That audible pop you just heard was created by the air rushing in to fill the vacuum of my interest in Marvel. Goodbye, Wolverine. It was good while it lasted. For the record, you were way better in bed than Spiderman, but not nearly as good as Rogue. (Cue montage of George and Hugh Jackman walking down the beach holding hands and set to Jewel’s “Foolish Games”.) (From BoingBoing)
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.
Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.
Back in May, CBC arts and culture radio program Q (that also has a youtube/tv component), interviewed Chip Kidd about books and book design, but I just saw it come up in Ninja reader (and awesome Canadian book designer) Ingrid’s Facebook feed.
Scotland is divided over the astonishing and brave Kelman rant from last week, as you’d expect. Some people want to look at it as a genre/lit fiction divide, but here’s a piece looking at the greater social implications for a post-colonial literary tradition. No wait, don’t switch to that bubble game you play for hours when you think I’m not looking. It’s actually more interesting than that sounds.
There is an unspoken rule among Scottish writers that we don’t slag each other off in public. The rule runs thus: coming, as we do, from a small, colonised nation, we automatically find ourselves marginalised by literary London and must fight doubly hard to gain the recognition abroad that is granted to English writers. While we may express private reservations about the work of another writer, we don’t scupper their chances by saying this publicly. After all, each of us takes enough of that from critics.
There is another to level to this, however, about the ways in which any country’s indigenous literature – especially those of smaller or post-colonial nations – is threatened by the commercial imperative to produce page-turning, airport-friendly thrillers. A third level concerns the collusion of the literary establishment in this. It’s certainly the case that the books editors of broadsheet newspapers will bemoan the fact that we’re not all reading Tolstoy, while providing acres of coverage to crime writers. Genre fiction doesn’t need highbrow attention in order to sell by the bucketload, yet editors must cover it precisely because it is so visible. This crowds out more risk-taking writers, for whom a single review from a perceptive critic can provide a career breakthrough.
It is galling, then, that a country like Scotland, home to an enormous, bristling, experimental tradition which includes James Hogg, Alexander Trocchi, Hugh McDiarmid, Muriel Spark, Edwin Morgan, Tom Leonard, Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner, Ali Smith, James Robertson and Kelman himself, is marketed to tourists as the home of Rebus and Potter.
A reading program for kids in the US leaves this this mother/author (mauthor?) with a bad taste in her mouth. Ah, collecting points. Just like eating and professional sports, our need for accumulation can turn anything joyous into brutal competition and crushing defeat.
Accelerated Reader, introduced in 1986, is currently used in more than 75,000 schools, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The Web site for Renaissance Learning, which owns the program, describes it as a way to build “a lifelong love of reading and learning.” As a novelist and mother of three passionate readers, I’m all for that. But when I looked closer at how the program helps “guide students to the right books,” as the Web site puts it, I was disheartened.
Many classic novels that have helped readers fall in love with story, language and character are awarded very few points by Accelerated Reader. “My Antonia” is worth 14 points, and “Go Tell It on the Mountain” 13. The previous school year, my daughter had complained that some of her reading choices that I thought were pretty audacious — long, well-written historical novels like Libba Bray’s “Great and Terrible Beauty” and Lisa Klein’s “Ophelia,” recommended by her college-age sister — were worth only 14 points each. “Sense and Sensibility” is worth 22.
“You have to read the Harry Potter books” she said, exasperated. “They have all the points.”
She was right.
Sebastian Faulks added one of those iridescent, unidentifiable multi-colour feathers (pheasant?) to his old man’s hatband by saying the internet is a great place for shopping but cannot be the home to serious thinking. Aw, isn’t that cute? Just adorable! And fascinating. We’re getting a real treat here, folks: the chance to witness firsthand the creation of bewildered old man. The intricate-yet-sublimely-predictable dance of life continues its endless, beautiful cycle. Let’s watch…!
“There is probably a net loss of knowledge inside our heads,” he says. “It worries me but I am trying not to sound despondent. The internet is good for quick checking or buying a pair of shoes but as a repository of deeper thought and wisdom it has some way to go.”
For the author of such a savage portrait of the times, Faulks sounds quite blithe and easy-going. His agreeably mournful face does not seem creased with anxiety. For every darkness he exposes, except perhaps for the psychotic effects of skunk, he has a counterbalance.
Online networking sites and addictive role-play computer games are worrying, but access to knowledge is easier. Not all bankers and hedge fund managers are as rapacious as the inhuman Veals.
“I am just saying: this is where we are. There are quite serious dangers. At the same time, I am not altogether despondent or pessimistic about how this will turn out because we are, if nothing else, an adaptable species.
“I am not preaching, in so far as I don’t have an answer. The only people who have answers are religious people and politicians. I’m neither religious not political. All I am offering is a vague humanistic thing. It may sound soppy to say love is the answer, it is more complicated than that – but it helps.”
Assigning books to kids, especially teens, is driving them away from reading. How about letting them pick their own books for a change and teaching AROUND the drivel? So crazy it just might work. Ms. McNeill rocks!
