Liz Renzetti writes in the Globe about a British effort to “save” the English language from the detrimental effects of people speaking it.
Oddly, the transatlantic creep of Americanisms doesn’t bother the Queen’s English Society as much as it does some other guardians of Britishness. The Daily Mail has started a campaign to maintain linguistic purity, defending crisps against potato chips, flat against apartment, and preferring the James Bond elegance of boot and bonnet to the Detroit pragmatism of trunk and hood. The Mail’s readers are, let’s just say, a conservative lot, and joined in from the get-go. That’s an Americanism they loathe, I should point out, along with “step up to the plate,’’ “guys’’ in reference to mixed company and that Canadian classic of ambiguity, “I’m good,’’ when what is actually meant is: No thank you.The Mail columnist Matthew Engel, who started the whole thing, writes: “People have no idea where American ends and English begins and that’s a disaster for our national self-esteem.’’
Well, that’s a bit bonkers, if you ask me. Mad, in the English sense of the word, though perhaps not deserving of the great British insult, “mad as a box of frogs.’’ In fact, the English are quite bolshie when it comes to defending their cultural identity, and language is the primary way of shaping that. They live on a tiny frozen island in the north Atlantic with only their language – and a time-hardened shield of irony – to protect them from a global onslaught.
Why do authors bother inserting themselves into their fiction? Answer: they’ve lived boring lives and lying in memoir is just a big hassle (these days).
Our generation never invaded Normandy, didn’t hobble through Spain with our army wounds still unhealed to sip absinthe, didn’t fight in ‘Nam or drop acid while burning our draft cards. We were a sissy bunch, armed with degrees from liberal arts colleges, M.F.A.s from well-regarded writers’ programs. Our trench time was spent as office temps, secretaries in our parents’ businesses, baristas, grant writers, teaching assistants. Say what you will about the talents of Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon, and Jhumpa Lahiri versus those of Jack Kerouac, 50 years from now still only one will have been the subject of an 800-page biography. Yet here we were, writing in an era obsessed with celebrity and reality shows, where the first question readers and journalists nearly always threw at us was, “How much of this novel was based on your own personal experiences?” At which point we faced the contemporary writer’s dilemma—we could be only one of two possible things: a liar or a bore. Could anyone blame us for choosing the former?
But then, even that became well-nigh impossible. In the instant-muckraking era of TMZ, the Smoking Gun, and Gawker, when the outing of any instance of plagiarism became only one Google Books search away, with journalists, editors, and publishers all on the lookout for the next Frey, lying became tougher and riskier than ever.
So we’ve taken the only reasonable option—taking back what’s rightfully ours, casting ourselves in our fiction, allowing ourselves to explore the intense experiences missing from our monotonous existences, while getting to do it in novels, where we still have the right to lie in service of larger truths.
There’s a whole series of (re)evaluations of copyright and digital locks from the consumer’s POV, but now we’re starting to see pieces on how draconian control over e-content can screw the creators as well. I blame it on the old people.
Modern copyright practices spur artists to unmoor our work from what has inspired us. Art—along with many artists supposedly protected by these laws—is arguably poorer for it.
The modern copyright battle is more interesting than its associated legalities. Advocates of copyright restrictions found a bête noire in curmudgeonly novelist Mark Helprin, who argued that Congress should extend “the term of copyright . . . as far as it can throw.”
Opponents took this to mean perpetual copyright, which Mr. Helprin denies. In turn he accuses his vocal critic Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons—a nonprofit that encourages art sharing consistent with copyrights—of leading a movement to ravage Western civilization.
In reality, both sides agree with the premise embedded in the Constitution, which is that people ought not enjoy art without compensating the artist, any more than one can dine without paying the chef. They also recognize that while we want to give artists incentives, we don’t want the costs to be so high that art appreciation—a difficult cultural attribute to re-establish once it is lost —declines.
- Beryl Bainbridge’s funeral a UK literary who’s who
- HMV, Waterstone’s mommy/daddy, freezes staff pay across corporate group… (execs too?)
