If only there were more of them these days. Celebrity authors whose fame rests in part on their shunning of fame.
Extreme reclusiveness still comes naturally to a few. Its guiding star is Thomas Pynchon, whose whereabouts, political proclivities, literary productivity and even physical appearance remain the subject of a whole industry of febrile speculation. Since there is no publicly available photograph taken since the 1950s, even his appearance carries an aura of enigma. Pynchon himself has said (or is perhaps only rumoured to have said) that “reclusiveness” generally means nothing more than “disinclination to talk to journalists”, but if one were to set out on this road, his would be the model to follow.
Pynchon’s wish to left alone is only slightly handicapped by his continuing to write large novels. For JD Salinger, the retreat into obscurity has been underpinned by not having published anything for more than 40 years, a pattern not likely to be broken now the (erstwhile) author is in his late eighties.
Was the Pakistan cricket coach strangled over a tell-all memoir he was writing that would name names around allegations of international match-fixing? Oooh! This is suddenly interesting!
Speculation that cricket coach Bob Woolmer was killed because his forthcoming memoir would name names in the criminal match-fixing that plagues the sport prompted Jamaican police to announce yesterday that they would check the manuscript.
“But that’s not the only line of inquiry,” assistant police commissioner Les Green, who oversees Kingston’s newly revamped homicide squad, said in an interview. “Clearly we’ll be interested in what’s in the book. But this investigation is really open at the moment, there’s no specific line of inquiry, and right now nobody is viewed as a suspect.”
Five days after he was found dead in his luxury 12th-floor hotel room, a second autopsy showed that the 58-year-old Pakistan team coach and former British test star — one of the best-respected names in international cricket — was strangled, officials announced yesterday.
Well, despite surveys south of the border and over the pond that seem to show declining interest in intellectual activity, Canada once again bucks the trend in a study that shows that more of us would rather read a book than see a movie. A nation of polite nerds. Hear us roar!
Canadians are more likely to read a book than attend a movie, and they’re visiting art galleries and historic sites more. At least that’s what appears to have been the case two years ago, according to an analysis released yesterday of a “social survey” of 10,000 Canadians completed by Statistics Canada in 2005.
The analysis by Hill Strategies Research Inc. of Hamilton found that, in 2005, 17.4 million Canadians 15 years of age and older — or 66.6 per cent of that total population group — read at least one book in the course of 12 months. In fact, about four in 10 Canadians read at least one book a month in 2005. By contrast, in that same period, 15.9 million Canadians (61 per cent) went out to see at least one movie in a theatre or at the drive-in.
The level of book reading has remained stable relative to previous surveys of Canadian cultural activities done in 1992 and 1998, but there has been a decline in newspaper readership. In 1992, 93.2 per cent of Canadians said they read at least one newspaper that year; six years later, that figure was 88.7 per cent, and in 2005, 86.7 per cent. However, while the rate of newspaper reading declined, the number of readers has increased, thanks to a 22.6-per-cent hike in the overall number of Canadians aged 15 and up.
As a result, newspaper readers increased to 22.6 million in 2005 from 19.9 million in 1992.
In reality, I have a hard time believing these stats. My generalized anecdotal evidence is so much more powerful to me than a bunch of numbers. I still say we’re headed to hell in a handbasket slung over Stephen Harper’s forearm.
Have you checked out The Onion’s new videos yet? They go full time April 1, appropriately enough. I think the Daily Show somehow spun out of the Onion years back, so you know this is going to be good.
- OJ’s book to be auctioned at all star Satan worshipping debauch
- Oprah picks Cormac McCarthy’s The Road as pointless busywork for her army of couch jockey automotons…
- Blogs will be extinct in 10 years according to Bruce Sterling
An interesting raft of statistics on how readers deal with online material as opposed to the same material in print. Surprisingly, online seems to win out in terms of actually finishing the article.
Among the findings — that more text was read online than in print.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of online readers read all of the text of a particular story once they began to read it, the survey revealed. In print, 68% of tabloid readers continued reading a specific story through the jump to another page, while 59% did so in broadsheet reading.
