Is the cell phone the future of reading? Sweet merciful crap. Some days I think it would just be better if I gave in to the morning’s suggestion that I cease and desist metabolizing.
Like the comics they go for short, punchy sentences, leave gaps when people are supposedly thinking, and offer little in the way of subtle plot or characterisation. That doesn’t worry their main audience, teenage girls and female twenty-somethings, already Japan’s primary text messengers.
For them using the 160-character screen of a mobile phone to read a novel, often presented like an old serial in cliff-hanging chunks, is second nature. And it is paying off. Of Japan’s top 10 bestselling fiction works in the first half of this year, five began life as keitai shosetsu; moved from pixel to page, their average sale is 400,000.
And are they art?
No, wait, allow me to answer that. I’ve been practicing my crazy old man routine lately, trying to get ahead of my pals so that when they naturally arrive at that point, I’ll already be an expert. Here I go. Ahem. “Fuck off, you shitbag kids. You wouldn’t know art if I painted your eyelids open and jammed Campbell’s Soup cans into your ocular sockets.” I know. Too wordy. Needs work. As an alternate I use this: “Blleeeaarrggghhh!”
Okay, I know this isn’t directly lit related, but Blade Runner news makes me gasp with adolescent joy, so…
Wired: Some of that ambiguity got squeezed out of the original version. It seems like you’ve been making up for it ever since.
Scott:I read an article recently saying that one of the reasons the film has found an ongoing audience is that it was incomplete. That’s absolute horseshit. The film was very specifically designed and is totally complete. In those days, there was more discussion than was welcome, as far as I’m concerned. [Screenwriter] Hampton Fancher, [producer] Michael Deeley, and I talked and talked and talked — every day for eight months. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of me in this script. That’s what happens, because that’s the kind of director I am. The single hardest thing is getting the bloody thing on paper. Once you’ve got it on paper, the doing is relatively straightforward.
Two commentary links from LitKicks: one on the pleasures of paperbacks, and a very thorough interesting piece on the pricing of literary fiction. Great stuff.
Is there any purpose in translating poetry (especially when it most often results in a pale imitation of the original?)
Is there any purpose in translating poetry? This question was posed last weekend in the Guardian Review by James Buchan, reviewing a new Paul Celan selection, Snowpart/Schneepart, with English translations by Ian Fairley. He adds that, after all, “a poem does not contain information of importance, like a signpost or a warning notice”.
That’s true enough. Modern lyric poetry, with its symbols and metaphors, its arcane allusions and teasing line breaks, is fairly bad at giving us the facts. We no longer live in an age in which the skills of beekeeping, say, are explained by the greatest verse-maker in the language, as Virgil does in The Georgics. Even those jolly mnemonics about the weather or the Greek alphabet are fading from consciousness. It’s a pity, as I often think I might get the gist of assembling a new piece of flatpack furniture quicker if the instructions were wittily rhymed.
So why translate? My first answer is that poetry in translation simply adds to the sum total of human pleasure obtainable through a single language.
Vancouver’s Word on the Street will go ahead, despite the ongoing labour dispute between the city and the librarians. It’ll just have to be, you know, on the street.
With its traditional anchor point, Library Square, behind picket lines this year, it’s a wonder that it’s going ahead at all. But Jauk, her partner Bryan Pike and the other event organizers in their firm, Rebus Creative, say the show must go on.
Canada Post, across Georgia Street from Library Square, has agreed to allow tents to be put up on its parking lot. Jauk said three of Georgia’s lanes will be closed to traffic so festival-goers will be able to get to those venues safely.
As well, the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, at 777 Homer, is allowing its sidewalk to be used.
“We’ve managed to save most of the festival,” said Jauk. “The only major venue we had to cut completely was the Main Stage, which is really unfortunate, but there’s just not enough space.
“We’re really pleased that we were able to relocate pretty well everything else.”
Remember that guy we posted about a while back who made the heartwarming video of himself opening response letters from agents (rejection after rejection until he got a positive response)? Well, I guess he must be taping the entire process. Here are a few others from him:
He’s committed! I find it charming.
- A lengthy, angry explanation of Bookscan
- Bizarrely ineffectual, high speed quasi-”history” of American lit for high school kids set to, what else, “American Pie”… No matter how bad stuff like this is, you can’t look away. It’s like passing an accident on the highway… a kind of cultural rubbernecking
- Ninja poetry… Did I post this before? Who cares. Let’s watch again.
- Bukowski: Poetry and Motion
- “Be-gone J. Evans Pritchard, Pee-Aitch-Dee!” Gets me right here, every time… Sniff.
