitation of victory to consider. Could I pass the whole thing off as a pastiche? Or pretend, as I'm sure some writers have done, that I wrote the passage intending to get nominated?
Comic book artist who recreated and popularized the X-men, dead at 63. Other than the irony of being one of the few who lifted Marvel out of the toilet, I can't understand why they're making such a big deal of him dying while draped in DC merch. How about focusing on something important when you're summarizing a guy's life for a 300 word article?
The writing was on the wall for Annex Books when "my long-suffering landlady came and hinted it was time to raise my rent," owner Janet Inksetter said. "I went into panic mode because I'm at the end of my limit for expenses. It clarified things for me."
In the tiny but well-organized store with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, you can see the length and breadth of Canada's literary and publishing history. All the best dead authors are there in vintage editions, from Susanna Moodie, Mazo de la Roche, John Glassco and Irving Layton to Hugh MacLennan and Charles Ritchie, along with many other writers still living. "People used to come in and browse. That doesn't happen so much any more," Inksetter said. "They come in looking for a specific book. If I don't have it, they don't go to the shelves."
Thanks again, Janet!
Baronessa Beatrice Monti della Corte von Rezzori is one of the world's last remaining patrons of writers. She invites people she thinks will be successful to stay in her Tuscany palace and let's them write. Their payback? They have to have lunch and dinner with her and be smart. Sounds sweet. Benjamin Kunkel, however, abruptly left and she's a little stung.
What makes Kunkel’s premature departure particularly troubling is the fact that, at 80, the baronessa is determined to spin her creative Utopia into her legacy, a gift to literature not to be taken lightly. She’s wealthy, but she’s not rich; Santa Maddalena has no endowment, and though a university might swoop in, its future is uncertain. And so the idea that one of her progeny might be perfectly happy to get on with other matters in his life has her piqued. There must be some face-saving way to account for his change of plans. Yes—in a Kafkaesque turn, actual bugs have gotten in the way of Kunkel’s metaphoric ones. “Benjamin comes with one red dot, and he says, ‘What is it?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know—the bite of a mosquito!’ He is charming. I like him. Very intelligent. But for a young man like that, he has”—a bemused shake of the head—“a mania.”
This sets up an article on the Baronessa's life of literary luxury. Hard to take when you're working freelance. But it's nice to know someone's getting pampered. (From Maud)
Pulitzer is waking up to the online revolution (or, "r3\/0Lu710|\|", as it were) and allowing more e-media to be submitted for consideration.
The prizes formerly known as the Whitbreads have had their shortlists announced. Heaney is there and could win for a record third time, but besides the usual literary fare, there's also a couple more popular books. Is this a signal of shift in interest?
The Literary Review Bad Sex Awards are being given out. I'm waiting for the follow-up prize the Bad Gender Awards. Should be a hoot.
The Nobel brings with it buckets of money, whereas for the Pulitzer, all the winner gets is a certificate, dinner and a $10,000 honorarium that's a drop in the bucket compared with the Nobel's million-dollar-plus cash prize. When I was a finalist, I got a letter, two sentences long, on Columbia University stationery (no certificate, no dinner), but on every subsequent novel I write, my publishers can print "Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize" under my name on the cover. And guess what? This sells books (if only a couple).
The National Book Award is regarded by many as the mother of the homegrown prizes. Nominees in four categories are chosen by panels of their peers (novelists judge novelists), cash is awarded, and the nominated books get nifty silver decals, which sell more books.
Mon…ney? What is this "mon-ney" of which you speak? Is this the same as that dirty paper and metal discs they give you for selling the hours of your life at a dayjob that you can exchange for the bare essentials of shelter and sustenance? Surely no one gets "mon-ney" for writing a book… What a world we live in.
When going up against an utterly foreign, inexplicable enemy, it's good to have a hearty group of friends at your back. And thus the Finnegan's Wake Society meets monthly in NYC to tackle the book one page at a time. This guy's apartment is about to get a whole lot more crowded.
Richard Gere will take some time out from pretending to be Buddhist this Thursday by reading poems written by prisoners at the New School. That is to say poems written by prisoners will be read at the New School….
I, like GWB, use the Google on occasion. However, I mostly don't use it to look up NASCAR stats or trawl Wikipedia in a late night cramming session the day before visiting Whateversnextistan. Mostly. I will likely use it to find quotes and read passages, if not entire texts, from the books they're scanning in. But in the corporate world of which our Don't Be Evil wunderkinder are part, everything needs to be "monetized". So when you look up Moby Dick, if you're in Asia you'll get ads for one thing with your text and in American you'll get ads for Viagra.
