The Sun, a literate right wing broadsheet in New York, as opposed to the mouth-breathing right wing tabloidiot in Toronto, is closing it’s doors. “Again”.
The New York Sun is shutting down after running out of money, ending a six-year run in which the newspaper provided an alternative conservative voice in the city’s crowded media market.
Tuesday’s edition will be the paper’s last, newspaper spokesman Michael Moi said Monday. He declined to elaborate.
Editor Seth Lipsky had been scrambling to attract new investors for the paper, one that laid claim to a grand tradition by taking the name of the original New York Sun, a Pulitzer Prize-winning giant that published for more than a century before disappearing in a merger in 1950.
Part-time ‘Ninja Joseph Boyden and his partner Amanda Boyden sit down with another part-time ‘Ninja, Donna Bailey Nurse, at CBC to outline who wears the pants in the family. They both do. Or no one. Depending. Just kidding. They’re talking about race. And their books. Both of which you should run out and buy.
The Boydens wrote their latest novels sitting across from one another at the dining room table. “Amanda is very frank with me,” Joseph Boyden says. “I gave her the first 100 pages of [Through Black Spruce] before it was in its current state, and she put it down and said it’s not working. She was very direct. So we’re brutally honest. We have to be.”
Kids books getting numerical ratings like a Weight Watchers diet program? Ew. I’ve never heard of this. EwEwEw.
School has started. I can tell because frazzled parents drag their embarrassed children up to the reference desk at my library to ask, “Where are the fifth-grade books? We need a 5.6 level that’s worth at least 7 points.”I avoid frustrating both parties with an explanation of how the Dewey decimal system works, and ask the child, “What do you like to read?” The response from both adult and child is all too often a blank expression.
Although I am elated that many families are visiting my public library more frequently because schools send them, I am disturbed at how infrequently parents and teachers are allowing young readers to choose what to read.
During the summer, children were excited about reading because, freed from school requirements, they decided what to read. Being able to choose their favorite author, genre or topic seemed to empower them to read more. Now with school back in session, finding a book again involves navigating through a labyrinth of point values and reading levels.
How did it come to this?
Some life breathed back into the National Post’s books coverage. A weekly column for one of Canada’s great books critics. Of course, you have to flip past the (at least literate, granted) right wing pandering to get to Phil’s stuff, but it’s there! Glad to have him back on books, because he just didn’t seem to dig the movies gig at the Star.
Mostly we get sniffy about our favourite books being adapted to film, but besides the occasional odd choice, there’s quite a bit of art that goes into making these adaptations work at all in a given time and place. Like that adaptation of Anne of Green Gables that was done for 1976 San Franciso by Robert Mapplethorpe.
Philip Pullman writes on how much he enjoys the experience of having every fundamentalist Christian in the world gunning for you.
When I heard that my novel The Golden Compass (the name in the USA of Northern Lights) appeared in the top five of the American Library Association’s list of 2007’s most challenged books, my immediate and ignoble response was glee. Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn’t get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could. That, after all, was exactly what happened when a group called the Catholic League decided to object to the film of The Golden Compass when it was released at the end of last year. The box office suffered, but the book sales went up – a long way up, to my gratification.
Because they never learn. The inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone. Why don’t the censors realise this?
Margaret Atwood profiled in the Times around her new book, Payback, which is, coincidentally, she assures us, on debt. Sure, Peggy. We know you’re in with that Bilderberg set and looming over the horizon with your nimble puppet master’s fingers splayed.
“It was a coincidence,” she claims. “I chose this topic several years ago and then found myself writing the book while all this was happening – the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and these ads plastering the Underground: ‘We will help you with your debt’, ‘Why pay more?’, ‘Declare personal bankruptcy!’.”
But financial debt is not our biggest burden. In writing Payback Atwood became fascinated with a phrase spoken of the dead: “He has paid his debt to nature.” “It means you’ve borrowed something – the physical part of yourself made up of natural elements – and you’re paying it back by dissolving into nature. What else are we borrowing from nature and how do we repay it?” The book’s final chapter proposes an answer in strong terms.
The British publisher who decided to pick up Jewel of Medina, the novel that Random backed out on for concerns over terrorism, got a Molotov cocktail thrown through the front door of his flat in London. I have a hunch that his stance on the Whiteout sniffing issue at the school board meeting last week has come back to haunt him. I make light, because that’s what I do, but seriously: this is insane.
The London home of the publisher of a controversial new novel that gives a fictionalised account of the Prophet Muhammad’s relationship with his child bride, Aisha, was firebombed yesterday, hours after police had warned the man that he could be a target for fanatics.