- The history of the word “robot” (as opposed to future, during which it will be prefaced by “Please Mister” and suffixed by “don’t kill me”)
- RIP: Harvey Pekar, artist and writer, dead at 70
- Jon Thurber replaces David Ulin as LAT books ed
- Moby’s been posting an interesting series of dissections of its parent co. Melville House’s marketing campaign for a book, which is, of course, part of its marketing campaign for the book…
- Public library, private room
Things have changed, says CEO lady below. It’s not just the recession. It will never be the same. You can never step in the river twice. How many roads must a man walk down? Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever known. Except it’s a different road. Totally. I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside, the day the industry died. And so forth…
The c.e.o. of HarperCollins has warned that the publishing industry is unlikely to return to pre-recession prosperity, after eight of the top 10 publishers saw a drop in sales in 2010.
Victoria Barnsley was speaking as figures from Nielsen BookScan, for the first 24 weeks of the year, revealed a fall in the total value of book sales of 5.7%.
She said: “Our business needs to change, regardless of whether there is a recession or not. The economic situation has merely hurried the process along . . . To be honest, I don’t anticipate the market ever returning to pre-recession levels in its current form.”
I don’t even know what that was all about.
The blurb has been much on the hive mind of the arts pages lately, particularly around the well-meant, ill-fated Blurb-of-Ridiculous-Hyperbole +2 (+3 vs. Indigo buyers) from Nicole Krauss for David Grossman’s new book (I received an ARC of said book and the blurb is front and centre, taking up most of the front jacket in large text… so SOMEONE thought it was a good idea…). Here Laura Miller goes into the motivations behind and pitfalls before the ask and the blurber.
Everyone seems to hate the process, from the authors who are compelled to plead for blurbs to the publishing professionals who have to lash their authors onto it, to the blurbers themselves, who often wind up walking a knife’s edge between honesty and generosity. It stands to reason that, if many blurbs are bestowed for extraliterary reasons like friendship or professional collegiality, then many of them are insincere. Faint or highly strategic praise is a sign that the blurber was less than enthralled by the work. Perhaps in such cases the blurber ought to refuse to endorse the book at all, but this is hard to do if the author knows you’ve already read the manuscript. It would invariably lead to awkwardness and hurt feelings when the whole point of agreeing to do the blurb in the first place was to avoid both.
Poet’s House in NYC collects the important and obscure to make the case that poetry is not at all a marginal form. Huh. See, why then the glazed eyes at parties? Why the subtle edging away toward where the novelists stand, also looking exhausted and pale but somehow more palatable? Why the ramshackle ghettos in bookstores, mostly populated with text book anthologies and dead Greeks?
EVERY few years poetry, like jazz or punk rock, is pre-emptively eulogized by pessimists. Contemporary culture moves quickly, and the poet conjured by the collective imagination — brooding and solitary, with a notebook and a portrait of Dylan Thomas tucked under the pillow — is rarely clutching a Smartphone or trawling Facebook.
But even strident skeptics will be softened by the tomes on display at Poets House, a 50,000-volume poetry library and literary center that for 18 years has been amassing the previous year’s poetry and poetry-related books for its annual showcase. Meticulously cataloged and presented face-forward, the exhibition proffers wondrous evidence of the genre’s vitality.
Being white, near 40, and relatively straight, I enjoy a little marginality now and then. This article is like those teachers who forced me to write with my right hand in kindergarten. Keep your paws off my limited marginality, Poet’s House.
- Viva Miguel Hernandez!
- Now that’s soivice! Macmillan replaces defective copy of book… bought in thrift store!
- Not to be outdone in the skeezy business practice arena by a rank amateur outfit like Amazon, Microsoft tries to patent turning the page of an ebook… Next up, Kobo to file a patent on passing eyes over text
- Loser petty theif who passes himself off as bigshot book dealer (is there such a thing?) is going to jail
- Canada’s next Governor General was in Segal’s Love Story
- PD James talks about detective fiction
- Get your hands on the crap that inspired authors to write something—Significant Objects
The guy makes £155,398 a year and he’s writing about money hurting people. Presumably on company time. I’m not one to tell “poets” what they can and can’t write about, so I find the general sputtering here laughable. But what IS truly offensive here is the quality of the poem itself. I’d say “don’t quit your day job” if he were my student, but given his salary, really, man, DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!
Croydon residents have accused Mr Elvery of insensitivity by complaining about the problems caused by money while drawing a substantial salary, at a time when many local people are unemployed.
Mr Elvery – who was voted in the top 100 most powerful civil servants in the country by Carter Anderson media and business consultancy – took the job with Croydon Council in 2004 when he was just 35 years old. He is paid £155,398 a year.