The approach Ms. McNeill uses, in which students choose their own books, discuss them individually with their teacher and one another, and keep detailed journals about their reading, is part of a movement to revolutionize the way literature is taught in America’s schools. While there is no clear consensus among English teachers, variations on the approach, known as reading workshop, are catching on.
In New York City many public and private elementary schools and some middle schools already employ versions of reading workshop. Starting this fall, the school district in Chappaqua, N.Y., is setting aside 40 minutes every other day for all sixth, seventh and eighth graders to read books of their own choosing.
In September students in Seattle’s public middle schools will also begin choosing most of their own books. And in Chicago the public school district has had a pilot program in place since 2006 in 31 of its 483 elementary schools to give students in grades 6, 7 and 8 more control over what they read. Chicago officials will consider whether to expand the program once they review its results.
None of those places, however, are going as far as Ms. McNeill.
Value-added linkage: UK kids laureate says it’s not happy endings we need, it’s better teachers.
We live in a time when it seems we just can’t get enough interesting tidbits. Whatever happened to not knowing things? I miss those days. Now that I know pretty much everything, I mostly slake my insatiable curiosity on DVD bonus features with vapid actors. (Spoiler alert: quickest way to ruin the film adaptation of Lord of the Rings? Listen to Elijah Wood speak as someone other than Frodo.)
The Google toolbar hovers a few inches up and to the right from everyone’s center of vision, ready to drop a cascade of optimized search results. The text of books can be delivered to a touchscreen mobile phone. And even so, people are going out and buying paper volumes of facts, printed in unchanging ink, to keep on a shelf. What’s behind this seemingly backward turn?
These new books are not reference books, at least not in the sense that you would refer to one of them to answer a question. “Schott’s Original” has a terse index and no table of contents; “The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information” has a vague table of contents and no index. “We keep them mostly in the gifts section,” Sullivan said.
In a world where useful and important answers come looking for you, it is the idea of unimportance that is the primary selling point of the miscellanies. The books promise to guide the reader somewhere older and slower, to create a little world in which information can serve as amusement rather than currency. A carefully done miscellany appears random, but it achieves a sort of quiet intellectual bustle, set apart from the roar of the daily info-chaos. The miscellanies are information as art, and art for art’s sake.
This is a question worth asking? I mean, I think we all know: Mr. Mbeki Johnson, Branch Manager of the National Bank of Nairobi, and account broker for Africa’s recently deceased upper class, who writes you in the name and love of GOD, dearest one. Duh. The Guardian considers other possibilities, however remote, here.
Critics point out that, by giving Google the right to commercially exploit its database, the settlement paves the way for a subtle shift in the company’s role from provider of information to seller. “Google’s business model has always been to provide information for free, and sell advertising on the basis of the traffic this generates,” points out James Grimmelmann, associate professor at New York Law School. Now, he says, because of the settlement’s provisions, Google could become a significant force in bookselling.
Interest in this aspect of the settlement has focused on “orphan” works, where there is no known copyright holder – these make up an estimated 5% to 10% of the books Google has scanned. Under the settlement, when no rights holders come forward and register their interest in a work, commercial control automatically reverts to Google. Google will be able to display up to 20% of orphan works for free, include them in its subscription deals to libraries and sell them to individual buyers under the consumer licence.
“The deal has in effect handed Google a swath of intellectual copyright. It is a mammoth potential bookselling market,” says Blofeld. He adds it is no surprise that Amazon, which currently controls 90% of the digital books market, is becoming worried.
- Bookslut Jessa gets some love in Australia, where she’s been hired to hang around and be awesome
- New Yorker gets a 26-year-old managing editor who started as a fact checker, proving once again that perseverance pays off
- Apparently people actually spend some of their time on Earth speculating what book The Orpah will pick next… I guess I shouldn’t talk
- New online bookstore that emerged from network of reading groups
- This is why I write online—apparently your handwriting can offer a viable means of lie detection—I’d probably set this thing off every time I signed a cheque
Apparently it’s a rotator cuff injury. Oh, and good-natured sportsmanship to not compete with young’uns/friends. Classy lady, she is.
Giller Prize organizers have reluctantly scratched a much-anticipated contest between Canada’s two reigning literary heavyweights after one of the expected contenders, short story writer Alice Munro, withdrew her latest collection, Too Much Happiness (out this week), from consideration for the 2009 award.
The 78-year-old writer’s decision has disappointed literary punters hoping for a close contest for this year’s prize between Munro and veteran novelist Margaret Atwood, author of The Year of the Flood (out in September), which is sure to be nominated.
“Her reason is that she has won twice and would like to leave the field to younger writers,” Munro’s publisher, Douglas Gibson, confirmed this week. “In my role as greedy publisher I pointed out that the Giller Prize produces so much publicity, that even to be nominated for it is tremendous publicity,” he said. “But her mind is made up on this. Alice preferred to withdraw from the competition.”
Reading Rainbow is being tossed on history’s scrapheap. Levar, Nooooo!! Mediabistro has started a Twitter hashtag (#savereadingrainbow) to brainstorm on how to keep it going outside of tv.