Jeanneney's concerns are simply business. Nothing personal, jingoistic or anti-American, he explains. Happily, they're also straightforwardly ideological: Capitalism shouldn't run culture, and government should intervene in the market because, as de Gaulle once observed, it "creates injustices, establishes monopolies, [and] favors cheaters."
And so we get a take on world Googlization you're not likely to get from your broker.
Backwards City points to The Rake, who has caught Dave Eggers out on some David Foster Wallace flip-flopping. His first review of Infinite Jest was a major pan, but now, years later, he praises him highly in a forward to the same book. Change in taste or, as has been suggested, change in status?
"Infinite Jest" also ends abruptly, leaving as many questions unanswered as does Jim's suicide. Like his alter ego's experimental films, the book seems like an exercise in what one gifted artist can produce without the hindrance of an editor. Subsequently, it's also an exercise in whether or not such a work can sustain a reader's interest for more than 1,000 pages and thus find an audience outside academia. Wallace's take on that can be found in the book's apt title. It's an endless joke on somebody.
(We will leave aside the hilarity of Mr. E—– making an oblique dig at someone for operating without the "hindrance of an editor," as much as it pains me.)
Anyway, let's take a look at that brand spankin' new forward again, as Mr. E—– (ca. 2006) returns ten years later to praise Infinite Jest to the high heavens.
David Foster Wallace has long straddled the worlds of difficult and not-as-difficult, with most readers agreeing that his essays are easier to read than his fiction, and his journalism most accessible of all. But while much of his work is challenging, his tone, in whatever form he’s exploring, is rigorously unpretentious.
Well, "rigorously unpretentious" (2006) isn't exactly the same thing as being full of "superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea" (1996), now is it? But let's keep going:
The book is 1,067 pages long and there is not one lazy sentence. The book is drum-tight and relentlessly smart and, though it does not wear its heart on its sleeve, it’s deeply felt and incredibly moving.
A contest to put poetry on Kelowna, BC buses resulted in a deluge of submissions, mostly from working, class regular folk. Including a pair of married (to each other) electricians who ended up with five accepted poems between them.
I wondered what people who worked on construction sites thought about life, and their jobs, when they weren't busy pounding nails. How does a phlebotomist cope with sticking needles and drawing blood from sick people, all day, all night? What is the feeling of working as a care aide in a seniors' home, when all their patients think they're going home? What does the flag person think? Has anyone ever asked?
B.C. Transit supported the project and a contest was developed that invited workers to take some time out from their busy jobs, and write. Ordinary poems for ordinary people, set at the scale at which the majority of people live.
In the NYRB, Margaret extols the virtues of Richard.
So if he's so good, why isn't he better known? Let me put it another way —why haven't his books won more medals? It's as if juries have recognized the prodigious talent, the impressive achievement, and have put him onto short lists, but then have drawn back, as if they've suddenly felt that they might be giving an award to somebody not quite human—to Mr. Spock of Star Trek, for instance. He's got a Vulcan mind-meld on the critics, all right, but could it be that he's just not cozy enough at the core—that he's too challenging, or daunting, or— dread word—too bleak?
On the other hand, there are books you read once and there are other books you read more than once because they are so flavorful, and then there are yet other books that you have to read more than once. Powers is in the third category: the second time through is necessary to pick up all the hidden treasure-hunt clues you might have missed on your first gallop through the plot. You do gallop, because Powers can plot. Of some books you don't ask How will it all turn out? since that isn't the point. It's certainly part of the point with Powers. Only part, however.
If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century, which writer would he be? He'd probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick.
“What worries me the most is that the impulse behind the replacement of paper-and-ink collections by a virtual collection is not an intellectual or even scientific impulse,” he says. “It is a purely material one that benefits the creators of the electronic media, who are making a fortune by inventing for us a fear of the fragility of paper, and laying no stress on the fragility of the electronic media. We don’t know how long memory sticks or CDs will last. We do know that books last for thousands of years.”
Actually, we do know. And it isn't very long. Every time you use a Sharpie to write on a CD label, you're destroying your data. The ink and glue will seep through the plastic. Every time a file is copied from one drive to another, it loses integrity. And even though I love them dearly, I wouldn't trust a Flash stick for more than a few years, max. Some predict there's a coming data extinction. So it comes down to a choice of sacrifices: trees or what you write.