The research also found that 75% of print readers are methodical in their reading, which means they start reading a page at a particular story and work their way through each story. Just 25% of print readers are scanners, who scan the entire page first, then choose a story to read.
Online, however, about half of readers are methodical, while the other half scan, the report found. The survey also revealed that large headlines and fewer, large photos attracted more eyes than smaller images in print. But online, readers were drawn more to navigation bars and teasers.
Findings also revealed that news event photos received more attention than staged or studio images, while color got more interest than black and white.
One wonders if they isolated for where the story was read. My suspicion is that more people finish stories online because they’re reading them at work and procrastinating…
It’s memoir week at Slate. Whatever that means.
The author of legal thrillers John Grisham makes $21m (£10.67m) a year, yet was humbly grateful last night to be told he has won a prize which consists simply of a golden pen nib. “As a writer of popular fiction I do not pick up many awards,”he said. “I am very honoured”.This has always been the lure of the British Book Awards, nicknamed the Nibbies – they bring a dearly craved touch of recognition to bestselling writers who have almost everything else.
A couple old student mag poems by Barack Obama have come to light, as will everything short of the lint in his ass crack during this campaign (and even that will be pounced on by Newt Gingrich if he senses a chance to discredit the young Senator — “His butt lint is yella! Yella!”). The Guardian examines them, fairly, if somewhat nastily, considering they’re poems written by a teenager.
Two of Barack Obama’s poems were found in a literary review published in spring 1982 by Occidental College, a Los Angeles seat of learning that Obama briefly attended. The magazine was called Feast, because student literary magazines are always called things like that. Unless they’re called something like Ashes, or something like Trombone Eggs.
The first poem, Pop, is more suited to a magazine called Ashes. It’s a portrait in free-to-middling verse of his grandfather, with whom the young Obama lived in Honolulu, and the lines roll along in a wonderfully American way. There’s not a lot of formal structure to them, but he’s obviously read the Beat poets and writers like Gary Snyder and Charles Bukowski, who knew that the simple words are the best ones, as long as you place them carefully on the page.
Barack likes his line breaks, his enjambments: let’s end a line with “broken” and start it with “in” just because we can! Let’s make the reader think the chair is a broken chair and then surprise them! Later on, the grandfather’s eyes are “dark, watery” and his neck is “thick and oily” as the teenage Obama relishes the sound of words and begins to feel his way around the kinds of things they can do.
The Orange Prize never seems short of controversy, which is good for a prize and all the books concerned. Doesn’t matter what judges or organizers do in a situation like this, someone’s always going to tell them they’re doing it wrong.
Apparently, what was so “shocking” about our longlist of 20 books was that it included titles which had previously won the Man Booker and the Costa. One commentator suggested to me off-the-record that our decision had been “brave”, which is vaguely flattering in its suggestion that we were prepared to don flak jackets in our determination to do our literary duty, but hardly accords with what went on in the judging room.
I’m not allowed to go into detail, but suffice it to say that the question of whether a book had previously won another prize was simply never mentioned. Perhaps we were naive, but we thought that we’d simply been asked to pick our 20 best books out of the 150-odd entries. The fact that we ended up including several which had previously been listed for other prizes seems to me entirely logical. Indeed, what would have been newsworthy would be if at least some of those books had not found their way on to our longlist, so adding heft to the idea that book prizes are arbitrary, random and entirely dependent on the whim of whoever happens to have the loudest voice on the judging panel.
The new Harry Potter cover has been released to a storm of hysterically grateful handwriting and apoplexy.
Should we be nosing around in writers’ private lives like panty thieves in the night? What if the authors specifically say no? At what point does a life become part of the public domain? I think Fred Astaire could tell you. It’s when you’re on TV dancing with a vacuum.
Faber has just translated Milan Kundera’s 2005 essay on the novel, Le Rideau (The Curtain). One of the most provocative passages declares that an author’s body of work is nothing more than the published writing that he “approved” in his own lifetime. In other words: no manuscripts, no letters, diaries, notebooks or drafts that might illuminate some terribly important aspect of a novel’s composition. None of this interests Kundera. “Life’s short,” he quips.