Reading Rainbow comes to the end of its 26-year run on Friday; it has won more than two-dozen Emmys, and is the third longest-running children’s show in PBS history — outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.
The show, which started in 1983, was hosted by actor LeVar Burton. (If you don’t know Burton from Reading Rainbow, he’s also famous for his role as Kunta Kinte in Roots, or as the chrome-visored Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.)
Each episode of Reading Rainbow had the same basic elements: There was a featured children’s book that inspired an adventure with Burton. Then, at the end of every show, kids gave their own book reviews, always prefaced by Burton’s trademark line: “But you don’t have to take my word for it …”
- Guardian first book award long list
- Wuthering Heights, in traditional undead fashion, has risen again… thanks to vampires
- Publishers pitching authors to video site on basis of looks… You’re surprised?
- I hope this means my kids will be drug-addled rock stars one day… No, wait, that’s what i wanted for me…
- Speaking of rock and roll—the best rock bands you’ll never hear
Clive Thompson writes in Wired that contrary to popular belief, literacy is in no danger from technology. In fact, it’s undergoing a revoultion of historical proportions. What do you think? I think this is one of those polarizing arguments where you either get and agree with some of his points or you wear an onion on your belt.
“I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,” she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.
The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That’s because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.
It’s almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.
But is this explosion of prose good, on a technical level? Yes. Lunsford’s team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.
- Slate says the best way to compete against the Kindle is to look at what iPod competitors have done and do the opposite
- Sony warns that ebook prices have to come down
- Smiths undercuts Waterstones on Sony eReader prices… Oh no they di’nt!
- Europe does something with restrictions around putting books onli—zzzzzzzzzzz
- Courts’ fingers wiggle themselves knucklesworth further up Amazon’s ass
Okay, fine. Spit on my twenties. Not sure if I’m laughing at the video or me.
‘Ninja favorite Lawrence Hill skips past how stupid it is to ban TKaM, and zeros in on a deeper issue: why is Harper Lee’s masterpiece about slavery and black issues filling the role of token on the Canadian school lists? Aren’t there more stories to be told? And didn’t some of them happen here?
Let’s give To Kill a Mockingbird its due. It’s a well-told, energetic, believable story. It concerns itself with issues of wilful blindness and social injustice. It’s vital introduction to mid-20th century American society and literature.
But I, too, have a problem with the novel, or rather, with its overuse in our schools. Over and over, I have seen To Kill a Mockingbird handed to Canadian high school students as the one and only book they will be asked to read in class about racism, segregation and the experiences of black people. Certainly, it is the only such book that my own two daughters were asked to read in high school.
Why is this unacceptable? For one reason, the book doesn’t even focus on black people. It presents the lives of white people, and how they behave – some well, and others badly – in a racist world.
It reminds me of the recent film Amazing Grace, which dramatizes the abolition of the British slave trade without featuring a single important black character.
If we want at least some of our literature to engage us in discussions about the experiences faced by Blacks, shouldn’t they appear in the books? Should they not be central characters, at least from time to time?
James Kelman launched a broadside attack on the Scottish literary establishment AT THEIR OWN FESTIVAL! Holy crap. Context for Canadians: this would be like shitting on a Gretzky rookie card at the NHL opener in Edmonton, man. Context for Americans: he just questioned freedom, man. Git ‘im!
Booker prize-winning novelist James Kelman has slammed Scotland’s literary scene in an astonishing outburst at the Edinburgh international book festival, where he said that if the country were in charge of awarding the Nobel prize instead of Sweden, it would go to “a writer of fucking detective fiction” or a book about “some upper middle-class young magician”.
In what appears to be a thinly veiled attack on some of Scotland’s best-known and bestselling authors – he left the audience to guess whom he meant, but they probably won’t have been scratching their heads for too long – Kelman said that “contemporary literature has been derided and sneered at by the Scottish literary establishment”.
An interesting article by a publisher of lavish “illustrated” books who says the Kindle doesn’t scare him. Reason? It can’t do what he can do.
E-books are about 10 years old. Their growth has been rapid, but they’re still evolving. It’s not yet totally clear, for example, what the Kindle wants to be when it grows up. A one-page book? A fundamentally un-book-like display of groupings of words in hovering gray type on a gray screen, bare and unornamented? So far it is a machine for long-form reading only–not for viewing.
It has its advantages. It’s nice and clean, with no wondering who fumbled with it at the library, no cigarette smoke odor, no food stains. If you have the leisure of reading out of doors, its one plastic page doesn’t flutter in the wind (though I’m told the type sometimes disappears in the sun). You can carry around hundreds of volumes on one Kindle.
Disadvantages? It mostly contains words, not pictures, and not in color. The content available is somewhat limited so far to topics in popular demand–health, money, sports, hobbies, news analysis, baby names. Conventional text titles, such as fiction, biography and history, are gaining traction, however, especially in certain niches, such as romance fiction, which comes in strengths from flaccid to super-steamy–and the latter has the advantage of coming to you digitally, wirelessly and confidentially, although, alas, also unillustrated.