But he has been panned for writing the poem by locals after ‘pouring his heart out’ about debt issues when he is on a massive £155,398-a-year.
The poem reads; “EVERY night before I rest my head, see those dollar bills go swirling round my bed
You load 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt
I’ve seen the future, I cant afford it. Tell me the truth sir, someone just bought it”.
Alone on a yacht with nothing to do, this red-blooded alpha male broke down and read Twilight. He then promptly turned it into a work ethic lesson for his staff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lessons he seems to have learned don’t really shift his gender biases, but they do teach him the value of taking some time out to be mindless… And what better way of being mindless than reading a Stephanie Meyer novel?
In a July 2 memo encouraging his employees to consider outside points of view—you can read it in full at the end of this post—Mr. Barrack describes a lonely evening on a yacht in Turkey after a cancelled business meeting. In the yacht, Mr. Barrack writes, he came upon a book on which “were written the words that strike terror in the hearts of every macho, red-blooded male…TWILIGHT.”
This isn’t a books related piece, but it is a beautiful, honest, generous piece of writing–-Don McKellar writes about the final hours of his beloved wife Tracy Wright’s life. Warning: tears will follow reading this.
“Do you know you’re dying?” I asked her.
“Now?” she replied, in surprise.
“No. When you’re ready.”
Hours later we had all gathered around her bed. She asked me who was there and I told her. “It’s time to start,” she said.
We linked recently to a story about how Tin House now required you to submit a receipt from a recently purchased book to have your submission considered. Neat idea to promote books, right? NO! THOUGHT-SPAWN OF SATAN!
There were angry librarians, for example: “If you can’t afford a book your local library is your best option. So, fie on Tin House.” There were angry people from the country: “This requirement largely excludes people who live in rural areas. The ability to buy a book in a store is not that easy for everyone.” There were people who thought it was “Dumb, condescending.” There was the angry ex-intern who couldn’t shut up and kept writing again and again how bad Tin House was, saying he was “only recently getting over how false, lousy and ridden with middle-brow elitism their entire organization is.”
If you slice the categories thin enough, everyone can close in on number one. I looked recently and saw my upcoming book Glimpse was number three in Canadian poetry, two months before release—behind only Anne Carson’s Nox and Michael Crummey’s NOVEL Galore. A day later it was number 17 or something. Have we not learned yet it’s folly to put any trust in Amazon?
And so it came to pass that on April 5, I discovered that in the “hot new releases” segment I was number 17 in Globalization and number four in College. Now I was cooking with gas. The next day, following two more media hits, I reached number one in both categories, hence the euphoric Facebook post.
All this was vaguely familiar. Memories came back to me of my old job as editor of the U.S. News & World Report college guides. Beyond the contentious national rankings, U.S. News creates separate lists for small liberal arts colleges, nonselective comprehensive universities, and so forth. In a little-recognized bit of genius, all are sliced and diced by geography as well. So an unremarkable institution ranked in the bottom quartile overall could boast that it was the top liberal arts college in the Upper Michigan Peninsula. Carve the data thin enough and everyone’s a winner.
As I had predicted, however, my foothold on the rankings ladder turned out to be precarious. Hour by hour I bobbed up and down, first ahead, then behind such titles as Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Graduate School. So quickly did the Amazon links I sent to my wife become obsolete that I began e-mailing her screen shots to capture my fleeting moments of glory.
I realize you mainlanders have been getting your asses kicked by heat the last week or so, but it’s finally above 14 degrees here, so I can only be thankful for the oppressive warmth. Of course, out here that means about 25 degrees with a nice breeze from the sea. Ah.
- Borders saved by lying tobacco salesman?
- If so, when will publishers see some of that filthy, nicotine-stained money?
- It was bound to start happening… e-reader company goes bankrupt
- That mockery of a government in Italy is trying to gag press… so the press have gone on strike… all of them… Wow, imagine if that happened here, where we also have a mockery of a government
- Dedalus gets its funding back
- Two young poets I like interview each other at the National Post
- First folio thief not
- Top 10 pubs in literature
- The way to see your novel hit the top of the charts…again: live until it turns 50
I’m sorry for not posting today. Please accept this video of an insane man in lieu of my usual witty cynicism.