A petrol bomb is believed to have been thrown through the door of Martin Rynja’s £2.5m town house in Islington’s Lonsdale Square, which also doubles as the headquarters of his publishing company, Gibson Square. Three men have been arrested on terrorism charges.
The Observer has learned that police told Rynja late on Friday night to leave his property. His company recently made headlines when it announced it was to publish The Jewel of Medina.
A DC comic imprint that was supposed to tap into the North American demand for Japanese Manga has folded and a British observer wonders why.
Although it does have some big hits, the manga industry is mostly a triumph of market segmentation: among the thousands of titles published every year in Japan, there is something for every conceivable taste. Coming out of this giant, delirious laboratory, a popular title may keep up such an intimate dialogue with its specific teenage audience that it is almost unintelligible to anyone else.
But that specific audience is Japanese, not American; and the odd result is that just as British kids of my generation grew up watching so much Saved By the Bell and Sweet Valley High that we talk about “jocks” and “proms” even though these barely exist within our direct experience, tomorrow’s Americans will be looking around for the otaku and bishonen that are supposed to populate every school. It’s nice to see cultural colonialism happening in reverse, and of course teenagers love to plunge into an esoteric world that makes no sense to their parents, but at the same time it does seem a bit ridiculous that an American 16-year-old can’t pick up a comic that more closely reflects her own life. So there was room out there for Minx; and if it failed, it may just have been that – boring issues of marketing and distribution aside – the quality wasn’t actually very high.
More important to ask is why can the Japanese take American culture and make it wild while the Americans can only take Japanese culture and water it down? I wonder if it has to do with the extent of which each nation is able to worship and revile both itself and the other.
Books on how we’re all about to end up tying kerchiefs over sticks, travelling to the nearest dilapidated bridge and cooking boots over a trash can fires are all the rage right now. I’m glad someone’s getting rich.
According to Viking, Bad Money sold 5,000 copies in the two days following Phillips’ appearance last week on the PBS television program Bill Moyers Journal. As of Thursday morning, the book was No.15 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list; followed by Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, at No.20; and, at No.23, Snowball, Alice Schroeder’s authorized biography of billionaire Warren Buffett, who announced this week he would invest at least $5 billion (figures U.S.) in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Don’t write about writing, it’ll only trap you, says Mark Ravenhill.
Whenever a novel starts with the character of a writer sitting in a Hampstead kitchen, struggling to finish a novel, I throw the book straight in the bin. I recognise where that impulse to write about writing comes from. From time to time, I find myself thinking of ideas for plays about screenwriters working in Hollywood, or actors putting on a play. This terrifies me. There has been some great writing about writing, terrific films about films, brilliant television about television. There’s an inevitability about the fact that Ricky Gervais began by telling us stories about an ordinary workplace (The Office), and then, once he was massively successful, moved on to stories about showbusiness (Extras). But this seems to me something of a dead end. If it’s a struggle to stay connected to the world as you get older and more established, I think it’s worth it.
Daily KOS has the scoop: it seems like an article suggesting that top Republicans are questioning Palin’s abilities got past the RahRahTeam censors at Fox and was briefly posted before being torn down again in a fit of right wing passion.
Fox News published a slightly uncharacteristic piece today: “Conservatives Begin Questioning Palin’s Heft.” You too may have tripped over this astonishing headline on Google News. And then, as I did, you may have actually clicked on the link, to discover that editors have decided that this article is a touch too fair and balanced for public consumption — it’s been pulled from the web.
Thankfully, the internet is full of wandering zombie articles people would rather stay buried. Brains… BRRAAAAAAINSSSS… Sssarraah Paaaalinnnnn hasss noooo BRAAAAAAINNNSSSSSSS!
Last day of crazy business at work, I hope, but obviously this kind of thing never ends.
- John Milton at 400…
- This autobiography could have been written by a monkey… instead it was a chimp
- The last days of DFW
- del Torro jumping on vampire book wagon
- Yann Martel profiled in the SMH, includes chatter over his campaign to get Stephen Harper reading
- Here’s John Doyle’s wicked rant against Harper’s “ordinary people” comment
Things should return to normal, in terms of posting, for Monday. See you then.