Sadly for him, we face an “army of researchers” who see it as their duty to foist all this unpublished material onto a time-poor planet, eager to assemble “Everything”: “a mountain of drafts, of deleted paragraphs, chapters rejected by the author but published by researchers in so-called ‘critical’ editions” (or “variora”, Kundera spits). Keep it all out of the public domain, he says: when it comes to their own work, authors know best.
Maud points to the NYT looking for your favourite quotes from fiction.
When Boing Boing pointed to this, I thought, ooh! Juicy! But it turns out you have to read for six hours to find out anything. And I refuse to spend a novel’s-worth of time reading from a screen to find out about how I won’t spend a novel’s-worth of time reading from a screen. If anyone wants to summarize it for me in the comments, I would appreciate it.
An oil and gas company has sent stoic engineers to join forces with a rag-tag group of wacky scientists in the techno-comedy sendup of the year! Thrills, chills and oil spills as this loveable bunch of misfits searches for a several thousand year old fictional island!
The Dutch-based engineering services company, Fugro Group, will use high-tech surveying equipment normally used in oil-and-gas exploration for the Ithaca project, due to start this summer and last about three years. The Greek Geological Society is also sponsoring the research.
”The technology will be very varied and that attracted Fugro to this,” said Steve Thompson director of airborne survey at Fugro. ”It’s unusual to be faced with a problem where you can apply the broad range of services that we have.”
Oh, and if we happen to find oil there, not that we’re looking, we’re going to drill right the fuck into Homer’s head.
And up to his neck in turtles. Seeming crackpot Michael Baigent, right or wrong, has lost his appeal against Dan Brown and Da DaVinci Code. The descendents of Jesus are breathing a sigh of relief that their world remains completely fictional. And wealthy. Flowy robes and Birkenstocks don’t come cheap these days, you know.
Today’s appeal upheld the high court verdict, which ruled that while both books explored similar ideas this did not constitute breach of copyright.
Copyright law protected Baigent and Leigh over the research and composition of their book, and the way the ideas in it were originally expressed, Lord Justice Mummery, one of three appeal judges, said.
“It does not, however, extend to clothing information, facts, ideas, theories and themes with exclusive property rights, so as to enable the claimants to monopolise historical research or knowledge and prevent the legitimate use of historical and biographical material, theories propounded, general arguments deployed, or general hypotheses suggested (whether they are sound or not) or general themes written about,” he ruled.
Darwin didn’t delay Origin of Species because he was afraid of being ridiculed. He delayed it because he was multitasking.
Contrary to the beliefs of many Darwin scholars, the great evolutionist did not delay publishing his theory for fear of professional ridicule or social shame. According to a new analysis of Charles Darwin’s correspondence, the real reason was much more prosaic – he was snowed under with work.
In his autobiography Darwin said “I gained much by my delay” in publishing his theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859 as opposed to when he originally conceived it in 1839. But John van Wyhe, at Cambridge University, argues that the common interpretation of “Darwin’s delay” is not correct. Darwin did not hold back his work On the Origin of Species to avoid a hostile reaction among his peers or denunciation by the church. Instead, he was tied up with writing about his travels around the world on the Beagle and other projects.
Oh, how we can relate to this. Except for you stinking rich novelists. Oh, sorry. Let me rephrase that: Except for you, you stinking rich novelist.
Gabriel García Márquez, pictured here in the midst of placing a bet at a vicious cockfight, turns 80 to thunderous applause. If I ever turn 80, I’m sure I’ll think I hear thunderous applause….
Ever hear of that guy who sells immortality rings? This is, without a doubt, the most painfully funny thing I have ever seen in my life. It’s not kind or fair or even nearing the edge of anything “good” about human nature, but it just keeps getting better and better. You have to watch at least until the karaoke.
Greetings my loyal, shadowy minions. For the first time in Bookninja’s living memory, I’ll be launching a book of poetry, The Rush to Here (Amazon.ca, Amazon.com) and am hoping to celebrate with you. I’m doing a brief reading tour in Quebec and Ontario next month and am hoping to meet as many of you as possible during this time. I’ll be in Montreal April 13 and 14, in Ottawa April 15 and 16, and in Toronto April 17 to 22. If you want me to speak to your bookclub, class or group during that time, drop me a line. I’m open for business. Here’s a schedule of events so far. I’m hoping you can make it out to at least one of them.