What a sordid saga. The Star is back in the spotlight for conflict of interest reviews (remember McLaren and Bigge?) A reviewer who panned a book by Cormorant was outed by Cormorant editor Mark Cote as a rejectee from the Cormorant slush pile. Should said reviewer have been ineligible as a reviewer of Cormorant titles?
What is not written sometimes matters more than what does appear in print.
This was true of an Oct. 22 review of Carol Windley's Home Schooling, one of five finalists for the Giller Award, Canada's richest fiction prize.
Readers were not told that an earlier book of her short stories, Visible Light, was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in 1993, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in British Columbia and that it won the Bumbershoot/Weyerhaeuser Publication Award.
A household name she may not be, but Windley's work has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards and nominations.
The reviewer was unfamiliar with her work and bluntly said so. He was also critical of her book. Fair enough. But his failure to mention her 1993 nomination for the Governor General's Literary Award and make at least passing reference to other nominations was unfair to Windley and misled readers about her stature as a writer.The information was included in a press release from Cormorant Books Inc. and on the book's jacket.
Cormorant Books had also rejected a novel by the review writer, Len Gasparini, in January of this year, publisher Marc Côté wrote in a letter to the Star.
This was a conflict of interest that should have been declared and shared with readers.
Where do you see the lines being drawn in our wee hermetic universe? I know I can have beers with someone and still praise or trash their book. Whether they want to have beers with me after is up to them. I consider my social and intellectual worlds to be totally separate. Of course, I am not going to write a glowing review of my best pal's book in a serious article, but I can certainly say who I favour and don't based on the quality of their work, which I hope is separate from the person him/herself.
The fall issue of Saskatoon-based BlackFlash magazine, a small-circulation tri-yearly about photo-based digital and electronic art, should finally be on Canadian newsstands and in the hands of subscribers in the next few days — two months later than scheduled and minus seven illustrations its editors planned to include in an article about childhood sexuality and child pornography.
In what BlackFlash managing editor Lissa Robinson calls "an act of self-censorship," the magazine's six-member editorial committee agreed earlier this month to eliminate the reproductions of two 19th-century paintings of children, four photographs, including one 1879 pre-pubescent nude study by Alice in Wonderland creator Charles Dodgson, and a 1995 advertisement for Calvin Klein clothing. The decision came after a time-consuming search failed to turn up a printer willing to risk a test of the Child Pornography Act passed in July, 2005. The debate over the images also resulted in the resignations of four members of BlackFlash's volunteer board of directors.
The actions highlight what critics call "the lack of clarity" in the controversial act and its "overall chilling effect" on artists and arts organizations in particular.
Why are so many people buying a primer on Latin? It tickles me that the answer to this boils down to "zeitgeist".
Mehercule! As you almost certainly wouldn't exclaim. It's true: there are people out there masochistic enough to put themselves through the passive periphrastic and hic, haec, hoc
A clue to a reason for the success of Amo, Amas, Amat is also provided by Amazon, which has nominated as the volume's "perfect partner" Beyond Words, John Humphrys' cross book about the use of English in today's degenerate world. In other words, Amo, Amas, Amat is, broadly, part of the Eats, Shoots and Leaves phenomenon and thus falls into the category of books that are ostensibly cris de coeur for the correct use of the apostrophe, say, while really, deep down, betraying a sort of posh anxiety about standards in society generally.
Alternate headlines: "Dead tongue takes licking, keeps on sic-ing", "Dead language speaks to people", "Es-yay to the Atin-lay", "The root of apathy can be found in Latin", "Yaaaaawwwnnnn".
You never know if you're going to get dust bunnies, or bodies. Yeesh.
High-octane book launches are on their way back, esp at Penguin where Steve Myers is getting crazygonuts. First was Craig Davison getting his ass kicked by Michael Knox and now there's a drinking contest. Usually these things are reversed. Even Marchand is charmed and having fun.
Score one for Myers's attempt to "inject life" into a hallowed publishing tradition: the launch party. It is not unprecedented. The late Jack McClelland, of McClelland & Stewart, was famous for some of his stunts.