- E-comics get PSP platform, which should be awesome for the form
- Waterstone’s says e-books should be published in tandem with print
- Heroic computer dies to save world from Master’s thesis (Thanks, Chris)
- RIP: Dominick Dunne, novelist and journalist, dead at 83.
- October’s National Reading Group Month shines harsh light on plight of moderately-educated, leisure-rich, distraction-seeking chattering classes… Thank GOD someone is finally taking this up with a whole month
- Children’s publishers sing: Our Bologna has a first name, it’s Fuck-you-and-you-fair… EVERYbody now!
- Top authors donate stories for collection celebrating human rights
- Venezuela strangling its own book business
- Eric Carle’s piggish little glutton of a wooley bear is getting its own Crayola colour… I suppose this is better than when they tried to name a shade of grey after Elvis…
- Irish call foul on text book prices
Are book swaps the literary event of the future? I can’t tell because even after reading this I still don’t really understand what the hell they are. Robert McCrum seems to like it though.
It certainly was an evening with a difference. The Fire Station, recently decommissioned, now has a raked auditorium with seats for about 150, and a small stage, which Pack and Phillips had transformed into a passable imitation of a student bedsit (collapsed sofa, piles of books, tea, coffee etc.) Pack’s obsession, apparently, is cake. The evening was punctuated by offers of cake, macaroons, biscuits and so forth.
And all Jessica and I had to do was bring along a book we wanted to swap with a member of the audience, and explain what we were swapping. It sounds corny, but it worked wonderfully well.
Armitage, Duffy, Heaney, and others up against some “stiff” competition for title of UK’s favourite poet.
You can have your say in the vote to find the Nation’s Favourite Poet now. The shortlist was compiled in consultation with The Poetry Society and The Arts Council. The vote closes at midday on Tuesday, 1 September 2009 and the result will be announced on the Poetry Season website on National Poetry Day on Thursday, 8 October 2009.
- Some commentary on yesterday’s stupidity around making children’s books happier
- Harry Potter getting assimilated by Christian church? What an interesting new direction for Christianity… assimilating the cultural forces you can’t gag… hm, so crazy it just might work…
- This season your books will chill out… This season the book world gets casual… This season’s books are so hot they’ve got to undress… This season… um… your books are… no longer… uh… double breasted?
- Sebastian Faulks stuck his foot in it with the Muslim community and is now backing off from his earlier remarks…
- Cook like a Frenchman (better stock up first on wine, cigarettes, and sour looks, which are all key ingredients in French cuisine)
- Sony to release a new wireless touchscreen e-reader in time for Giftmas… so what? They’ve replaced wires with fingers. Big deal…
- …But they’re putting them (^) in independent bookshops
- B&N e-inks deal with new e-reader (see what I did there? oh, yes, I did…)
- Amazon readers vs. the classics
A former UK children’s laureate is calling on authors to make children’s lit nicer. No, really! Honestly, she’s totally saying that. I don’t want to get all esoteric here in my rebuttal and make this an academic argument with too fine a point on it, but isn’t this THE MOST RETARDED THING YOU’VE EVER HEARD?
Too often they tended to veer towards bleak “realism” that had gone “too far”, which gave youngsters little hope and little aspiration, the best selling author commented.
While Fine insisted that she was not advocating a return to books with a “Blyton-ish view of things”, she said she was worried about the effects that so many downbeat stories were having on children.
Speaking at an event organised by Children in Scotland, called Compelling Novels, Vulnerable Children, she told The Times: “In the Fifties, when a strong child was dealing with difficult circumstances, there was always a rescue at the end of the book and it was always a middle-class rescue.
“The child would win a scholarship to Rodean or something, and go on to do very well. That was felt to be unrealistic and so there was a move away from that. Books for children became much more concerned with realism, or what we see as realism.
“But where is the hope? How do we offer them hope within that? It may be that realism has gone too far in literature for children. I am not sure that we are opening doors for children who read these books, or helping them to develop their aspirations.”
Jesus H. McGillicutty Christ. Your ideal is the Fifties? Need I remind you that the children of that decade are the Boomers currently in charge of the planet? Case closed.
- All it took was a biopic to get Julia Childs onto the NYT bestseller list
- Blackout in at book fest leaves Scots redfaced – with embarrassment
- Writer pulls out of festival because her headshot-with-cigarette was banned (since when is it the job of bookfest boards to police the health habits of the audience/talent? Get real and apologize, people)
- What is Obama reading?
- Antiques Roadshow for books? I’d watch… if, you know, I had TV…
- Penguin’s got cooties!!!
- Martin Amis at 60, as told via slideshow… why not take this all the way and create a montage? Get Joe Cocker singing A Little Help From My Friends, add some footage that’s played slightly too fast with him walking around in a bumbling shy way in front of the camera and maybe putting cake in someone’s face … aw…
- New Lemony Snicket titles coming
A new report from the Cleantech Group called the Environmental Impact of Amazon’s Kindle claims that a single Kindle displaces the purchase of 22.5 books each year for an estimated carbon savings of 168 kg of CO2. If the full storage capacity of the Kindle is used, the device prevents the equivalent of almost 11,185 kg of CO2 from being released.