- “Can’t you write about meadows or something?” (timely?)
PEN on changes to the so-called Patriot Act that will keep library records a bit more private.
Passage of the USA Patriot Act gave the FBI virtually unchecked authority to issue these administrative subpoenas without oversight, and the Inspector General’s March 2007 report confirmed that the number of NSLs issued by the FBI has skyrocketed, with more than 140,000 requests for information served between 2003 and 2005, and that more than 1,000, and perhaps many thousands, of those requests potentially violated laws or agency rules. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled for the second time that the NSL’s gag provision and lack of judicial review violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, noting that changes which Congress made last year had failed to correct the fundamental flaws.
The NSL Reform Act would correct many of these flaws. Among other things, it would require the government to make an individualized determination that each record sought with an NSL relates to someone with a connection to terrorism or espionage, and it would place a time limit on the gag order (which could be extended by the courts, if necessary). Significantly, the legislation would also establish an individualized standard of suspicion for Patriot Act “Section 215” orders, which allow the FBI to seize any business records, including library circulation and bookstore transaction records, merely by telling a secret FISA court that the records are “relevant” to an investigation.
Canadian writers and publishers have called for an end to the labour dispute that has left Vancouver without public library service for the past nine weeks, and forced The Word on the Street Vancouver festival to cancel some of its scheduled September 30 events.
“Nine weeks is far too long for citizens of a major Canadian city to be denied access to library books, research materials, and literary readings,” says Susan Swan, chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada. “We urge the two sides in this dispute to return to the bargaining table, negotiate an equitable agreement, and allow the libraries to reopen. Writers and their readers are being hurt by this strike.”
“For many people the library is an essential service, a repository of intellectual nourishment that is as important as healthy food and clean water,” says Hal Wake, artistic director of the Vancouver International Writers Festival.
Like Salman Rushdie, Indra Sinha used to be an adman. Best leave the comparison there: the parallels are so close that Sinha prefers not to think about them. Both were born in Bombay, went to the Cathedral School for Boys, came to Britain, went to Cambridge, wrote ads about cream cakes (as well as The Satanic Verses, Rushdie is credited with the “Naughty but Nice” campaign), and abandoned advertising to write fiction.
Sinha, who now lives with Vickie in the Lot valley in the south of France, had made two previous attempts to leave advertising to write. One produced a translation of the Kama Sutra and a book on tantric sex, both of which are, he says, more high-minded than they sound and perhaps than the publisher wanted. But both escape bids were thwarted. “Advertising is a fun industry,” he says. “You’re surrounded by clever people; it’s a very casual, easy lifestyle and of course very well paid, so it’s extremely seductive.”
But his work for Amnesty had radicalised him, and the onset of middle age made him realise it was now or never. “I was getting restless,” he says. “I felt as though I’d climbed to the top of the advertising mountain, but when I got to the top I saw a different peak higher and further away. That’s the damn thing I should have tried to climb from the beginning, and of course you have to go down and start at the bottom again.”
Some years ago, he says, an eminent English editor contacted his agent, suggesting that he jump from his current publishing house to hers. In return for the large advances on offer she explained that he would have to submit to editorial guidance on the kinds of books he should be writing. The most commercially viable thing possible would be to write books like American Gods and so his future books would have to be that length and have the same kind of subject matter and so on.
“I would basically have to write that same book over and over three or four times until I became a blockbusting author of great enormousness because, she pointed out, if you want to be a Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling or whatever, you have to write the same kind of thing that people are waiting for. ” He sounds incredulous. “If you told me that I was going to have to write the same kind of book over and over I would blow my brains out.”
The prison czars in the States will allow religious texts to stay on the shelves – for the time being. I have to laugh a this because you just know that every Republican and evangelical nutbar (in fact, every everyone involved) who railed against this so desperately wanted to say, It’s okay if you remove the the Other Guy’s texts, just leave our One True Word ™ ones alone.
The bureau had said it was prompted to remove the materials after a 2004 Department of Justice report mentioned that religious books that incite violence could infiltrate chapel libraries.
After the details of the removal became widely known this month, Republican lawmakers, liberal Christians and evangelical talk shows all criticized the government for creating a list of acceptable religious books.
The bureau has not abandoned the idea of creating such lists, Judi Simon Garrett, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. But rather than packing away everything while those lists were compiled, the religious materials will remain on the shelves, Ms. Garrett explained.
The Poetry Society of America has lost five board members in under a year, all around the awarding of the Frost Medal to John Hollander, who has made some questionable (read: boneheaded) extra-poetic comments about race. Who knew things were so exciting there?
Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, who runs an international commodities trading and shipping firm and dabbles in writing poetry, said he resigned partly to protest what he regarded as an “exercise of gross reactionary thinking” among the other board members who left in the wake of the award to Mr. Hollander, a retired English professor at Yale.
When Mr. Hollander was considered for the award three years ago, some members raised comments he had made in interviews, reviews and elsewhere that they felt should be examined when judging his candidacy. In one example, Mr. Hollander, writing a rave review in The New York Times Book Review of the collected poems of Jay Wright, an African-American poet, referred to “cultures without literatures — West African, Mexican and Central American.” And in an interview on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” a reporter paraphrased Mr. Hollander as contending “there isn’t much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.”
Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, however, focused on what he believed were Mr. Mosley’s motives — namely, protesting Mr. Hollander’s extra-poetic remarks. “It’s as if you have to approve of the man’s politics before you can praise his poetry,” Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said. “I am terrified of McCarthyism in whatever clothes it wears.”
Now, I’m just thinking “aloud” here to get at both sides of this, so bear with me, but — while Louis-Dreyfus strikes me as a dink in the way he’s handling this, and I think he’s going about making his point the wrong way (his wide McCarthyism brush is a crutch that appears strikingly similar to Godwin’s Law), I can’t help but agree with him on one thing: look at the poems before the man. Undoubtedly Hollander was being, however intentionally or unintentionally, at least ignorant, at most racist, when he said these things. But did he say them in the poems? And did he say them badly in the poems?
On the other hand, is the award for lifetime achievement in “the field”? That would presumably does include what one says as a critic and pundit. Was Hollander furthering the cause of poetry, whatever the hell that is, by spewing ignorant comments? And surely there were others just as qualified for this award who DIDN’T go around saying Africans, Mexicans and Central Americans have no literatures. Why was he chosen over any number of others who could have had the award.
Interesting, if somewhat depressing, debate.
BoingBoing points to the NSA using a program to “fight terrorism” (ie, you) by examining the writing styles of anonymous web postings in such a way that they can attribute, with a claimed 95% accuracy, a variety of posts to one author.
Gee, there’s no room for fucking up there. Even if that accuracy claim is correct, which I doubt it is, that’s a big five per cent for some random kid (who happens to write like Osama) rotting in a holding cell and on his way to Syria for “questioning”. When will the people rise up and stand against this kind of thing? What a nightmare.
I spent the entire day working from home yesterday because Sears said it would deliver my new washer and dryer “in the morning”. Apparently in Newfoundland “in the morning” means “around 2:30, b’y.” Then I had to wait for the guy to arrive to install and balance it, which I could have just done myself, but he said he’d be here at 8am this morning, which of course means 10am. So I am behind at work and offer you only a set of roundups for your daily browsing pleasure. Here’s some misc news.
- Israeli writers show more sense and compassion than Israel (much like American writers – minus Ray Bradbury and Orson Scott Card – show more sense than the US government) by calling for cease fire with Hamas
- Google launches new search engine for older folks (and Bush) – “The Google“
- Spanish bookstore closes in NYC
- Bizarre plot twists in the lives of real life authors (from Maud)
- RIP: Alootook Ipellie, Inuit author, dead at 56
- RIP: Anna Livia, feminist author, dead at 51
- British library in trouble
- A look at the NYT TPO bestseller list
- Seeking out the right title (from Ed)
- Pooh suits
The St. James Literary Society in Montreal has a storied history. Faw faw faw. Do you get it, old chap? Storied! And with a $10 cover to keep the riffraff out, it should be around another 110 years or so — geologically speaking.
The sad truth about agents. Don’t read this if you have hopes and dreams you still cling to. In fact, don’t read virtually anything we post here these days. Just run screaming and lock yourself in a closet with a typewriter and your inheritance money and click away until your work is done.
Chances are that if you are a writer a little further down the food chain, but lucky enough to have an agent, they won’t be doing much for you. Restless writers, like I used to be, may change agencies frequently, only to find out that after a brief honeymoon all is back to normal – for most writers changing agencies is like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic as they watch the promises of their career go down the drain.
The problem is that there are many more writers than the market can bear, and to most publishers writers are about as important as farmers are to Tesco – they know that there is an endless supply of produce. Of course most of the unsolicited writing that lands on agents’ desks is rubbish, but how can we be sure that the occasional gem will be discovered? The short answer is that we can’t and, sadly, neither agents nor publishers lose any sleep over it. The undiscovered writer is the acceptable victim of a system which, ironically, works for everyone concerned except for the very people who are its lifeblood.