Ottawa International Writers Festival
Sunday, April 15,
Library and Archives
Ottawa International Writers Festival
Sunday, April 15,
Library and Archives
I’m hoping for dates in NYC and points west later in the spring/summer, and there will definitely be a St. John’s launch once I get myself organized. If anything else comes up, I’ll be sure to post about it. For now, please mark your calendars and help fill the audiences with deadly, shuriken-wielding lit-assassins.
In the UK, with Borders up for sale, there are some who see the plight of the big bookstores there as somewhat sympathetic.
The announcement that US retailer Borders is putting its UK stores up for sale is the latest bad news for those who want to see books maintain their high profile in high streets and shopping malls. Just a couple of weeks ago, Waterstone’s announced that it would reduce its retail space by 10%, possibly closing 30 stores. Independent bookshops are closing at a rate that, The Bookseller reports, will reduce them to extinction in 15 years.
Meanwhile, supermarkets and the internet – principally Amazon – continue to grow. Their shares of the market increased by more than 30% in 2005, and by a double-digit figure last year. The gains in sales in the book market overall are only slight. The conclusions are obvious.
Yes, it’s 7:34am and I need Shreddies.
If biography is so popular, how come the academy hasn’t embraced it by over-analysing every page and word and tearing the text to shit in an effort to create structures that will justify the academy’s existence? My guess would be that they aren’t done with the novel yet…
Yet, despite the fact that biography has moved to the forefront of the arts today, appearing in every medium from biopics to blogs, the academy still won’t deign to touch it. There is no university in the continental United States that has a department of biography — the only one that I know of is in Hawaii. College courses that do examine aspects of the genre, and explore its long history, are few and far between.
The history of biography precedes even Dr. Johnson’s time by many thousands of years. From the moment men and women first began to record, in song, the sagas of their forebears, human society has demonstrated an insistent need both to record and interpret the lives of real people: to celebrate their achievements, but also to explore their personalities — the better, perhaps, to know our own.
Another stand-alones gone, to merge with the opinion pages. And the band played on…
The Los Angeles Times has announced that it will merge its sunday opinion section (called “Current”) with the book review section beginning April 15, and that the paper will have more book reviews appearing throughout the paper as well, according to a press release.
The release also said the paper would expand its Web section on books, including a book store-searce ability and book-related event and lecture listings. The online opinions section will now feature interactive content as well, and will include web-only columns, online forums, and a blog. The paper also announced some changes to its business and calendar sections.
Yes, yes, we’re taking the books section, but look over here! Shiny….! Shiiiiiiiiny!
The Guardian looks at the trolls who make it their business to ruin things for everyone else — particularly scared freshmen with papers on Baudrillard due in 12 hours and they’re still drunk from the night before.
The internet has always been a magnet for bored people looking for amusement, but while some write a blog and others search for pornography, a growing number get their kicks by sabotaging high-profile websites.
And I’d wager to say there’s an awful number that combine all three into an icky soup of anti-social behaviour.
I’m very ill today so, because the shaking sweats are setting in, I think I’ll wrap things up with a roundup.
More later if I make it through the morning.
A while back we posted about Ben Schott’s piece in the NYT regarding how he treats books. A few readers noted similarities between one of Schott’s anecdotes and an essay by Anne Fadiman. Now the charge of plagiarism is starting to be bandied about. You heard it here on Bookninja first.
The LAT reports on the rise of Apoca-lit. Apparently it’s 9/11’s fault.
It’s not just Mel Gibson, Feral House and the “Left Behind” books anymore. Long the province of the paranoid left and Christian right, apocalypse has moved indoors, and it’s going highbrow. Literary novels with end-of-the-world settings — these books and others by respected writers such as Daniel Alarc–n, Michael Tolkin, David Mitchell and Carolyn See — are surging at the same time as serious filmmakers engage a subject most often left to B movies.