Mike Bryan, he of two first names like myself, will put his considerable experience into Penguin Canada, hopefully dragging it from the mud and bringing its corporate gender relations into the 21st century. [Stephen Beattie has an interesting take on this...]
Mike Bryan has been named the new president of Penguin Canada, meaning once again a former president of Penguin India will take the reins in Toronto.
In a press release distributed Wednesday morning, Bryan was described as “one of the most senior and experienced members of Penguin’s international team, having served as International Sales and Marketing Director for Penguin for both the UK and US and, most recently, as President of Penguin India. Mike was fundamental to the development of Penguin’s international operations, setting up companies in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. He also started Penguin Singapore and Malaysia.”
“I am delighted to be taking up the reins at Penguin Canada, which I know from my thirty years at Penguin is a truly great Penguin company,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working with David and the widely respected publishing team as we continue to develop Penguin Canada’s highly successful publishing program.”
Addressing a large book festival audience once, I devoted a few choice words to my pet hate of that time, the doctor and TV presenter Robert Winston. This man was a fertility scientist, not an expert on child development, I suggested. He should focus on what he does best – fertilising women (arf, arf) – rather than making programmes on childcare.
As always at the end of these events, it was impossible to gauge how I had gone down. As I peered into the darkness of the auditorium, I had no idea whether the audience had fallen asleep, were worrying if they had set the video to record Strictly Come Dancing, or fallen in love with me and all wanted to have my babies. The convenor asked anyone who had something to ask to state their name and keep the question short. The first was called. “Robert Winston”, said the voice.
I’ve let you down, people. I realize now that when I first read about Nicole Krauss’s terribly overwritten blurb for David Grossman that I should have held a contest to have Bookninja readers try to outdo her. But alas, even though I thought of it, I was too lazy and preoccupied with meaningless things like work, literature and parenting. Damn me. Damn me to hell. I’ll try not to let you down again. Thankfully the Guardian was there to clean up my mess. And to make the contest about Dan Brown? [kisses fingertips] Genius! Go win something from them. It won’t be a Bookninja thong (at least I don’t think so…), but lesser things have value too.
our challenge for you today is to outdo Krauss. But we don’t want to make it easy for you by letting you blurb a book which may actually be good, like Grossman’s. Instead, see if you can work your magic on The Da Vinci Code. And be as grandiloquent, as pompous, as affected as possible: if Dan Brown’s touched you in the place of your own essence, you really need to tell the world about it.
In addition to the wide variety of scented wax products and chocolates and cheap plastic shit it already carries in place of books, Indigo will also now have a photography department, presumably to sell you something to go into those crappy frames at the front of the store.
Indigo Books & Music Inc. is branching into photography and will sell its own branded gift items to third-party retailers to offset a global slide in book sales at traditional specialty book retail stores.
Indigo, which has long carried gift items at its 75 superstores across the country and has successfully boosted its revenue in the past five years by adding more gifts, designer paper products, baby goods and toys, will be opening two in-store photo departments this fall as a test pilot for rollout across the chain.
In the new section, customers will be able to bring in their own digital files to print photographs, create photo books and keepsakes, or have their photographs taken in a studio by an on-staff portrait photographer. Indigo will also sell photographs as art.
Amazon has basically fucked B&N by secretly patenting their Nook device. Dirty pool, old chap! Dirty pool!
Looks like the battle for e-reader dominance between Amazon and Barnes & Noble could soon expand beyond the recent spate of price drops and into the courtroom as well: the USPTO just granted a 2006 Amazon patent on e-readers with secondary LCD displays (like the original Kindle’s scroller-navigation panel), and several of the claims are potentially broad enough to cover the Nook and many other devices with both electronic paper and LCD displays. What’s more, Amazon agreed not to file for any corresponding foreign patents during the four-year approval process and thus wasn’t required to publish the patent application — meaning this is likely a complete surprise to the entire industry. Yeah, it’s juicy.
Apparently all parties have settled in the Davidar/Rundle situation at Penguin, and won’t be talking about it any more. Thank Jay-sus. What remains now is for Penguin Penguin Canada to appoint a new president. And, you know, make sure they don’t inappropriately touch their employees. And then I guess someone should write a thinly-veiled novel about the whole sordid thing.
“We can now advise that all allegations have been addressed and all matters resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” Peter Downard, lawyer to former Penguin executive David Davidar, wrote in an e-mail. “None of the parties will be commenting further to the media.”