Harlequin will make all its bodice rippers and associated trash available for download. I’d like to say that the internet just got stupider, but really folks, it’s about the same. This is what passes for news.
When I was at art college a boastful student, who believed himself a brilliant painter, painted distortions of human figures. I asked a friend of mine, who was an experienced artist, what he thought of these paintings. My friend examined them with a critical eye, and explained that the student’s ignorance of how to draw the human figure was obvious in every brushstroke; the human figures were distorted not as a result of experiment, but as a result of an inability to draw. My friend argued that knowledge, once acquired, is unmistakably evident in art as in other disciplines, even in the process of abstraction.
And so it is with poetry. If one knows what the rules are, one can experiment. But if one has never learnt, then one is simply playing. It’s a bit like stacking bricks in the dark and hoping that when the light is switched on you have made a building.
Sing it, sistah.
- Sam Jordison says O’Flynn was robbed by the Booker shortlist
- Film-maker Miranda July wins O’Connor short story prize
- A brainless starlet’s novel is outselling the entire Booker shortlist… Is it time to drop the lifeboats and make for the deserted isle yonder, where we can start society anew?
A teacher in the US has lost his job after giving a student a comic by renowned artist Daniel Clowes. The kid’s parents claim it was pornography. While I’m not totally familiar with all Clowes work, I know this was no Alan Moore piece. So what gives? Where’s the line? A mildly humorous take here.
At an NBCC event, Salman Rushdie, ever the bastion of rational thought in a world of hyperbole and panic, wonders why all this talk of declining book reviews tends to set the blame on the shoulders of bloggers.
Then Mr. Rushdie went off-message: “I think it’s rather unfortunate that some of the coverage tries to pitch print reviewing against the new media. I think they complement each other very well.” To those familiar with the ongoing debate in the book world about whether lit blogs are destroying western culture–as Rushdie’s listeners were–his meaning could hardly have been clearer: Blogs aren’t the enemy.
The publicity wagontrains have struck out in search of gold in the Sierra Madres of the newspaper world. So we get slow-news-day profiles of everyone and their dog. Mind you, this doesn’t mean none of these aren’t not uninteresting. (Figure that one out.)
Airport screeners in the US (at least) are watching what you read while waiting for your flight. I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately and this scares the crap out of me. They better not take away my copy of Mr. Pip before I find out what happens to Mathilda and Pop Eye.
The Identity Project filed Privacy Act requests for five individuals to see the data stored on them by the government.
The requests revealed that the PNRs also included information on one requester’s race, the phone numbers of overseas family members given to the airlines as emergency contact information, and a record of a purely European flight that had been booked overseas separately from an international itinerary, according to snippets of the documents shown to Wired News.
The request also revealed the screening system includes inspection notes from earlier border inspections.
One report about Gilmore notes: “PAX (passenger) has many small flashlights with pot leaves on them. He had a book entitled ‘Drugs and Your Rights.’” Gilmore is an advocate for marijuana legalization.
Another inspection entry noted that Gilmore had “attended computer conference in Berlin and then traveled around Europe and Asia to visit friends. 100% baggage exam negative…. PAX is self employed ‘Entrepreneur’ in computer software business.”
“They are noting people’s race and they are writing down what people read,” Scannell said.
It doesn’t matter that Gilmore was reading a book about drugs, rather than Catcher in the Rye, according to Scannell. “A book is a book,” Scannell said. “This is just plain wrong.”
“After scarfing back a five dollar bagel with questionable cream cheese, a cannister of Pringles, and a Snickers, PAX turned pale and began to frantically search for a restroom. Analysis from the chemset located in the toilet shows the PAX to have eaten nothing but pre-packaged junk for for the last six months. Computer models suggest arresting the passenger on humanitarian grounds.”
That last bit was mine.
Homecoming dance ruined by young punks bent on disruption and the spread of loose morals. Mr. Kamal Al-Solaylee, you may have the coolest name in arts journalism, but you’ve just broken one tender lady’s fragile heart here.
while I strongly believe that what the all-female production has done is heroic, I don’t think the mission was accomplished as successfully as I hoped it would. I don’t mean to rain on this homecoming parade, but watching the show again – I reviewed its world premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon on Aug. 2 – convinced me of two things. Yes, it’s come a long way since and, sadly, it has also hit a glass ceiling it may never be able to break through. It’s a case of hard work and determination struggling against genetics and destiny.