Well, you almost wouldn’t believe it. We all knew Harper was being divisive and trying estrange the Canadian public from artists, but who knew how backhanded his strategy would be. First, he tried to set up arts and culture producers, from dance companies to music groups to writers to painters, as whining, free-loading lefties taking the Canadian taxpayer for a ride. Then he tried to create a series of bogeymen, fringe artists whose art might scare some people into thinking Canada was being misrepresented on the world stage. And now he’s come right out and said that “ordinary Canadians” aren’t interested in the arts, calling the entire nigh $50billion dollar a year industry a “niche interest”. How insulting. Since when did Canadians let someone like Harper define what “ordinary” is. Who’s sitting in the ivory tower making pronouncements on the people below, Stephen? What amazes me is that more people aren’t incensed that Harper thinks he knows what goes on in their living rooms. Ask the people in your lives (parents, siblings, friends) who might not consider themselves artists or cultural workers: Is this true? Do you not listen to music? Do you not watch movies? TV? What’s on your walls? What do you not read? (Did you know non-fiction is part of “the arts”?) Ask them: When was the last time you saw me get dressed up and party at a gala? And then ask them, Do you think I’m not ‘ordinary people’?” Then tell them that what’s happening is they’re being used as pawns by a manipulative politician who has designed this who conflict in order to get votes by pitting Canadians against Canadians. Everyone from famous actors to Margaret Atwood are getting involved, but the real people who need to be spoken to aren’t reading those articles. They need to hear from you, ordinary Canadians, about how culture touches all our lives.
He was an elderly man and he had queued up with the people who were waiting for me to sign their books. When his turn came, he announced unapologetically, “I don’t read poetry. I write it. I’ve brought you a copy of my book.”
If he had been younger, I might not have been so polite. I smiled, took the book and thanked him. Later on a quick glance through the self-published volume confirmed what I already knew: the poems were no good. People who never read poetry don’t write poems that are worth reading.
Google is rising up like the mighty sleeping giant to clobber Amazon with its new service that will add extra hoohah to its competition with the big A’s search inside a book thingy. I don’t really understand. I feel like John McCain looking at this moving picture/radio/electric post office thing all the kids are watching today. To the Nerd Cave! They’ll know what to do! Wait, fool. Where are you going? You don’t just stroll in to a Nerd Cave unarmed. You get the whip, I’ll get the chair and we’ll go wrangle us a geek to explain it all.
Google has put out a cool update to its book search service that lets anyone embed entire books, or just book previews on their site. While aimed mainly at online retailers and educational institutes, it’s also a great way to drop entire public domain works onto your blog in case you want to give your visitors something more exciting to flip through than your latest ramblings.
The news comes alongside some partnerships including A1Books, Books-A-Million, and The Book Depository. When you’re viewing an indexed title on any of these sites you’ll see a Google preview link that lets you peruse the innards of the book without leaving the sale page. According to a post on Google’s Book Search blog, larger retailers including Powell’s Books, Borders and Buy.com will be added “in the coming weeks.”
Scott Pomfrett, who pens the “Romentics” series of gay romance/porn novels, was also a lector at his local god shop. Sounds like they even knew. Then he wrote a memoir and got kicked from the frying pan and into the friar. Don’t ask, don’t tell, Scott.
Scott Pomfret, a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission who described himself in his memoir as “a happy porn-writing Sodomite,” had served for eight years in various capacities at the shrine, even after he disclosed to the friars that he was an advocate of same-sex marriage and, with his partner, a published author of erotic works. His writings, most of which he coauthored with his partner, were not a secret – the pair had been profiled in the Globe and The New York Times magazine.
But Pomfret’s latest book, a sarcastic memoir titled “Since My Last Confession,” proved too much for the friars, many of whom were interviewed by Pomfret as he wrote the book. The book suggests that some local clergy, who are given fictional names, are sexually active, and is mocking toward Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston. The shrine’s executive director, the Rev. David Convertino, said some people had expressed concern about the appropriateness of Pomfret’s role at the church.
“There were people who felt it was incompatible for someone to stand up publicly and say, ‘I’m a pornographer, and I’m a lector at St. Anthony Shrine,’ ” Convertino said. “There’s a public stance that he’s taking, and it seems that most of this is to sell the book.”
- 5 under 35 (from Maud)
- CDN theatre prize includes playwrights, those least-huggable members of the drama school crowd
- Knife book wins Guardian kids prize
- Occasional ‘Ninja who-may-have-abandonned-us-because-he’s-now-rich-and-famous Steven Galloway profiled around Giller longlist
- Aussie PM awards
- New lit prize for young Latinas
- Literary translation prize not lucrative, but surely satisfying
- Looooong list for biggest kids prize
LM Montgomery’s family said she killed herself. Her biographer disagrees. Who knows more?
Dr. Rubio contends that the note very likely was the final page of a 176-page account of the years 1939-1942 that Montgomery expected one day to transcribe in more writerly fashion into her official journals. This had long been Montgomery’s methodology – write something on scraps of available paper, then at some point – sometimes years later – copy it into her journals.
In folding the note into his pocket on April 24, 1942, Montgomery’s son “would not have known” that 175 other pages were somewhere in the house, which Montgomery prophetically called “Journey’s End” when she bought it in 1935. Rather, he “interpreted this page as a single stand-alone note written solely to explain her final despondency, and it is easy to see why he did.”