Now, enterprising young investigators, let’s play the six-degrees game with Cleantech Group and Amazon….
Wow. That was unremarkable. A few rumbles of thunder, two trees down, and some sticks in the backyard. Garbage can was down the street. Winter is really the better time to get freaked out here, apparently. I know there have been some doozies in the past, but in total, I’ve heard about five separate rumbles of thunder in the last three years. They called it a tropical storm, but it’s about 16 degrees here, so I imagine that’s a bit misleading….
- Canadian publishers getting shafted by Indigo returns, moreso than usual
- Self-published book gets Neiman Marcus launch, which apparently is pretty big
- Fay Weldon: “the only feminist there is” … no, really! she totally said that!
- The Koreans really know how to do things big: an entire city built on publishing… (oh, crap! the hospital just got remaindered!)
- Margaret Atwood on how her crazygonuts tour came to be
- Guardian’s Not-the-Booker-Prize shortlist
A Canadian model who was harassed by a cowardly anonymous blogger has won a court battle to force Google to unmask her detractor. Good for her, bad for blogging/free speech. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think douchebags like this should get kicked in the lower nad-al region—thrice daily, in fact, and with increasing force on subsequent blows (but this should be accomplished by mob justice, really). But you just KNOW this ruling is going to end up being abused to unmask some poor Iranian dude fighting for freedom, or a beaten wife, or a political whistleblower in the US. It’ll also lead to a whole new line of court-clogging frivolous lawsuits, which is just GREAT for justice.
On Bookninja, and other sites, I say my piece under my own name, even the contentious, snarky, and stupid stuff, because I am free to stand by, retract, or apologize for my opinion as I see fit AND, franky, I know the stakes are pretty damn low (If I really thought that Heather Reisman’s lackeys had told her I existed and that she would bother contracting the services of the Yakuza to swat at the poetfly on her neck, I might have to retreat further into the shadows, but I don’t.) I don’t approve of anonymous blogging/comments for people who have nothing useful to add, but I do respect that anonymity has its place in free speech, even here. In a small world like the publishing sector, there are bound to be many whose professional and/or personal circumstances preclude the saying of what they really think in ways easily linked back to them.
Anonymity provides a safe outlet for unpopular opinions. Too bad we can’t all police ourselves, I suppose. Or let me police things. I can swing a sack of doorknobs like nobody’s business. I’ll keep the ‘net in line. In short, trolls=bad, anonymityforthesakeoffreespeech=good. Some further commentary below:
This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, truly one of the city(country)(world)’s great bookstores, is having a 30th anniversary party on Sept 16. Mark your calendars and head over to the storefront ahead of the party to buy an armload of books there.
Well, it finally happened: your printed material just got schtupped and knocked up by your TV… Goddammit!! I TOLD YOU, the books go BACK ON THE SHELF when you’re done with them! Now look! That fucking prick of a TV better not show its screen around here again or, so help me God, I’ll… And YOU, you little hussy of a Dan Brown paperback… Do you want to spend the rest of your life in the remainder bin?? I am SO setting up an appointment at the clinic.
As the world wonders about the uncertain fate of print, CBS unveiled a new “video-in-print” promotion, sticking a real video player inside a print magazine ad–advertising for a host of television shows from the pages of a magazine.
Read more about the promotion at The Wrap. It was created by Americhip, the company behind the video embedded above. Some see the campaign as a fantastic waste of money, others see it as a possible salvation of print. Do you want a video player embedded inside your favorite book?
What left in the filter after I run the hot water of my mind through the beans of reality to make an infused drink of boredom, indifference, and knowing satisfaction.
- Microsoft/Yahoo/Amazon form unholy alliance to try to pants Google (God loves it when devils fight… and by devils, I mean corporations… and by fight, I mean try to bankrupt each other… and by God, I mean me)
- Speaking of corporate douchery, Amazon UK will now charge publishers £500 for “rejected deliveries”, among other things
- The party’s over… RH cancels its Frankfurt book bash, much to the disappointment of publishing rummies everywhere
- HC brings back 98 out of print titles
- Seems Margaret Atwood is EVERYWHERE these days… Ever since she was uploaded to the internet, she can sure get around a lot quicker
- Dan Brown leader of yet ANOTHER statisical pack: books people don’t care to hold on to… Ah, Danny Boy: the high-end napkin of the literary world… just enough linen in with the paper to make the uncultured think they’re getting a fancy meal, but not so much that you’d want to shake out the snot and face-wipings to run his filthy ass through the washer…
- NS Writers Federatrion has a list of winners from their emerging writers contests
Jason at Bookslut points to a very disturbing story rocking the American poetry world/justice system: Ravi Shankar, a colleague from my days in the States and editor of the fantastic online lit journal Drunken Boat out of New York (not to be confused with another journal of similar name out of New Mexico), was arrested recently in New York City while on his way back from a poetry reading in Chelsea. The charge? Being a “sand-nigger”. And there are people here (North America) who will look you in the eye and tell you from the bottom of their hearts that endemic racism is no longer a social problem and that these cops were just doing their job. Read his horrifying account here.