Based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel, Alfonso Cuar–n’s well-received 2006 film “Children of Men” shows a world in which human fertility has died out and fascism reigns. Over the next year, Hollywood will release a slew of “class” films involving environmental destruction, among them M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” and James Cameron’s “Avatar,” in which the beleaguered planet Earth turns on its inhabitants.
The notion of apocalypse — the word is from the Greek for “the lifting of the veil” — has been with us, in various forms, for a long time. But it’s still worth asking: What does it mean that the dream life of the richest, most scientifically advanced nation in history is troubled by nightmares of the end?
The simple answer is that the attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq war have brought a sense of unease and vulnerability to both artists and audiences. Growing worries about global warming and the greater visibility of the Christian right — Protestant fundamentalists, for whom the apocalypse is not metaphor, are thought to have swung the last two presidential elections — have brought the end of the world in from the shadows.
I’m sorta not really interested in this for some reason. It might have to do with the fact that my voice cracked and I have hair where there was no hair before. But that’s just a guess.
It is likely to be a publishing sensation, particularly as it is illustrated by veteran Middle Earth artist Alan Lee, who won an Oscar for art direction on Peter Jackson’s third film The Return of The King. Lee provided 25 pencil sketches and eight paintings for the first edition of the book, one of which is reproduced here for the first time in a national newspaper.
Tolkien experts are already tipping The Children of Húrin – which features significant battle scenes and at least one major twist – for big budget Hollywood treatment. Takings from the Lord of the Rings trilogy box office takings to date total some £1.5bn.
What do you think the average of i’s-dotted-with-hearts is in here? I’m willing to be it caps
90%. Oh, Anna… So young… so horsey-faced… so fucked up…
Two diaries, written in 1992 and 1994, by the late Playboy model were sold at an eBay auction Thursday for more than $500,000 US in total.
On eBay? Now that’s class.
Stephen Joyce, the crackpot grandson of James, has a long history of denying academics access to his famous family’s papers. Now he’s settled out of court with a Cali prof. Don’t worry, professors: he was born in 1932… it’s just a matter of time.
Francine Prose’s wonderful book Reading Like a Writer is a must read/study for any writer and student of writing. Actually, it’s a great primer for readers, too. I found this Boston radio (WBUR.org) podcast.
So, you want to write the great American novel, or read the greats again with a more knowing eye? Francine Prose is your guru and guide.
A dozen novels into her own enviable career, she says the secret to great writing is great reading and its inspirations. Homer for plot. Samuel Johnson for the lucid sentence. Flannery O’Connor for the word that makes all the difference. Virginia Woolf and Hemmingway and Tim O’Brien for virtuosity. Chekhov for unworldly knowing
It all sounded great until I realized that DiCaprio will lead. And Kate Winslet. There won’t be a Carpathia around to save this if it sinks.
According to the Daily Variety, DiCaprio and Winslet, who earned respective Oscar nominations this year in Blood Diamond and Little Children, will star in the Revolutionary Road, based on Richard Yates’s 1961 book about postwar disillusionment.
Winslet’s husband Sam Mendes will direct the story of a seemingly content 1950s couple who buckle under the pressure of balancing their true desires with social expectations. It will be Mendes’s first time directing his wife.
I’m just reading Yates’s Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and enjoying it very much.
The U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed it is looking to question an army deserter now living in Canada about explosive allegations he made in his autobiography.
“I can [confirm] for you that CID is attempting to locate and speak with this individual,” army spokesman Chris Grey said in an e-mail yesterday.
“We are attempting to contact him to follow up on some of the allegations he has made to [determine] if there is enough credible information to investigate further. We take any and all allegations of criminal wrongdoing very seriously.”
If you haven’t already read The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away From the War in Iraq, about Joshua Key’s experiences as an American soldier in Iraq and written by Lawrence Hill, go get a copy and get all your friends to buy a copy, too. It’s a very important document. And the Toronto police think so, too. Key is being hunted by the police. Apparently, they like the book so much they want to talk to Key about his involvement in the Iraq war. I feared for the guy’s future when I read the book. He indicts himself just as often as he accuses the American army of moral/legal infractions. I sure as hell hope he isn’t going to be scapegoated.