Dr. Rubio notes that the other 175 pages have never been found and, among several scenarios, suggests that Chester Macdonald “very likely” discovered them after the removal of her mother’s body, and destroyed or hid them. Mr. Macdonald, who died at 51 in 1964, had unimpeded access to all parts of the house. He knew his mother’s writing habits and “he had good reason to think” whatever she had written “would contain much about him,” very likely highly negative.
You know, says the reluctant blogger as he flits through his iPod, I’d really like to have been at this particular live performance of Lola by The Kinks. I can imagine “joining” so few things, but yelling L-O-L-A LOLA! in that jumping crowd would have been fun. Sigh. I guess I better get at it.
- Osama the poet
- Medieval books online including parts of The Canterbury Tales
- Is e-lit a big ant-e-climax? (faw faw faw… oh yeesss! Rah-tha!)
- Fighting puritanism in publishing garners Grove’s Barney Rosset a lifetime achievement award
- Adichie wins $500G MacArthur Genius fellowship
- IFOA has Irish authors this year… I’d love to see Paul Durcan, myself, though he’s not mentioned in the CBC article
- On the endurance of Poe
The reluctant blogger, having shoddily fulfilled his public service obligations for the morning, muses on the genius of shuffling, and how it really is perfect that Tom Waits’ instrumental Closing Time can come right after the Violent Femmes’ American Music. This is how we hold the day.
The SMH looks into Shakespeare’s additions to the langauge, while the Times has a piece on some words that are endangered and how you can help save them.
It may appear agrestic to ask, but The Times is calling on its readers to come to the rescue of words that risk fading into caliginosity.
Dictionary compilers at Collins have decided that the word list for the forthcoming edition of its largest volume is embrangled with words so obscure that they are linguistic recrement. Such words, they say, must be exuviated abstergently to make room for modern additions that will act as a roborant for the book.
Readers who vilipend the compilers’ decision and vaticinate that society will be poorer without little-used words have been offered a chance to save them from the endangered list Collins, which is owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Times, has agreed that words will be granted a reprieve if evidence of their popularity emerges before February, when the word list is finalised.
- Young upstart author PD James profiled at the CBC
- Do we name “the best” too often?
- Commentary on yesterday’s audio book perils article in Slate
- McCain campaign headhunts Obama’s pun writer
- Netflix for magazines?
- Larkin’s lighter side comes out in his cartoons (it was a pleasure to read these when I got my Poetry this month… Makes me want to start doodling again)
Jonathan Bennett’s new novel, Entitlement, is a must-read of the Fall book circuit. Hot off the press, Entitlement plays in the sandboxes of the big guys—the wealthy.
Jonathan Bennett is also the acclaimed author of Verandah People, After Battersea Park, Here is my street, this tree I planted. He has recently won the KM Hunter Award. I sat down with him this summer in the breezy air-conditioned space of cyberia to speak on the topic of Entitlement and entitlement.
Hey guys, I’m having an insane week, even working evenings and whatnot to keep up, so I’ll post a digest form of the links for the next couple days. Things should cool off soon. If they don’t, I would suggest looking for my body in the harbour.
What happens when you leave everything scary out of fairy tales? You get the generation of kids we have coming up who think life owes them something, that’s what. Whippersnappers!
Yet something important is lost when a child’s introduction to fairy tales comes in such whitewashed form. It’s not just Rapunzel: In toys, movies, and books, the old fairy tales are being systematically stripped of their darker complexities. Rapunzel has become a lobotomized girl in a pleasant tower playroom; Cinderella is another pretty lady in a ball gown, like some model on “Project Runway.”
“Fairy tale” may be our shorthand for castles and happy endings, but these classic stories have villains, too – nefarious witches, bloodthirsty wolves, stepmothers up to no good. And scholars have come to see the stories’ dark elements as the source of their power, not to mention their persistence over the centuries. Rich in allegory, endlessly adaptable, fairy tales emerged as a framework for talking about social issues. When we remove the difficult parts – and effectively do away with the stories themselves – we’re losing a surprisingly useful common language.
For many years, my family has kept a troubling secret. What has made things even more difficult is the fact that the person it involves was not only my grandmother, but one of Canada’s most beloved authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, is still a bestseller after 100 years. In addition to Anne, my grandmother wrote 19 other novels, personal journals and hundreds of short stories and poems. As well, she has been the subject of several biographical studies.
Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.
What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.