My ordeal began with a party at a Chelsea gallery for the arts journal that I edit. Brilliant performances led to a boisterous dinner and then it was out to my car for the drive home to Connecticut and my wife and daughter. Turning onto Sixth Avenue from 34th Street, I found myself assailed by flashing red and blue. An amplified voice commanded me to pull over.
The officer approached, flashlight fixed in my face, and ordered me onto the sidewalk. “Is there a problem?” I asked. Three other cops surrounded me. I started to explain what I was doing in the city — a poet returning from a literary event.
The lead cop shouted, “Just do what I say!”
And so I obediently did the field-sobriety dance: touched nose with pinky and stood on one foot, tightrope-walked the crack in the sidewalk, blew into the Breathalyzer.
The officer conferred with his partners, then approached with a grin, hand extended as if to shake mine. “Good news,” he said, “you passed the Breathalyzer.” Then, with perfect comic timing: “The bad news is, there’s a warrant out for your arrest.” The extended hand reached for my wrist, twisting it behind my back.
Arrest? For what? The officers spun into motion. The back door of the police van slid open, a hand pushed my head down and shoved me in. The officer turned to his partner. “Always a good day when you can bag a sand nigger.”
A program aggregates Twitter updates and chooses those that rhyme. Apparently growing at 4000 verses a day. I’m fascinated and repulsed that this exists. (Got this from someone’s twitter feed, but have lost track of who…)
Hungry.. Ice coffee and donuts
Dancing and Doughnuts!
So, we got new books, clothes, and other stuffs. Thanks grandpa! We love you!
bored. woke up early cause im jet lagged still and have nothing to do.
and at the end of it all its you…….
Take that dream and make them all come true :)
at work listening to some bob and eating some ranch corn nuts
will see where we left off at the previous samples and cuts.
Rhyming donuts with doughnuts? Masterful. Uncanny valley of contemporary poetry. I’m creeped out, are you?
‘Ninja fav (and interviewee) Guy Gavriel Kay, writing at the Guardian, considers carefully whether novelists are entitled to use real people in their works. What a great writer this man is.
I’m not arguing, as Jonathan Dee did years ago, that this is a problem because of any failure of imagination. These works can be ethically troubling but some are superbly imaginative. My own net is cast more widely: this trend in fiction reflects a change in the way we address each other and the world. And it is happening, for the most part, by stealth. Most people – until very recently – haven’t even thought about this.
Do we value privacy in any real way? Thinking about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace … all these suggest we value exposure rather more. And instead of challenging this transformation, as they are supposed to – certainly at the more thoughtful edges of the art – novelists are buying into it wholesale.
University presses stand up against editorial interference getting all up their grills. Should publishers have editorial influence over the contents of academic books, like Yale recently found out it had with the banning of the Mohammad cartoons?
University presses have stressed the importance of editorial independence from their educational establishments following the controversy surrounding the book The Cartoons That Shook the World.
The book by Jytte Klausen is being published by Yale University Press but all illustrations of the prophet Muhammed that were due to be included originally have been pulled at the last minute. The images dropped included a reproduction of the controversial Jyllands-Posten newspaper page that featured cartoons of Muhammed.
Klausen told The Bookseller that the decision to pull the pictures was effectively made by the university and not by the affiliated press. Klausen added: “Once the university had decided to collect these alarmist reports about the consequences [of including the pictures], there was very little the press could do. That is why I agreed to go ahead with it, [although] I disagree with it.”
- Author-lawyer objects to Google class action
- £80G for Bloomsbury group letters? Is this the price of cutting gossip these days?
- Kindle e-reader? $359; LL Bean black turtleneck? $69; new Dan Brown novel? $16.17; Starbucks grande half-caff frappuccino? $3.93; losing sight of your soul in a crowd of placcid, easily-led zombie consumers? Priceless.
- Ol’ Ironnuts Sully’s memoir has some zing along with the story of crashing in the Hudson…
- On Oscar Wilde’s library (from Maud)
- Ian Rankin talks about his plans in a post-Rebus world
- Margaret turns book tour into theatre
- Library puts books that offend in back room
Congratulations to ‘Ninja fav (and interviewee) Lawrence Hill on the news that his Book of Negroes will be adapted to film. I heard him this morning on CBC talking about it, and one of the points made during the piece is how tough the competition will be among young black actresses hoping for this part.
Canadian producer Conquering Lion Pictures has optioned the film rights to Lawrence Hill’s bestselling novel The Book of Negroes. Toronto-based filmmaker Clement Virgo (”Poor Boy’s Game”) and producing partner Damon D’Oliveira are to adapt the award-winning novel for the big screen as an international co-production, with Virgo directing.
The Booksellers and Publishers Associations will “definitely” progress the Bookaholism idea first mooted at this year’s Book Industry Conference, as well as a number of other initiatives generated by the event. These include developing new promotions on backlist, an “Antiques Roadshow” for books, joint lobbying for the protection of copyright, creating a central returns hub for the trade and developing an adult dimension to World Book Day.