A war resisters’ support group says Toronto police officers came looking to question a U.S. army deserter, and it accused police of doing the U.S. military’s “bidding.”
The Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign issued a press release yesterday saying that three plainclothes officers visited the home of a Toronto family on March 13 looking for Joshua Key. Mr. Key, 28, is a former combat engineer with the U.S. army who fled to Canada in 2003 after serving in Iraq.
The family gave Mr. Key shelter when he arrived in Canada four years ago. According to the group, the officers identified themselves as being with the Toronto police and said they wanted to ask Mr. Key some questions about allegations he made in his autobiographical book, The Deserter’s Tale.
When you’ve finished ordering the book, have a listen to the Bookninja podcast: Lawrence Hill and Donna Nurse musing on, among other things bookish, The Deserter’s Tale.
The Independent rebuts Muriel Gray in this inelegant Q & A. Some good points, here and there.
Don’t male writers write thinly veiled autobiographical fiction too?
Of course, and they don’t get marked down for it. In Edward St Aubyn’s justly celebrated quartet of novels about the Melrose family, Patrick Melrose’s trajectory through life is uncannily similar to the author’s – though admittedly, spunking loads of money, doing tons of drugs and hobnobbing with the Royal Family is considerably more interesting to read about than is, say, the heroine sponging baby sick off her shoulder.
Male writers have also done very well out of so-called “domestic” fiction, too – just look at Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons, not to mention Flaubert with Madame Bovary. And Portnoy’s Complaint certainly never did Philip Roth any harm, however much it is said to have embarrassed his mother and delighted his father.
I can’t help it. I have to say something. Isn’t it just possible that publishers are at fault here not writers? It is the publisher who has to take the risk on a writer. Of course there is no way to prove this, but I suspect that mainstream publishers shy away from ballsy female writing. Unless the chick goes only by her initials or opts for a man’s name. Think JK, or Lionel, or George (you knew that last, though, didn’t you?).
Does anonymity lead to nastiness on the internet? I’d say that’s a resounding yes.
“The Internet really amplifies everything,” says Jeffrey Cole, of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. “We have a lot of opinions out there. All of a sudden there’s a place we can go to share them.” Add to that the freedom that anonymity provides, he says, and it “can lead to a rowdy Wild West situation, with no one to filter it.”
“It’s all things said reflexively, without thinking,” says Cole, who tracks the political and social impact of the Internet as director of Annenberg’s Center for the Digital Future.
“My guess is that if you went back to these people, a lot of them would have second thoughts.” And if you asked them to add their name, as in a traditional letter to the editor? “They’d be embarrassed.”
It’s only ever gotten mildly nasty around here, and I dislike it when it does, but I believe, esp in hermetic cultures like the lit world, it’s important to have an anonymous space to comment in. It’s an emergency valve for some people, I think. I’d rather them do it on the internet where I can ignore it than to my face where I’d have to exercise my ninja powers in the deadliest manner possible.
If this year’s Orange Prize longlist were a benchmark of women’s literary health then we would have little to worry about, as it demonstrates that women authors at the top of their game have no trouble thinking big, inventing and dreaming. But while these wonderful authors are representative of the very best women writers they are not, sadly, representative of the majority of women authors currently being published.
Judging by the increasing lack of inventiveness and imagination amongst too many, though not all, women authors it would seem that we have either been persuaded to stay within a narrow experience in order to be “taken seriously”, or more worryingly we are cautiously self-censoring because we are afraid of the gathering forces that are threatening feminism both domestically and internationally. As a judge in this year’s Orange prize, it’s hard to ignore the sheer volume of thinly disguised autobiographical writing from women on small-scale domestic themes such as motherhood, boyfriend troubles and tiny family dramas. These writers appear to have forgotten the fundamental imperative of fiction writing. It’s called making stuff up.
SNAP! Oh no you di’nt!
You know what kind of week it must be when you see another of these articles on how the internet is changing things–that’s right, a Slow News Week.