In the 1990s, Cynthia Good, then president and publisher of Penguin Canada, was also responsible for some memorable launch parties. She remembers with particular fondness the launch of Stompin' Tom Connors' 1995 memoir Stompin' Tom: Before the Fame, held at the Matador Club. Lobster was flown in from the East Coast. Roast beef represented other regions of the country."There was just a quality about it that was extraordinary," Good recalls. "At the time it was rare to see Tom in person. And there he was with his board and his boots. He insisted on little Canadian flags being handed out and we all held our flags and sang `O Canada.' It brought me close to tears."In more recent times, launch parties for published books have generally been low-key affairs — when they've been held at all.
It's true. M&S didn't even have a launch for us (that season of poetry books) in spring 2003. I know you don't get much press out of it when you rent a hall at U of T and lay out a few crackers and cheese, but when else are you going to sell 75 copies of a book of poetry in one afternoon? Bravo to Myers for all his crazy, fucked up ideas. But dude, if you ever end up my publicist, I am going into hiding. (Thanks, SB)
The Empire portrayed in Asimov's novels is in turmoil – he cited Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as an influence. Beset by overconsumption, corruption and inefficiency, "it had been falling for centuries before one man really became aware of that fall. That man was Hari Seldon, the man who represented the one spark of creative effort left among the gathering decay. He developed and brought to its highest pitch the science of psycho-history."
Seldon is a scientist and prophet who predicts the Empire's fall. He sets up his Foundation in a remote corner of the galaxy, hoping to build a new civilisation from the ruins of the old. The Empire attacks the Foundation with all its military arsenal and tries to crush it. Seldon uses a religion (based on scientific illusionism) to further his aims. These are tracked by the novel and its sequels across a vast tract of time. For the most part, his predictions come true.
Seldon, like Bin Laden, transmits videotaped messages for his followers, recorded in advance. There is also some similarity in geopolitical strategy. Seldon's vision seems oddly like the way Bin Laden has conceived his campaign. "Psycho-history" is the statistical treatment of the actions of large populations across epochal periods – the science of mobs as Asimov calls it. "Hari Seldon plotted the social and economic trends of the time, sighted along curves and foresaw the continuing and accelerating fall of civilisation."
More quiz, this time on book titles, from the NYT.
The Archimedes Palimpsest, sold at auction at Christie’s for $2 million in 1998, is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the great Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedes’ work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering tantalizing and fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy.
The palimpsest is believed to have been created by Byzantine monks in the 13th century, probably in Constantinople. As was the practice then, the durable and valuable vellum pages of several older texts were washed and scraped, to remove their writing, and then used for a medieval prayer book. The pages of the older books became the sheaths of a newer one, thus a palimpsest (which is pronounced PAL-imp-sest and is Greek for “rubbed again”).
Guys, was there a single one of you who needed a pronunciation guide for a word with a phonetic spelling identical to it's actual spelling? Just asking. 'Cause I suspect this inclusion is related to the fact that, in America, Kraft cheese slices have a laser etching of the words "Open Here" on the plastic flap — right at the only place you can actually open the damn thing. Just a theory.
When I came to write Atonement, my father's stories, with automatic ease, dictated the structure; after I finished the opening section, set in 1935, Dunkirk would have to be followed by the reconstruction of a 1940 London hospital. It is an eerie, intrusive matter, inserting imaginary characters into actual historical events. A certain freedom is suddenly compromised; as one crosses and re-crosses the lines between fantasy and the historical record, one feels a weighty obligation to strict accuracy. In writing about wartime especially, it seems like a form of respect for the suffering of a generation wrenched from their ordinary lives to be conscripted into a nightmare.
The writer of a historical novel may resent his dependence on the written record, on memoirs and eyewitness accounts, in other words on other writers, but there is no escape: Dunkirk or a wartime hospital can be novelistically realised, but they cannot be re-invented. I was particularly fascinated by the telling detail, or the visually rich episode that projected unspoken emotion. In the Dunkirk histories I found an account of a French cavalry officer walking down a line of horses, shooting each one in turn through the head. The idea was to prevent anything useful falling into the hands of the advancing Germans. Strangely, and for exactly the same reason, near Dunkirk beach, a padre helped by a few soldiers burned a pile of King James bibles. I included my father's story of the near-lynching of an RAF clerk, blamed by furious soldiers for the lack of air support during the retreat. Though I placed my imagined characters in front of these scenes, it was enormously important to me that they actually happened.
This is finally the thing young girls need. A comic book series called "Minx" populated with anorexic, flawless-skinned rich kids with impossibly large mouths and eyes.