At a recent meeting of the BA/PA Liaison Group, delegates discussed the 18 ideas suggested at June’s conference in Cambridge, which was chaired by marketing consultant Damian Horner. Ursula Mackenzie, Little Brown c.e.o. and publisher joint chair of the group, said: “At present, we are prioritising the suggestions and we want to focus on those initiatives which we believe can make a real practical difference.”
Later in the day, Mackenzie had serious plans to use the words “utilize”, “functionality”, and “paradigm”, but as of press time was still seeking opportunities. To be fair, there are some good ideas in here. I just can’t get past the Bookaholics thing. Here’s hoping they prove me wrong and give a whole bunch of new readers their first introduction to crippling addiction.
How many books can you read in a week, or a month? If you’re judging the Booker prize you probably have to slog through a novel a day, but most people would do well to finish a novel a week. That’s about four a month, or perhaps 40 a year (allowing for holidays). So, even if you throw in a few extras, the average reader will have done well to consume 50 new titles a year, probably many fewer. Yes, there’s an astounding amount of choice and novelty out there, but we are unlikely to explore it, however much we might want to. We simply do not have the time, or perhaps the energy, to fully exploit the contemporary cornucopia of print.
As I see it, there’s no harm in admitting this. The book demands a serious engagement. Even if it’s a frivolous read, it’s still utterly absorbing, and even if you “devour” it (as people sometimes say), the experience is much slower than, say, seeing a favourite movie five or 10 times. Or listening to a favourite piece of music, or song. I am typing this looking at my personal library, perhaps 5,000 books. It occurs to me that if I never bought another book, I could enjoy several years just re-reading my way through this collection. The e-reading revolution will not change the dynamic of our interaction with books.
Galleycat looks at how the book trailer, looking like garbage next to the movie trailer, changes readerly expectations for a book.
“We can do better than poorly produced B- and C-level movie-esque trailers,” ad-man-turned-novelist James P. Othmer argued during a discussion last night on Twitter. Because of budget limitations, he continued, the “conventional” plot summary book trailer “looks cheap” when compared to movie trailers; a provocation, on the other hand, “sheds light on a truth [or] issue.” What Othmer calls a ‘provocation,’ we might also call an ‘engagement,’ and it’s that slight shift in vocabulary that helped us recognize how Othmer’s theory held up for trailers promoting fiction as well as nonfiction.
- RIP: Richard Poirier
- Finally, contemporary poetry gets some craft
- The summer of fat big-boned books?
- There’s a literary Peace Prize?
- Woodstock without the mud
- Short of a proper Tank Girl adaptation, this is one of the few comic book movies I might line up for
- Doctors love this book… um, reading? I mean, wouldn’t their time be better spent prescribing me into a stupor?
A lot of people are wondering what the Mamet adaptation of the Anne Frank story will look like. I think this is a pretty good start at the guessing. (Some BANG ON bits in here. They’re so good.)
Cory Doctorow is the PETA of ebooks. Opening the cages and setting them free!
Booksellers – I’m a former one myself – know that personal recommendations from friends are the best way to sell books – better than reviews, better than covers, better than store-placement. A publisher’s publicity and marketing for a book is an excellent way to get it into some readers’ hands, and the word of mouth enabled by freely copyable ebooks then acts as a force-multiplier to expand the publisher’s efforts. Whether your “natural” audience is small or large, free downloads generally expand it, by letting readers make informed guesses about who else will like it, and giving those readers a persuasive tool for closing the sale.
Why is everybody and their dog lined up to buy the latest Dan Brown novel when it’s pretty much common knowledge they suck? Answer: because everybody and their dog is lined up to buy the latest Dan Brown novel. Word-of-mouth and controversy 1; literary chops 0. And why not?
I read it, in late 2004, for a far more prosaic reason: because everybody was reading it. The New Yorker published a piece in 2005 by the magazine’s editor David Remnick, who, on a visit to London to report on Tony Blair’s re-election campaign, said: “I was reading the novel that everyone in London seemed to be poring over in the cafés and on the benches in St James’s Park, Ian McEwan’s Saturday.” A convenient idea, but, in fact, everyone was still reading The Da Vinci Code. I’m not one for confessional journalism, but I admit I loved it. Any deficiencies in style or research went unnoticed as I raced for the finish. I promise you I am not an idiot, but I was so taken with it that I bought the special illustrated edition and the Rough Guide.
The book’s runaway success may well simply be due to reader-rewarding short chapters. Equally, it could be code itself. After all, people love a puzzle, from the buried golden hare, whose whereabouts were mapped by clues in Kit Williams’s 1979 book Masquerade, to the name of the killer reportedly spelt out by the composer Barrington Pheloung in the theme music to individual episodes of ITV’s Morse. Dan Brown claimed, in a rare 2003 television interview for the reclusive author on ABC’s Good Morning America, that his interest in puzzle-solving was forged during his comfortable New Hampshire childhood: “On Christmas morning, when other kids might find their presents under the tree, my siblings and I would find a treasure map, with codes, that we would follow from room to room.”