Penguin spokesman Yvonne Hunter confirmed the news. “Everything has been settled,” she said, adding that the company expects to follow the news by announcing the name of Penguin Canada’s new president Wednesday morning.
- Run for the hills! Novelty books becoming too expensive to produce!
- Apparently, unbeknownst to me, someone has founded literary prize that awards a bag of coke and some strappy sandals to the idiot who accumulates the most pages with those squiggly black things on them before they OD at 40…
- We’ll consider your manuscript if you can prove you actually read
- Sony quietly drops ereader prices to match Kindle and Kobo
- The Star Spangled Banner’s horrific subtext:
Now here are some librarians I can get really GaGa about…. Brrrrrrowr!
When it’s an ebook? How about when it’s an app? I have an app coming up for my new book, and from what I understand it will be a completely different experience than the book. I think that’s how best to use the form—to enhance or add to the book, rather than replace it.
The potential is vast. This is not a case of simply trying to cram written content on to an e-reader; this is about taking that content and completely reinventing it.
Currently readers are being offered little more than the novelty of a book on an electronic device, but the thrill of turning the page by clicking a button quickly pales. Many of the current projects are just tarted-up books for electronic media, but if it doesn’t move the experience on to a new level, to enhance the material, what’s the point? What authors and publishers need to do is to go back to the drawing board and, at the moment ideas are conceived, work out how – if at all – to make use of these new toys.
Ebooks and apps make it possible to reconceive books for devices that people use to email, call, play games and tweet, in a way that allows an author to reach people who have rarely bought books before. Conversations have begun between publishers and the gaming industry, who previously have had nothing to say to one another.
The future offers much more. One of the most intriguing prospects for me is to use social networking facilities to conduct mass-participation experiments to explain the science discussed in a book. You can already download for nothing an app that allows you to join the Galaxy Zoo project to help astronomers explore the universe. Twitter and Facebook offer the opportunity to create communities bound together by the experience of reading a particular book. The app that lets you read the series of Scott Pilgrim comics on your smartphone is already exploiting the power of social networking to create dialogue between readers, who use the characters from the comics as their avatars.
Toronto’s venerable and indispensable genre shop Bakka, along with a select few other indies, is growing while some shops are closing down. Lessons?
The Canadian Booksellers Association is keenly monitoring the uncertain climate to see if there are common factors behind why some of its members are thriving, while others aren’t.
“There is a combination of complex factors,” says CBA president Mark Lefebvre, who manages Titles Bookstore at McMaster University. “What’s the rent? What’s the neighbourhood?
“We’re in very challenging times. Booksellers have to find that fine balance that gives them an edge. Maybe it’s expertise. Or maybe it’s some other factor that nobody can do as well as them.”
- Martin Amis leans on small press over (un)authorized biography
- Olufemi Terry wins Caine Prize for African lit
- Waterstones guy gets his revenge on publishing world in BOOK! Ho HO!
- Are e-readers affecting our reading speeds?
- Pushing poetry on strangers—Toronto poet takes it to the hoop… and by hoop, I mean streets… and by streets I mean people… and by people I mean soccer hooligans
- It’s still good! It’s still good! Hachette head circles wagons on celebrity memoir
- On “Exquisite drivel“
It’s what’s in you. And it’s what sells your book online. So get it right.
There was a time when metadata—descriptive information such as a book’s title, author, or BISAC codes—was something only the warehouse crew had to worry about. “No one saw it,” said Laura Dawson, CEO of LJNDawson.com, a consultant specializing in digital publishing services. “It was just warehouse data.” But that was before the rise of online retailing at sites like Amazon.com and BN.com as well as the growth in the popularity and sales of e-books.
Now, Dawson said, accurate metadata has become a marketing tool for publishers, a shopping guide for consumers, and an absolute necessity for distributors and retailers.
National Post drops another great article: Jeet Heer defending John Metcalf against Andre Alexis’s condemnation from the Walrus, but then goes on to tackle the same subjects. Metcalf is just doing his job, says Heer.
“If I had to blame one Canadian writer for this state of affairs, I’d blame novelist and critic John Metcalf,” Alexis writes.
“John Who?” is probably the question that popped into the heads of most readers of Alexis’s polemic. While the fiction and essays of John Metcalf have a small and devoted readership, a tiny fellowship that I myself belong to, he is hardly a household name.