Teenage girls, Ms. Berger said, are smart and sophisticated and “about more than going out with the cute guy. This line of books gives them something to read that honors that intelligence and assertiveness and that individuality.”
Each book comes with a noose and instructions for fashioning a personal gallows out of a basement rafter – you know, for when you realize the above statement was a lie created by a bunch of male execs at a board table in a part of the office tower you can't reach because your cheeks got smooshed on the glass ceiling when you tried to get up the stairs to bring them coffee. Way to break the mould, D.C.!
In person, too, Gallant is like quicksilver, sly and fast and unpredictable. Her age, bearing and high literary reputation peg her as reserved. But she has an actor's delight in public performance and is a dead-on mimic for the accents sprinkled through some of her stories and her anecdotes. (Sixty years after working in a Montreal newsroom, she can still bark like a city editor: “Gallant, where the hell were ya?”) She carries into every encounter a reputation of ruthlessness, of one who doesn't suffer fools at all — gladly or otherwise. But she chuckles at the idea that she could intimidate anyone and comes off as open and generous. When an interview scheduled for 30 minutes — “she tires easily,” warned the publicist for The New York Review of Books, which had co-produced the Symphony Space evening — runs overtime, Gallant insists she is fine and proceeds to chat for another hour, until she must leave for dinner.
Some people think the bruhaha is overblown and that the book was a good idea. And here I thought the only ones who could love this project were the parents of that skeez Judith Regan. (Thanks, F)
Isn't this the point at which we should all shout, "Hallelujah"? Instead, of course, rising public outrage at what is labeled a commercial stunt prompts News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, who surely knew about all the various machinations in advance, and has never before shown himself to be burdened with a conscience, to cancel publication, pledge to pulp the books, and pull the plug on the TV interview.
Well, mostly they listen to people chatting on CBC, but we're assuming at least a few of them go on to read the books. Lots of musicians on the panel and some great titles up for Canada Reads. We at Bookninja will be heartily cheering for Timothy Taylor.
Dudes, it's too early on a Monday for me to be actually funny. Sorry. (I'm always surprised when I get to Amazon the day after an award announcement or list announcement like this and they don't have the damn list highlighted in flashing text or something on the front page. I tell you, if I were in charge of the web there (hint hint), I'd be changing a few things…)
During last year's Great Canadian Literary Quiz, our old message board system was hopping with people helping each other out with the answers. Imagine my surprise when I checked back to see people were already back at it. If I remember, at least one of the people posting last year won something. Good luck! (Thanks, Jennifer!)
The Globe 100 is out, with some great books and some curious absences… Late-year awards list wonders Vincent Lam and Rawi Hage? Elizabeth Bachinsky? Dennis Bock? Ami McKay? Of course, books editor Martin Levin smartly heads off all criticism by saying, "Hey, no criticism." And now, I note, his email is set to autoreply that he's out of the office on vacay until December. Smoooooth, Martin. It's like a drive-by top 100. Blood on the street and the sound of tires squealing into the distance.
Reader Janine writes in again to remind us of the Canadian Blog Awards. So it looks as though there are two rounds of voting, one in which everyone gets a shot and then a shortlist for each category in round two. We've been booted out of two categories, but are still up for Best Entertainment Blog. I'm still surprised any of you actually voted in the first place. Thanks. So go vote again, and do it once every day rom now until Dec 1. Then, and only then, will we be safe from the nazi terrorist robot invader barbarians. The revolution awaits. And for those of you who didn't vote… duly noted. Your end will be painful and slow, but I'll do you the mercy of making it unexpected. I can bide my time.
Thanks for the day off. Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers, even though you're a month-and-a-half late. But seriously, thanks for peeking in when you should really be trying to work things out with the relatives you just left in the living room because you thought if you just don't damn well get away for even a couple of seconds, you'll be known in prison circles as the Turkey Baster Killer.
The One Little Goat production of Thomas Bernhard's Ritter, Dene, Voss, is getting great reviews. So far in Toronto's Now Magazine and Eye Weekly. Bravo to the cast, crew and director. Even as a long-distance board member, I am very proud to be involved.
The pope has written a biography of the little known prophet "Jesus". Title? The Newer Testament. I wonder if it's been holy-ghostwritten? Ar-ar-ar! I got a million of 'em. Surprisingly, the pope has undercut his own messenger-of-god status by saying people are free to disagree with the book. Huh. Imagine Christianity with room for discussion. It's positively Quaker.