Is tenure good for writing? (regarding the MFA pyramid scheme in the US)
For most of us, the options aren’t teaching or writing all day in a barn but teaching or working at the Dairy Queen. It’s not just a question of success or even genius, but temperament and discipline. Young writers think all they need is time, but give them that time and watch them implode. After all, there’s something basically insane about sitting at a desk and talking to yourself all day, and there’s a reason that writers are second only to medical students in instances of hypochondria. In isolation, our minds turn on us pretty quickly. I have two writer friends, successful novelists who could afford not to teach, who insist that rather than detract from their writing, their lives as professors are what allow them to write, and that given more free time, they would crumble. The job provides a safety net above the abyss of facing the difficulty of creating every day, making an irrational thing feel more rational.
Yet no matter how much support you have, how many schedules you make or how many books you’ve written before, there remains the basic irrationality of the task: you are sitting by yourself trying to make something out of nothing, and you rarely know where you’re going next. Creating your own world is an invitation to solipsism, if not narcissism, and as well as being alone when we work, we are left, for the most part, to judge by ourselves if we have succeeded or failed in our tasks. (Three guesses in which direction we most often lean.) My father succinctly summarized his feelings about my choice to dedicate my 20s to writing fiction. “You’re not living in the real world,” he said. I reacted with a young man’s defensiveness, but in retrospect his assessment seems less critical than a matter of fact.
In general, the easiest way to locate the Humor section in any bookstore is to go through the front entrance of the bookstore and to the farthest point from the entrance. That’s where the Humor section will be.
If the bookstore has a second floor, the Humor section will be on the second floor, at the farthest point from the entrance. If the second floor has a window that can be jimmied open, and there’s a ledge outside, the Humor section will be at the very end of the ledge.
Sometimes the Humor section is in another building entirely, like an old, burned-out warehouse. If so, it will be in the back of the warehouse, behind some boards.
Because of its remoteness, it is a good idea to make a lot of noise when you approach the Humor section, to avoid surprising people engaged in a sex act. More prostitutes are arrested in Humor sections than in any other part of the bookstore.
Around this time of year people start talking about literacy, mostly because they have to help their kids with homework, I think.
Ninja-Boy, who’s five and just started kindy, has nothing to worry about in this regard—-he started reading his first words at three, and he keeps synonym, antonym, homonym, rhyme and alliteration collections. Each separate. If you said to him, “Hey, here’s Harold!” He’d mime throwing something over his shoulder into a sack and say, “Cha-ching! It’s in my alliteration collection!” A couple years ago when he first started this (it was homonyms first, then synonyms), my dad said something to him that included a synonym. “Cha-ching! It’s in my synonym collection,” he said in his squeaky little three-year-old voice. My dad looked at me, “He has a cinnamon collection?” “No, Papa,” he said. “Syn-o-nym. It’s when two words mean the same thing but sound different.” My dad looked at me again like when I was teenager and he suspected I was doing drugs (me?). “Sin-o-men?” he asked suspiciously. So much for the new generations always being less educated. I would guess that’s only so in families that have long been in the middle class. (P.S. Regarding Scholastic: my son calls the catalogues that come home from school fortnightly “my magazine”… He keeps them beside his carseat so he has travel reading. it’s kind of like Maxim for hyper-literate five-year-olds.)
Print-on-demand services appear at first blush to be the same as traditional vanity publishers, printing houses where authors can pay to have their work printed. However, the web-based interface of print-on-demand reduces the time and expense involved in getting a book to print and also helps to get the book placed with online retailers. Another key difference is that, while many vanity publishers may insist on an author paying for a set number of copies, many print-on-demand services will only print up as many copies of a book as have been ordered.
Traditionally, book publishers could be held liable for defamatory statements in their books under the theory that they exercised some form of control over the books’ contents. But online print-on-demand companies typically provide printing and distribution services only, and do not perform the traditional editing, fact-checking and marketing functions associated with other publishers. Sandler v. Calcagni appears to be the first case in which someone has argued that a print-on-demand company should face traditional “publisher” liability.
Giles Foden argues that Annie Proulx shouldn’t get huffy about x-rated fan fiction starring her chilly-handed/warm-thighed cowboys because she already ceded creative control to a film production.
“There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story,’ she told the Wall Street Journal. ‘They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for ‘fixing’ the story. They certainly don’t get the message that if you can’t fix it, you’ve got to stand it.”
The complaint is well put, though I suppose one must see the 2005 adaptation of Brokeback Mountain itself as a “fixing” of the story. In more ways than one, too: under one light, film adaptations tend to concentrate a literary text, reducing it to a supposed core, often based on some idea of psychological essence or narrative structure. What was unusual about Brokeback Mountain the film is that it expanded the original. This isn’t necessarily a virtue either. As my friend John Mullan said to me after seeing it, “Long film, short story”.