The web revolution that is turning whole industries from music to television upside down has been slow to reach the cosy world of books – apart, that is, from the pioneering bookseller Amazon. Not any more. Interesting things are happening on a variety of fronts that are changing the way books are found, read and talked about, and in almost every case for the good. Even while you are reading this, Google and others are scanning libraries of books – including the Bodleian at Oxford – to make tomes that were hitherto hidden available for all to read; in the case of the millions of out-of-copyright and “orphaned” ones, where ownership is unknown, for free.
But that figure is expected to change significantly when George W. Bush leaves office.
About one-third of the people living in the national’s capital are functionally illiterate, compared with about one-fifth nationally, according to a report on the District of Columbia.
Adults are considered functionally illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as comprehending bus schedules, reading maps and filling out job applications.
The study by the State Education Agency, a quasi-governmental office created by the U.S.
Department of Education to distribute federal funds for literacy services, was ordered by Mayor Anthony A. Williams in 2003 as part of his four-year, $4 million adult literacy initiative.
And we don’t mean happy. I find it mind boggling that when you speak of an entire country–region, in fact–you can say the words “only gay bookshop“. ONLY? What, are there just like 10 gay people in the UK? Or is everyone fooled by all the Hugh Grant clones? Luckily some A-list authors are on the case.
Authors are campaigning to save the UK’s only dedicated gay and lesbian bookshop, threatened with closure because of rising rents and pressure from the internet.
Gay’s The Word, which has been selling books in Bloomsbury, central London, since 1979, is hoping to secure its future by raising £20,000 to pay the rent, building a strong internet presence and beefing up community activities.
Ali Smith, the Whitbread award-winning novelist, said: “It’d be a political, cultural, communal and human loss if it went. The independents will be on the up again soon in a big way as readers get increasingly fed up of the three-for-two faceless chainstores.”
I’m at a conference in Moncton, or as I call it: “The Brampton of the East”, so my posting will be sparse today and tomorrow. If I publicly wonder aloud whether Ninja K will show up to bring you hearsay, do you think that obligates her to produce? One hopes. You’d think we plan these things in a much more structured way, but you’d be wrong. I run this ship like it’s a seadoo in a lake full of children on rubber rafts. There’s bound to be a price paid someday, but until then, I feel the need for speed.
Speaking of unusually boring places, the Writers Union, the Moncton of the writing world*, has issued a press release complaining about the Harper budget’s lack of interest in the arts. This is indeed a big problem. Cultural industries in this country account for almost 4% of the GDP. The cultural sector employs 600,000 people and brings in $40,000,000,000. Compare that to $55B in the Information and Communications Technology industry for the same year, or $54B in Construction, or $35B in Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction, or Agriculture and Forestry at $21B, and you get a sense of how important the culture sector is to the Canadian economy. This importance needs to be recognized in the budget. It’s that simple. Pay money to make money. It’s not rocket science.
* I ride the TWUC folks pretty hard because they’re often perplexingly ineffectual and directionless (notice that the date on the press release is for more than week from now… for some reason), but they’re dead right with this one, as were PWAC and other advocacy orgs who all said the same thing.
You can’t spell “hyperbole” without “hyper”… or “bole”… but I’m not sure yet how trees figure into this.
I should like to make a plea to all the press departments of all the museums and galleries. Please give up using the phrase “once in a lifetime”.
The V&A’s new show Surreal Things is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”. The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army ( pictured right), coming to the British Museum, in September is also “a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition”.
It may be true for most of the visitors that they will never get a chance to see these things again, but the phrase “once in a lifetime” represents a trend in the world of exhibitions that disturbs me. As a loyal member of the art-loving intelligentsia I feel pressurised by the phrase to visit the show or my life will in some way be wasted. It suggests that in the catalogue raisonné of my life project there will have a screaming gap if I don’t go. My nonattendance at the Holbein show will nag like a missing Pokémon card.
The phrase encapsulates the idea that a certain sort of life will be complete only when all the requisite boxes are ticked. The press is always coming up with lists of 10, 20, 100 things to see before you die. If I did work my way through them and saw the Mona Lisa, the Sistine chapel, GaudÍ’s church and Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, would I be happier? I might be if I had an autistic attachment to lists.