The ensuing boycotts and plagiarism lawsuits can’t have harmed sales either. Another rare Brown appearance was at the High Court in London in 2006, when Judge Peter Smith threw out a copyright-infringement claim from the authors of the 1982 nonfiction book The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, which, ironically, did brisk renewed business. The year before he saw off a similar claim from the author of The Da Vinci Legacy, published in 1983, a similarly themed art forgery thriller, which was miraculously reissued in 2004.
Christopher Hitchens examines the implications of Yale’s ban on Mohammad images in its upcoming book on the cartoon incident.
Now, the original intention of limiting the representation of Mohammed by Muslims (and Islamic fatwas, before we forget, have no force whatever when applied to people outside the faith) was the rather admirable one of preventing idolatry. It was feared that people might start to worship the man and not the god of whom he was believed to be the messenger. This is why it is crass to refer to Muslims as Mohammedans. Nonetheless, Islamic art contains many examples—especially in Iran—of paintings of the Prophet, and even though the Dante example is really quite an upsetting one, exemplifying a sort of Christian sadism and sectarianism, there has never been any Muslim protest about its pictorial representation in Western art.
If that ever changes, which one can easily imagine it doing, then Yale has already made the argument that gallery directors may use to justify taking down the pictures and locking them away. According to Yale logic, violence could result from the showing of the images—and not only that, but it would be those who displayed the images who were directly responsible for that violence.
Sam Jordison has been revisiting all the past Booker winners and generally finding most of them to be crap. But he likes Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which I also happen to like. After his butcher job on Coetzee, and my subsequent call to have him assassinated by laxative overdose, I thought we’d never see eye to eye again. But I can see a thaw in relations happening here. I think he’s stretching a bit much with the Joyce connections (I mean, bildungsroman in Ireland… what are you going to do?) but I’m glad to see a good book made the cut.
- Readers’ Digest now fully abridged—files for bankruptcy
- Children’s laureate seeks internet bookclub for kids—first URL purchased, kidslit.com, abandonned after first metrics search string report
- The philosophy of having your nutsack put through a handcrank washing wringer—sorry, slight typo there, allow me to clarify: Alain de Botton to write book about Heathrow
- Jason points to Swindle, a daily aggregator of poetry on the web
- Clive James profiled around his new memwah
- Dan Nester, who’s promoting his new book How to Be Inappropriate, provides a list of the worst things you could do as a participant at a group reading
- Random House about to get a whole lot more stylish
Margaret Atwood, or at the very least a robot developed by Margaret Atwood, is not only Twittering, but blogging her upcoming book tour. I hope she reveals the seedy truth about what goes on in those “hospitality suites”…. except where I (and the hoarded bottle of Cutty they find me wrapped around behind the couch) am concerned.
A new film version of Brothers Karamazov takes the bold step of ending the movie where most people stop reading the book. So good I could cry.
LOS ANGELES—Executives at Paramount Pictures announced Monday that production had finally wrapped on The Brothers Karamazov, a new film adaptation that concludes at the precise moment most readers give up on the classic Russian novel.
The 83-minute film, which is based on the first 142 or so pages of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s acclaimed work, has already garnered attention for its stunning climax, in which the end credits suddenly appear midway through Katerina’s tearful speech about an unpaid debt.
“We are very excited to be able to bring several chapters of this timeless masterpiece to the big screen,” Paramount CEO Brad Grey said of the movie, which was shot, on and off, for two years. “Anyone who’s ever tried to sit down and trudge through this incredible book is going to be absolutely blown away by the faithfulness of our film.”
Between all the undead in Austen, and the walking dead guy around Salinger, people are starting to wonder what the effects of all these prequels, sequels, and parodies might be. I’ve got an answer you might not like: hilarity!
Books that are still in copyright are a more complicated challenge for the would-be writer of prequels and sequels. This is partly because a lot of money is sometimes at stake. The Mitchell estate was so fussy about protecting “Gone With the Wind” because the franchise is a gold mine. Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett,” an authorized sequel, was a huge best seller in 1991, even though the critics sniffed at it. Living authors, moreover, are understandably attached to their characters and creations and may not want to think of them as demented, say, or having problems with bladder control. Where do you draw the line between critique or parody and outright exploitation?
Yet the urge to write sequels and prequels is almost always an homage of sorts. We don’t want more of books we hate. The books that get re-written and re-imagined are beloved. We don’t want them ever to be over. We pay them the great compliment of imagining that they’re almost real: that there must be more to the story, and that characters we know so well — Elizabeth Bennet, for one, or Sherlock Holmes, who has probably inspired more sequels than any other fictional being — must have more to their lives. In a couple of quite good sequels recently — “A Slight Trick of the Mind,” by Mitch Cullin, and “Final Solution: A Story of Detection,” by Michael Chabon — we even get to watch Holmes grow old and discover love of a sort.
Certain books are more than mere texts — words on a page or, these days, an electronic reading device. They’re part of our mental furniture.