In another light, adaptations fix a story in a negative sense: they set it up for commercial exploitation, “affixing” it to some preprepared notion of film as product rather than artwork.
“NASCAR Cancels Remainder Of Season Following David Foster Wallace’s Death” I think Wallace might have got a kick out of this.
Shock, grief, and the overwhelming sense of loss that has swept the stock car racing community following the death by apparent suicide of writer David Foster Wallace has moved NASCAR to cancel the remainder of its 2008 season in respect for the acclaimed but troubled author of Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.
In deference to the memory of Wallace, whose writing on alienation, sadness, and corporate sponsorship made him the author of the century in stock car racing circles and whom NASCAR chairman Brian France called “perhaps the greatest American writer to emerge in recent memory, and definitely our most human,” officials would not comment on how points, and therefore this year’s championship, would be determined.
At least for the moment, drivers found it hard to think about the Sprint Cup.
The Kenyon Review offers this insightful, patchwork essay on our dear old friend, The Rejection Letter. Oh, fond friend, how I miss thee. Your margin-challenged, firmly worded boilerplate swimming in that number 10 envelope with my own handwriting on the front… I know, some of this is my fault. I’m ready to take that responsibility on. It was indeed I who stopped submitting work to journals years ago—-so, yes, we don’t see each other enough. Let’s get together soon, shall we? I tell you what, I’ll gather some poems to send to the New Yorker, and we’ll have lunch in about three months, ‘kay? (Thanks, AB)
Why do editors say no, anyway? Well, I cannot, of course, speak for All Editors, and I cannot even properly speak for myself, because I reject some pieces from a murky inarticulate intuitive conviction that they’re just not our speed, but there are some general truths to note. We say no because we don’t print that sort of material. We say no because the topic is too far afield. We say no because we have printed eleven pieces of just that sort in the past year alone. We say no because the writing is poor, muddled, shallow, shrill, incoherent, solipsistic, or insane. We say no because we have once before dealt with the writer and still shiver to remember the agony which we swore to high heaven on stacks of squirrel skulls never to experience again come hell or high water. We say no sometimes because we have said yes too much and there are more than twenty pieces in the hopper and none of them will see the light of day for months and the last of the ones waiting may be in the hopper for more than two years, which will lead to wailing and the gnashing of teeth. We say no because if we published it we would be sued by half our advertisers. We say no because we know full well that this is one of the publisher’s two howling bugabears, the other one being restoring American currency to the silver standard. We say no because we are grumpy and have not slept properly and are having dense and complex bladder problems. We say no because our daughters came home yesterday with Mohawk haircuts and boyfriends named Slash. We say no because Britney Spears has sold more records worldwide than Bruce Springsteen. We say no for more reasons than we know.
Unfortunately, this is also where, I assure you, it dies a hideous, painful death. Of course, this article isn’t about The __________ Review, your alma mater’s student-run journal where people write about their roomate’s socks and love poems to porn stars. It’s about archives and awesomeness and … Andrew Motion. And of course, the subtext here is… what? That the internet is out performing the book. Aaaaand… we’re back. Phew. That was a nice jog around the track, eh?
The British-based Poetry Archive has released statistics that visitors to its website are now viewing a total of more than one million pages a month.
More than 125,000 individuals – or unique users – have visited the site, which hosts poems and audio readings by the poets themselves.
Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate, who co-founded the Poetry Archive in 2005, said of the figures: “It’s giving the lie to the idea that nobody reads poems any more.”
He thought the internet was providing a better medium for poetry than books. “Either books have not been doing the job or they are being outmanoeuvred by the internet.”
A novel suggestion (faw faw faw) for how to organize your shelves: set it up so the spine texts form witty sentences. I’d probably kill myself ten minutes after chuckling. Strikes me as one of the loneliest thing one could do, after watching TV in a hotel room. I think the 25 minutes I spent on my fridge’s Magnetic Poetry mess, which I haven’t touched in five years, will be enough boredom-blasting cleverness for me, thank you very much.
Bibliophiles have tried alphabetical by author, by title, by publisher, by genre, by size … Sarah Crown covered ‘em all in her Guardian blog of 2006. But the latest book organisation method making them all Dewey-eyed on the internet is to sort them so the titles form a (fairly) coherent sentence, phrase or message.
The Sorted Book Project is the brainchild of multi-media artist Nina Katchadourian, who says she has been “grouping the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence” since 1993. It’s been a slow-burner, but in recent months its been taken up by various bloggers and many of the results can now be seen on the photo sharing site Flickr.
Eoin Colfer will pen a sixth Hitchhiker’s Guide book. This is either mind-bogglingly great news or the very end of us all. Of course, there’s nothing stopping it from being both.