The National Post, which fancies itself a right wing version of the already-right-enough The Globe and Mail, has a long history of making Canada laugh in the way one laughs at that drunk rich uncle with the pot belly cinched into a cornflower blue pudding sack over pale chinos — you know, the one who lives in Vaughn or Westchester and got into an argument about global warming at your wedding and just bought himself a Hummer and a Harley because his hair fell out and his wife left him? Yeah, him. Anyway, it’s no surprise they took an editorial stance against Naomi Klein’s new one, The Shock Doctrine, but the chuckle comes when you find they bought excerpts of the book to run concurrent with the bitch fest. And here we thought they’d done away with books coverage years ago when all the staff they’d poached from other papers started to run away.
Here are a few links to those of you who like kidlit stories that don’t involve JK.
Chindigo prez, Head Reisman (I can call you Head, can’t I, Head?), has started a charity to ensure books get onto public school library shelves…
“She got it,” remembers Ms. Gillis, who took Ms. Reisman to the school’s new but mostly empty library. “She said, ‘How can I help you?’ I said the idea is to open the world of possibilities to kids and provide them with the resources that they need. We just couldn’t do it.”
That conversation and a later dinner at Ms. Reisman’s mansion inspired the retailer to start a charitable foundation to fund school libraries.
Yesterday, Ms. Reisman took her campaign to put more books on school shelves and laid it at the feet of provincial governments, challenging them to correct what she describes as a national crisis.
Suuurre. We all know how this goes. First she moves in and forces out the local libraries, and then she switches the stock so the kids won’t have poetry or proper literature, but only a plethora of computer manuals, Oprah books, TV tie-ins, and a variety of yoga mats and scented candles. Shrewd move, Head. Soon no one will stand in the way of your one-woman quest to kill the publishing industry with your cocktail of questionable business practices, bad taste and impulse merch. Here’s my soundbite for today: Mix Indigo with any colour and what do you get? Indigo.
School as the start of a lifelong hate of literature. Maybe I was lucky, or perhaps pre-disposed, but I had some great profs who actually engaged the books we were reading as well as the class. Don’t get me wrong, I still think my degree was a waste of $40G and fifteen years of my life (five in class, ten paying it back), but it didn’t make me hate literature. I guess what it mostly made me hate was that snivelling, smarmy breed of people who seem to professionally take literature and creative writing classes. Oh, and grad students. Sorry, but it’s true. They use language as though they’re tech junkies with the latest cell phone. They can’t stop pulling it out to show off in front of people, and they talk too loud in public places.
Despite the fact that I studied English Literature at university and went on to undertake a variety of bookish professional pursuits, my central recollection of English Lit at school is of how much I disliked most of the books that I read for my classes. It seems to be quite a universal feeling: “Oh, I read that at school” is a sentence often accompanied by a disdainful curl of the lip, even by passionate book-lovers. What’s the cause of this phenomenon? I’ve considered a few possibilities. One is the quality of the teaching. Listening to someone who lectures from a script they have been using for the past 25 years and with which even they are bored to tears is uninspiring, particularly if other students aren’t terribly interested, either. One of my classmates used to cry out in despair, “Too deep!” as our class was led through tedious line-by-line analyses of Jane Eyre and similar canonical landmarks.
The publicity plan is more a publicity plea in this day and age, especially with the little books — but with big books that are “news makers”, it gets downright cutthroat.
At the same time the delicate publicity dance has taken on a heightened importance as books, like movies, must now explode out of the gates or quickly recede. In the case of Alan Greenspan’s memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” which officially went on sale Monday, Penguin Press, the publisher, followed a tried-and-true game plan: It arranged an interview with Mr. Greenspan on “60 Minutes,” sold exclusive excerpts to a national magazine (Newsweek), scheduled postrelease appearances on “Today” and other shows, and embargoed copies to reviewers.
Penguin Press, which paid a reported $8.5 million advance to Mr. Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, also distributed early copies of the book to select newspaper reporters and arranged for pre-publication interviews with Mr. Greenspan that, under agreement, could not run until Monday.
But Friday night, just as in previous rollouts, a newspaper (in this instance The Wall Street Journal) bought a copy of the book and ran a story online. The New York Times and The Washington Post followed with front-page articles on Saturday. All three carried interviews with Mr. Greenspan on Monday.
The gentlemen’s agreements that once existed between publishers and media outlets have long since fallen by the wayside, as embargoes are seen as catnip to reporters chasing news.
On removing religious books from prison libraries… NOT a good idea.
The federal Bureau of Prisons is under pressure from members of Congress and religious groups to reverse its decision to purge the shelves of prison chapel libraries of all religious books and materials that are not on the bureau’s lists of approved resources.
Outrage over the bureau’s decision has come from both conservatives and liberals, who say it is inappropriate to limit inmates to a religious reading list determined by the government.