No Pope has ever opened up his work and opinions to criticism before. Nor has any Pope tried to separate his personal and public personas, according to Professor Giuseppe Alberigo, a professor of the history of the Catholic Church at Bologna University.
"I really believe this is the first time this has ever happened," he said. "It is an extraordinarily important gesture. What it means is that the Pope is not totally infallible. As well as being the Pope, he is a common man, hugely studious in this case, but like all men he is subject to debates, arguments and discussions." He added that Pope John Paul II "could never have made a distinction between 'official' Pope and 'ordinary' Pope".
Amir Aczel knew just whom to blame. "It seems," the science author complained last month in an irate letter to the Washington Post, "that [Charles] Seife has submitted every sentence in my book to a Google search." Days earlier in a Post book review, Seife exposed what appeared to be embarrassing plagiarisms in Aczel's new book, The Artist and the Mathematician. But if Seife's discovery that Aczel lifted text from the Guggenheim Museum's Web site was instructive, so was the assumption behind Aczel's response. For any plagiarist living in an age of search engines, waving a loaded book in front of reviewers has become the literary equivalent of suicide by cop.
Hey, just to rub salt in the wounds of the plagiarist, is that the same Seife who wrote Zero: A Biography of a Dangerous Idea? 'Cause I loved that book!
This NYT holiday tradition says "notable" which is not necessarily "good", but there are some great titles in here, and a whole bunch I've never come in contact with.
Call it the mystery of the missing readers.
"Did you realize that there are 200 Canadian crime writers? And people can't name a single one," says Rick Blechta, president of the Crime Writers of Canada.
Even though Canada boasts some of the finest writers in the genre — such as Giles Blunt and William Deverell — too often we still turn to the United Kingdom and United States for our crime fiction. That's too bad, because our wide open country offers plenty of opportunity for murder and mayhem of the fictional sort.
I wonder if this is any way correlated to this episode of a Canadian reality cop show I saw a few years ago. It modelled on "COPS" — that American show where macho, neckless, show-off officers field calls to reign in wife-beater-clad drunks, occasionally bust in on and violently restrain poor people who live in what seem to be motels, and conduct prostitute stings that nab wide-eyed morons who have only just begun to imagine how bad their lives are about to get.
But of course, in a Canadian version things are different. In the episode I saw, lo those years ago when I still had cable, the small-town Manitoba cop was responding to a store alarm. When he arrived he found a drunk guy sitting out front on the curb with his head in his hands, a broken window behind him. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like this:
"Oh," he said. "It's Tony." When he got out of the car and approached the "perp" he said, "Hey, Tony, what's happening tonight?"
"Nothing," comes the voice from below.
"Tony, you had a bit to drink, eh?"
"Let's get you home and we'll deal with this in the morning, 'kay?" He helps him to his feet and leads him to the back of the car. "Watch your head, Tony…"
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we don't read crime novels written in Canada. Because we assume they're most often going to be more "misdemeanor" than "crime" novels.
Simpson is rejecting Judith Regan's scrambling claim that she considered the ill-conceived/fated book a confession. He says he wanted the money for his kids. Of course, his kids haven't received any of what he already got, have they? I'm not a capital punishment fan, but I can see someone having the desire to wipe shiv off with this dirtbag's spilled intestines. Oh, and that reminds me: Happy Thanksgiving, America!
The glorious Maud Newton has undergone a nip and tuck. While there is something to be said for embracing your cyber-cronehood, there's also something to be said for occasionally changing one's clothes. It looks and reads great!
While Mailer is still pugnacious, it’s hard to imagine a novelist, even a heavyweight champion, writing such a masterpiece of bring-it-on bravado in today’s literary scene, where more punches are pulled than landed. When Dale Peck lambasted virtually every writer he reviewed in the pages of The New Republic a few years ago, he became the object of intense, almost anthropological scrutiny, as if harsh criticism were a pathology rather than a sign of a healthy literary culture.
At their best, literary feuds show something at stake beyond personal vanity. At their worst, feuders can become like so many gorillas, pounding on their chests and marking their territory in the literary jungle. (Literary feuding generally seems to be a men’s sport — with the notable exception of Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, whose longstanding feud ended only with Hellman’s death; interviewed on “The Dick Cavett Show” in the late ’70s, McCarthy said of Hellman that “every word she says is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ ”)
I've decided the problem with literary feuds here in Canada is that most often at least one of the parties involved doesn't realise they're fighting.