Colfer, who has been a fan of Hitchhiker since his schooldays, said being given the opportunity to continue the series was “like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice”. “For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world,” he added. “It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin.”
The book will “make no claims for Eoin being Douglas”, according to Prior. “It’s not Eoin Colfer writing as Douglas Adams, as was the case with Sebastian Faulks,” she said, pointing to Penguin’s successful publication of Faulks’s new James Bond novel Devil May Care earlier this year. “It’s absolutely about him being himself – Eoin the author, but with the cast of Hitchhiker.”
Colfer himself is currently grappling with nerves over the quality of his addition to Adams’ oeuvre. “I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books, and that is why I am bloody determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written,” he said. “For the first time in decades I feel the uncertainty that I last felt in my teenage years. There are people out there that really want to like this book.”
- Dylan Thomas Prize for Raucous Drunks Young Writers announcshes schortlichsstIloveyouman
- Debut novel award for Aussies
- Kushner gets the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award ($200Gs!!)
- And some Giller coverage in the Globe
“The long list – 12 men, three women – was chosen from 95 books submitted by 38 publishers for consideration by this year’s three judges – 1996 Giller-winner Margaret Atwood, former Ontario premier and current federal Liberal MP Bob Rae and Irish novelist/short-story writer Colm Toibin.
As usual, books by large and mostly foreign-owned firms dominated the long list, which has been a Giller “tradition” only since 2006 when prize founder Jack Rabinovitch and its corporate sponsor, Scotiabank, announced they would henceforth publish a long list of not less than 10 titles but not more than 15.
As usual, too, the list, while stocked with familiar names, has some notable absences, including The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews, Fred Stenson’s The Great Karoo, Asylum by André Alexis and Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot. All four authors had previously been short-listed for the Giller.”
Part time ‘Ninja Sheila writes to say there’s a Toronto memorial for David Foster Wallace on Friday along Queen West.
“On Friday September 19th starting at 9 pm, we will spend an hour in silence to mourn the great writer, David Foster Wallace. This ceremony will occur in Trinity Bellwoods Park, in the big pit, on the hill. All are welcome.”
Apparently, sex is still joyful even when those doing it are on motorcycles or the phone. More importantly, it’s not just done by sketched-in hippies that look like your dad and mom. Mmphfft. Excuse me, I just barfed in my mouth a little.
But the new edition has been brought fully up to date – for the first time by a female author, who, while praising the original author Dr Alex Comfort, says there was much that needed changing.
“Back in ‘72 they didn’t know about hormones, about pheromones, they didn’t know about certain body parts and their importance, which we now know,” said author and relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam.
“A lot of research has been done. But also the whole attitude to sex has changed,” she said.
The new book is aimed at the couple, rather than just the men, and includes many new entries including advice on internet and phone sex, sex shops and intercourse during pregnancy.
I know, I know. The second one today. But this is a feature article in New York Magazine, so I guess I have to bring it to your attention. Have we reached the end of publishing?
The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century—through wars and depressions—the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace. It’s one of the main (some would say only) advantages of working in a “mature” industry: no unsustainable highs, no devastating lows. A stoic calm, peppered with a bit of gallows humor, prevailed in the industry.
Survey New York’s oldest culture industry this season, however, and you won’t find many stoics. What you will find are prophets of doom, Cassandras in blazers and black dresses arguing at elegant lunches over What Is to Be Done. Even best-selling publishers and agents fresh from seven-figure deals worry about what’s coming next. Two, five years from now—who knows? Life moves fast in the waning era of print; publishing doesn’t.
So what’s causing this, exactly—this inchoate dread that’s suddenly turned “choate,” as one insider puts it? The anxiety would be endurable if it was just a function of the late-Bush economy: Sales at the five big publishers were up 0.5 percent in the first half of this year, bookstore sales tanked in June, and a full-year decline is expected. But pretty much every aspect of the business seems to be in turmoil. There’s the floundering of the few remaining semi-independent midsize publishers; the ouster of two powerful CEOs—one who inspired editors and one who at least let them be; the desperate race to evolve into e-book producers; the dire state of Borders, the only real competitor to Barnes & Noble; the feeling that outrageous money is being wasted on mediocre books; and Amazon .com, which many publishers look upon as a power-hungry monster bent on cornering the whole business.
One by one, these would be difficult problems to solve. But as a series of interrelated challenges, they constitute a full-blown crisis—a climate change as unpredictable as it is inevitable. And like global warming, it elicits reactions ranging from denial to Darwinian survivalism to determined stabs at warding off disaster—attempts not to recapture some long-lost era but to harness new, untapped sources of power. That is, if it’s not too late.