Paul Muldoon, perhaps Ireland’s greatest writer, will join the New Yorker as Poetry Editor, replacing longtime lit editor Alice Quinn. It should be interesting to see where this goes.
In 2006, there were 546 reported challenges to remove books from library shelves, most (61%) made by parents and most (71%) involving schools.
Topping the list was “And Tango Makes Three,” a tale of two male penguins parenting an egg from a mixed-sex penguin. Toni Morrison’s novels “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye” also made the list, but the most challenged books of the 21st century remain J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” novels.
Not what you think. Actual books about the Amazon by Brazilian novelists.
In recent years, though, the Amazon has become what Dr. Suárez-Araúz called “an urbanized reality,” and that is Mr. Hatoum’s literary world. In prize-winning novels like “Two Brothers” and “Ashes of the North,” Mr. Hatoum, who is of Lebanese descent, wrote about the Arab immigrants who play a major role in Amazon trade and their relations with other ethnic and racial groups, from indigenous peoples to the descendants of Portuguese pioneers.
Okay my shadowy minions, it’s time for me to break what I’ve come to refer to as “The Great Thunder Bay Barrier”. That is, I’ve travelled every inch of the US and most of Meh-hee-ko and large swathes of Europe, but have somehow yet to travel west of Thunder Bay, Ontario in Canada. So, here we go. I am headed to Winnipeg on business, but will squeeze in a reading at Aqua books and drinks after with like-minded poets tonight. Be there or be mid-western. Or be both, you know, if you like.
- OJ book gets second printing… if you ordered this, you can expect your genitals to swell and explode in shards of razor sharp fungus shortly — once I figure out the last few ingredients for this spell… Anyone know where I can get a good helping of pond scum?
- We’re pretty hard on Rowling around here, but I expect the wall of money she’s erected around her compound can probably stand the barrage… that said, she does do good, by donating to charity… oh, wait! She’s also contributing to the English language purge of world culture…
- Macfarlane leaves Toronto Life, Fulford steps in — Sarah… The books, Sarah. Remember the books. And bring the lit back to its former glory…
- Essay on “the literary life“
- A trio of book links found at BoingBoing… Cory must be on a tear: altered books (awesome!), pop up book lamp (sweet!), Lethem on PKD (cool!)
- Universities vs the unversity press: “As the gatekeepers of the peer review process in the humanities and many of the social sciences, university presses (along with equivalent journals in the biological and physical sciences) are supposed to ensure that only high-quality scholarship is published — or at least that flawed research never sees the light of day. They are the foundation of the entire scholarly edifice. Yet, over the last three decades, American universities have frequently undermined their presses, displacing their dedication to scholarly values in favor of an incoherent amalgam of free-market ideas about competition and profit. Scholarly publishing in 2007 is a hollow shell of its former self. We now seem to be witnessing a merciful reversal of this trend at the 11th hour; but unless the reversal is made permanent, our system of scholarly communication will remain in terrible peril.” Yes, yes, very important stuffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
- Lit agent czarina arrives in power to find most of her star agents leaving… and taking their authors with them… Ouch. I’ll stick with my agent until the very end, because, as a poet, my agent is the source of my livelihood and the protection I receive from the hostile forces of the publishi–bwaahahahahahahah! Sorry, I couldn’t do that with a straight face.
- Nutjob won’t return sex manual to library because she fears the content is immoral (from Ed)
Hey hey, my shadowy, shivery Winnipeg minions. I am coming to your town like a barrel full of burning hammers, whatever the hell that means, today. Won’t you come see me read with your hometown hero Ariel Gordon?
Location: Aqua Books, 89 Princess St
Date: September 19, 2007
Time: 7:30 pm
I’m hoping we’ll have a drink afterward, presumably not at the bookstore, and I’d love it if you were there to lead me to where the brass taps spring forth their foamy libation from the hard stone of Canada’s midwest.
An interesting article on how we create new words to fill mental gaps. By that reasoning, I should have come up with an entirely new language last night. But instead I just read Sky and Telescope and slipped into a doze that was something close to Zen transcendance — but with beer.