It’s a little like jacket copy and blurbs. Over the top is necessary to cut through the indifference and desensitization.
Mi’kmaq poet, dead at 75. Sad news.
Reader FTC, who can’t get enough of this book, sends a link to more, and funnier, ink on that self-help manual for the Oprah set, The Secret. I got a self-help manual for you p.m. couch jockeys: the TV Guide. Find something educational to watch.
Author films may one day replace live appearances. And so it begins. Eventually Peggy’s Frankenhand will gain sentience, run rampant over the planet stabbing author’s eyes out with a felt tip pen and then broadcast it’s cyborg visage on giant movie screens a la 1984. I just knew this was going to happen. I knew it.
The British author Ian McEwan is the star of the first film, which is planned to run 23 minutes and will feature snippets from an on-camera interview with Mr. McEwan, as well as commentary from peers, fans and critics.
Such films could eventually take the place of in-store book readings, which attract fewer attendees all the time, many booksellers say. “Some authors go to events and are really captivating personalities,” said Dave Weich, the marketing manager at Powell’s Books. “That does not describe most of them.”
For Mr. McEwan, the film will virtually replace his standard book tour, since he has declined to do traditional bookstore appearances to promote his new novel in the United States.
And here I’m stuck doing a lousy tour: partying with my friends and sleeping in. God, I can’t wait to upload it all to digital.
More on the Orange Prize, this time from the angle of chances for the triple crown of awards… ahem, excuse me. Tiara. (And that, my friends, is what is typically referred to by most 11 year-olds as “a burrrrrn!”) They discuss the idea that in the past the shortlist, which follows the Whitbread and Booker awards, has steered clear of naming winners of other big prizes, and there’s some discussion about whether this was on purpose. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the kind of novel that would win a prize normally dominated by male authors might not always fit with the literary sensibilities of a prize designed for and juried by those who feel women need their own prize for a level playing field. This isn’t a judgement one way or t’other on the issue, just throwing it out there. I’m an unwavering supporter of safe spaces and equalizing opportunities for women, just like I’m a big support of Gay Pride Day under the assumption that the other 364 days of the year are Straight Pride Day. I’m pulling for Kiran and Chimamanda.
The headline for this piece on how Larkin is eternal struck me as odd at first, but after a moment’s reflection I thought, Gee, I hope they’re saying that about me long after I’m dead… That’s really the brass ring here. You’re not crap. I think I need to go lie down now.
With all the other poets who knocked me sideways when I first started to read them my enthusiasm has waned a little – Auden can be too convoluted, Eliot can be simply frustrating. But for me, Larkin’s poems have a clarity that only deepens with time. I think Alan Bennett got it right when he said that to read a poem by Larkin is to feel that you’re still hand in hand with the poet when you cross the finish line. With a poem by Auden, it feels like you’ve jumped out of an aeroplane.
This Guardian blogger thinks hearing writers’ voices is invaluable, but wonders what the actual fascination with authors is.
Another thing I’ve been wondering about is just why, exactly, I find Vonnegut et al. such compelling listening. What is it about a flesh-and-blood author that’s so fascinating? Is it that, knowing (and loving) the works, we want to know the person behind them? Or is it less the writer per se than the writer as a biographical cipher – are we less interested in their lives for their own sake than for the literary “clues” that their various histories (and, in talks, off-the-cuff remarks) might impart?
For myself, I tend to plump for the latter. At least, I’d like to think that my curiosity is entirely academic – attributable to an interest to the books, and nothing to do with any Heat-reading, curtain-twitching propensities on my part.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure that this is entirely true, however. Yes, the fact that the younger Doctorow loved adventure stories fits in nicely with the older Doctorow’s plot-tight offerings of, say, Billy Bathgate and Waterworks. And yes, Vonnegut’s seemingly tangential waffling – and the way his careering ideas finally tie so beautifully together – mirror his prose style.
Ironically, she likes the Frankenhand’s Atwood best.