As the leaves begin to turn and another election season draws to a close, the term “presumptive” has once again readied itself for a four-year repose in obscurity and restful slumber. Plucked from the recesses of the English language to serve for the brief but heady interval between the first presidential primaries and the party nominating conventions, the elegant adjective has toiled earnestly these past nine months, scurrying through the lips and pens of journalists the world over, and shall now retire for a spell, far from the public eye.
In a recent interview, Roth was asked what he thought of some of those adaptations, starting with “Elegy,” a reworking of his novel “The Dying Animal” that came out this year and attracted little attention, even though it starred Penelope Cruz.
“I think Penelope Cruz is very good. That’s what I think,” he says, declining further comment.
What about “The Human Stain,” starring Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins and released in 2003?
“Portnoy’s Complaint,” a 1972 bomb starring Richard Benjamin and Karen Black?
From advertising to literature—-fiction’s non-unionized conveyor belt factory, and purportedly nice guy, profiled at the Independent.
Over the years Patterson has focused on telling compelling stories rather than writing good sentences. He never set out to write Ulysses (which he has read three times), but mass-market, commercial fiction. And for a long while he didn’t take this that seriously. Patterson’s day job was in advertising. By the age of 39 he was appointed chief executive of J Walter Thompson, North America – the youngest in the firm’s history. He attributes his success largely to the sudden death of his then-partner Jane from a brain tumour. “I didn’t want to spend any time dealing with life – just work, nothing else.” However, advertising was never a great love. “I got to the point of hiring people I liked to be around, but there were too many layers and too many people who really didn’t know what they were doing. And it was too silly to get nutty about – Jesus, it’s a frigging cereal.”
In Britain this year, Patterson’s name will appear on 10 original works. All will be bestsellers and most will be number ones. No wonder he doesn’t have time to pen every word – but to accuse him of not writing his own books is entirely to miss the point. “There is a kind of Mickey Mouse way of looking at brands. In particular in the States, a lot of the publishing houses are lost in the Middle Ages, they really don’t have a clue. I remember initially it was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to hurt the brand by doing other kinds of stories.’ And I said, here’s what I think a brand is, from my own experience with dealing with a lot of brands – a brand is just a connection between something and a lot of people who use or try that product.
“If there is a brand that’s called James Patterson, and I suppose there is, it’s that when you pick up a Patterson book you’ll not be able to stop reading. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a romantic story, a young-adult book, or non-fiction.”
Some speculation that Tess, yes, that Tess, the of the D’Urbervilles one, may have been inspired by the lady in the picture herein. And of course with a paper like the Times, you can click on a link that sends you back to the original review of Tess and Hardy’s thank you letter for the review.
By the time that the family outing was captured on film in the early 1920s, she was stout and middle-aged. But the white-haired matriarch with the picnic basket may have been the inspiration for Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Augusta Way was an 18-year-old Dorset milkmaid when she caught the eye of the novelist Thomas Hardy, who was 48 at the time. Three years later, in 1891, he published what many consider one of the finest tragic novels.
Two articles here that look at the changing landscape for literature: the first through the lens of the genre itself, under seige from a fragmented world of sub-soundbyte infosnatches, the second from the perspective of a perhaps dwindling breed, the editor.
Another death-of-the-book-at-the-hands-of-the-internet article, at the Independent, asks, presumably for the benefit of the recently awoken extended coma victims of the world, whether the book can survive the internet:
A transatlantic debate is currently raging about whether a decade of staring at computer screens, sending emails and text messages, and having our research needs serviced instantly by Google and Wikipedia, has taken a terrible toll on our attention, until our brains have been reconfigurated and can no longer adjust the tempo of our mental word-processing to let us read a book all the way through.
An important contribution to the debate was Nicholas Carr’s Atlantic Monthly article “Is Google Making us Stupid?”, in which he reports that he can no longer connect with long articles or books the way he used to; the intensity of focus and concentration that used to see him “immersed” in connecting sentences has dissipated. And the villain to whom blame can be attributed is the internet.
“As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s,” writes Carr, “media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
While over at the Telegraph, they riff, around Giroux’s death, on a seldom examined aspect—-the plight of the editor:
Much is made, in the age of online democracy, about the probable demise of the editor – about letting the work speak for itself without mediation or hindrance. Whether the unexpurgated internet can ever produce a Kerouac or a Lowell won’t, one suspects, be known for a long time yet; and maybe editors and cyberspace aren’t incompatible.
But if the life of a dedicated and sensitive editor shows us anything, it must be that even books by the most brilliant of writers are far more collaborative than we allow. As Giroux recollected saying to the not entirely easy-going writer Djuna Barnes, “You have to trust someone, Miss Barnes. Why not trust me?”