But many gaps in the language simply refuse to be filled: a gender-neutral third-person pronoun to replace he or she; a term for one’s adult children; the early-morning insomnia in which your bladder is too full to allow you to fall back to sleep but you are too tired to get up to go the lavatory. The comedian Rich Hall gave us the word sniglet (an example of itself) for a word that should exist but does not. Eg, Elbonics n. The actions of two people manoeuvering for one arm-rest in a cinema. Peppier n. A waiter whose sole purpose seems to be asking diners if they want ground pepper. Furbling v. Having to go through a maze of ropes at an airport or bank even if you’re the only person in line. Phonesian n. Dialling a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
Barbara Wallraff inverted the formula in Word Fugitives, a history of recreational word-coining and a collection of her columns by that name in The Atlantic Monthly, in which one reader submits a lexical gap and others try to fill it: Saying something to your child, then realising that you sound like one of your own parents: déjà vieux, mamamorphosis, mnemomic, patter-familias, vox pop, nagativism, parentriloquism. The moment when you should introduce two people but can’t remember one of their names: whomnesia, persona non data, nomenclutchure, mumbleduction, introducking. The confusion experienced by everyone in the vicinity when a mobile phone rings and no one is sure if it is his/hers: conphonesion, phonundrum, ringchronicity, ring-xiety, pandephonium.
I come up with these kinds of things all the time, but only lay claim to, and regularly use, my number one neologism — “Douché!”: a rejoinder used upon conceding a point to an asshole. The other night I heard a good one spoken by accident. Someone meant to say “masterpiece”, but said, “masterpeach” instead. I am still trying to come up with a good definition.
The corporate love affair with Ayn Rand continues unabated. Watch out when you look into this pit of snakes. There might be something looking back.
For years, Rand’s message was attacked by intellectuals whom her circle labeled “do-gooders,” who argued that individuals should also work in the service of others. Her book was dismissed as an homage to greed. Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality.”
But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.
“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.
“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.
There is so much that’s wrong with this, I am forced to start my shudder from a level somewhere below my diaphragm and allow it to course through my body in a Kramer-esque convulsion of disgust and dispair.
A reprint of an old interview with F Scott Fitzgerald. The real news here being, of course, that the New York Post once printed interviews with literary authors instead of prurient gossip and right wing propaganda. Huh.
Long ago, when he was young, cocksure, drunk with sudden success, F Scott Fitzgerald told a newspaper man that no one should live beyond 30. That was in 1921, shortly after his first novel, This Side of Paradise, had burst into the literary heavens like a flowering Roman candle.
The poet-prophet of the post-war neurotics observed his 40th birthday yesterday in his bedroom of the Grove Park Inn here. He spent the day as he spends all his days – trying to come back from the other side of paradise, the hell of despondency in which he has writhed for the last couple of years.
Holy shit! The New York Post also used to employ multi-syllabic words and graceful metaphor!
A case study in collaborative writing shows things can be good, fulfilling even. I personally think it’s a recipe for murder and burial in a cold wood’s shallow grave. Try to edit my clever aphorism, will you?
WHEN REBECCA Sparrow thought of writing a novel with her mentor, Nick Earls, she was warned: “There are no people who have ever written a novel together who are friends at the end of it.”
Not true. Australian writers Dymphna Cusack and Florence James spent an idyllic time writing the first draft of their novel Come in Spinner, and stayed friends though a gruelling five-year editing process. They wrote under the name of Sydney Wyborne, and when the book won the Daily Telegraph prize, the editor refused to speak to Cusack when she called to make an appointment, and insisted he would only talk to Wyborne. (Obviously Come in Spinner couldn’t possibly have been written by a woman, let alone two.)
The New York Times will expand its bestseller lists starting this weekend to include mass market and TPO titles. To put this in perspective, allow me to rephrase: The New York Times will expand its bestseller lists starting this weekend to provide extra coverage to lists you’ll never be on.
The New York Times Book Review said Monday that it will redefine and expand its best seller lists starting with the Sept. 23rd issue.
The Review will launch two separate lists for paperback fiction: one for mass market titles and one for the larger, more expensive trade paperback format. The Review will continue to rank non-fiction paperbacks on one list.
Each paperback list will run 20 titles, up from 15 in the current arrangement. Both the hardcover and paperback lists in the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous category will also expand, going to 10 titles each from five. The changes are part of a redesign of the section.
When you open a new bookshop in Toronto on Bay Street, shouldn’t you get your Globe profile in the Business pages instead of the Arts? If there’s such a thing as a cult of celebrity around booksellers in Toronto, I would say Ben McNally is the Brad Pitt of that world. A nice guy who runs good looking stores. When Ben left Nicholas Hoare on Front, there was an audible gasp from the book-buying public of Toronto which was met by McNally with a meaningful twinkle of the eye. Now you know why.
It might never be a good time to open an independent bookstore, but there might never be a better time to open an independent bookstore in Toronto than right now.
Despite Indigo’s ubiquity and the undisputed reign of online retail, a handful of small, idiosyncratic shops have opened – and flourished – in the past couple of years. Type, perhaps the city’s most charming bookstore, is already a fixture in Trinity Bellwoods. The eccentric second-hand store The Monkey’s Paw is a destination on Dundas West. The Winnipeg-based McNally Robinson is scheduled to open its first Ontario location, in Don Mills, in 2008. Book City’s Frans Donker, who recently handed over the reins to his eldest son, has hinted at further expansion of his indie chain. And Ben McNally, the long-time manager of Front Street’s Nicholas Hoare Books, is unveiling his own eponymous store this week in the heart of the financial district.
I encourage every Toronto Ninja to go down to Ben’s place and class up the joint with your smelly patchuli Birks and/or smelly black Docs. Oh, and buy something.
Ms. Rowling, who lives in England, will make an appearance the morning of Oct. 23 at the Wintergarden Theatre in downtown Toronto. It’s an all-ages event hosted by Toronto’s International Festival of Authors and Rowling’s Canadian publisher, Vancouver-based Raincoast Books. Ms. Rowling will read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, entertain questions from fans and autograph complimentary copies of “Deathly Hallows.”
Tickets to the 950-seat venue are free. But to handle the expected demand, admission is being orchestrated through an online lottery and via Canadian libraries and the country’s 79 public and Catholic school boards.
OhmygodOhmyGodOhMyGOD! [Running in place while shaking hands nervously] I barely have time to stitch my Slythrin, much less get my Hufflepuff fluffed!
The Giller Prize, Canada’s premier fiction award, has released it’s longlist. No fears as with the Booker that these names won’t be recognized. Some ‘Ninja favs in there, including Lawrence Hill, Michael Winter, and recently made ‘Ninja Barbara Gowdy. Also nice to see a few small press titles in there from the likes of Arsenal Pulp and Brindle and Glass. Should be interesting to see who makes the shortlist. Let the carping and speculation commence!
I wish we had an extra “n” to work with and that this involved heavy globs of lead being shot between ships and forts, but it doesn’t. Sadly, there’s nary a pirate anywhere in the article. ‘Tis about academics. Yarr.
But many scholars see these changes as part of a necessary evolution. To Michael Bérubé, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University and the author of “What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?” (2006), the changes have been particularly beneficial in American literature, which has seen the most canon revision in part because it never had a very stable canon to begin with. “The old guard had very little to offer in the way of serious intellectual argument against the reading and teaching of … Olaudah Equiano or Djuna Barnes or Zora Neale Hurston, so the canon of the past two or three centuries got itself revised in fairly short order,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “Only the Department of Surly Curmudgeons still disputes that we’re dealing with a usefully expanded field.”
Reading lists, though, are a zero-sum game: for every writer added, another is dropped. One can debate the changing fortunes of writers on the literary stock market, but it’s clear that today the emphasis is on the recent past — at the expense, some argue, of historical perspective. As Alan Wolfe puts it, “Everyone’s read ‘Things Fall Apart’ ” — Chinua Achebe’s novel about postcolonial Nigeria — “but few people have read the Yeats poem that the title comes from.”
Somehow that feels like a bad example. I can’t imagine more people have read Achebe than Yeats. Though maybe sometime in the next 20 years, as our parents and grandparents kick off, that may indeed become the case.
Stephen Elliot calls for reviewers to stop considering authors‘ appearance and personality in their reviews. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially if you grew up intellectually during that whole French criticism thingamabob.
The problem is not with the author’s personality (or appearance), it’s with the readers and critics who pay too much attention to it. Focusing on a writer for not “humping his ego” has the same effect as focusing on writers who are outspoken, or attractive; they’re two sides of the same coin. What matters is the book, and the book has to stand on its own merit. What the author accomplishes, or doesn’t, outside of the book is fine for the gossip pages, but it doesn’t merit mentioning in a book review.
Profiled around a recently unearthed manuscript of sexual satire that may just go a tad too far for the time.
The plot of The Better Half revolves around the romantic lives of three characters, David, Marion and Alice. One of Alice’s lines, in particular, seems to have given the censor pause for thought, suggesting as it does the existence of a sex drive in womankind. Bold blue ink in the margin marks the moment when this character exclaims: ‘Just because your endeavours are egged on by women of the Marion type, who camouflage their desires for your body behind a transparent effusive admiration of your brain!’
‘The censor was obviously not sure about this bit, but then he let it go,’ said Hand. ‘Because it is comedy, Coward gets away with it, rather like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw before him. In fact, it is quite incisive social satire. You can see the same mordant sense of humour that you hear later in The Vortex or in Hay Fever.’