Among his fans, Metcalf is known for his bracing, tough-minded and strongly worded criticism, as in his complaint about Morley Callaghan’s “stumblebum writing.” Alexis believes that too many critics have started to imitate Metcalf’s slash-and-burn approach while lacking Metcalf’s literary credentials. Alexis even acknowledges that Metcalf has a trustworthy sensibility that Alexis himself says he agrees with 80% of the time. The problem is that “those who have been influenced by [Metcalf] … are not on the same level and don’t possess the same credibility, though they allow themselves to make the same kinds of pronouncements.”
How plausible is this claim that Metcalf is the driving force behind Canadian literary criticism?
The friggin National Post. How torn can one man be? On one hand, it’s a ridiculous right wing vanity project started by deluded businessmen who forgot that the majority of Conservative voters can barely parse out the prose of the Sun, but on the otherhand it has the best books/arts coverage going in a national paper. What the hell? Can I vote that MOST of the paper die and the arts coverage slink away like a majority of worm to live again? But I digresss. Here is my co-founding Ninja, Pete Darbyshire, in all his sexed-up glory, talking about his fantastic new book The Warhol Gang, which you should all run out and buy right now. It really is as good as it sounds.
“I don’t like the sort of capitalist consumer world we live in, but I’ve got to operate in it — which is the same thing with the characters in the book,” he says. “I’d prefer to maybe live in a nice commune-village-type setting, where you’ve got multiple people to look after your kids, and you share your meals and you grow your food. That’s not possible. I mean, it is if you go live with some crazy hippies on Vancouver Island but … to live the kind of life I want to live I’ve got to work within the terms society has given me. I recognize sometimes that’s absurd, but I’m trapped in it, too.”
Consumerism is just one of several targets Darbyshire takes aim at in the book. He is also hostile to media culture. In The Warhol Gang, the top-rated show is a newscast-reality TV hybrid titled Panoptical, hosted by a vapid anchorwoman named Paris, on which car crashes, murderous rampages, police chases, disasters, dead bodies, accidents and other grisly footage are endlessly replayed.
It’s somewhat surprising, then, to learn that Darbyshire is the weekend news editor of The Province in Vancouver.
“It’s always been, if it bleeds, it leads … but now it’s like, if it bleeds or it’s American Idol, it leads,” he says. “There’s an interest in the spectacle, but it’s always at the expense of somebody else. And I don’t think we’re engaging with issues any more. The media and the consumers have moved from the news to the spectacle. We’re no longer interested in the issues.” Then, presciently, given that this is a full week before the G20: “Who could actually tell you what the G20 issues are going to be about if you went out and did a streeter? But everybody is looking forward to the confrontation and the clashes and the tear gas and the helicopters.”
I saw someone mention this somewhere recently: Overheard American tourists: “Why do you think the Canadians celebrate July 4th on July 1st?” Today is really the only day we can make fun of them, because they’re too bloated on barbeque and beer to do anything about it (the rest of the time, they now comprise about half of my readership here… So I’m trying to be kinder and gentler).
- The 20thC’s most reclusive authors
- Detroit Public Library and McDonald’s team up for “Why Not Rot Your Brain AS WELL AS Your Stomach Lining and Liver?” reading campaign
- Yet another ebook store to be launched, this time by compu-power-playah Toshiba
- The most surprising author items auctioned
- Going Rouge publisher to bang out book on oil spill… Makes sense… Palin is kind of American politicis’ version of that disaster… I’m sure she’s even grusomely killed a few animals in a similar fashion
- Supermarket-branded kids’ books?
- Fraud via iTunes bookstore makes your iPad a slightly scarier place to be
- Ruth Rendell either advocates for hysterical alarmism from a simpler time or hasn’t yet heard of video games: TV violence corrupts kid
Kids still say that, right? A guy who’s book title tickled the fancy of the Facebook generation finds himself with 700,000 fans in a very short period of time. Most of whom, it turns out, know nothing about him or his book. Ah, clicky peer pressure.
By the time I checked in that evening, expecting the glitch to be resolved, there were 1000 more fans, bringing my total to over 5000. By the next morning there were 7000, and this explosive growth rate continued in the days that followed. Soon the day-to-day increase started doubling regularly, until it eventually hit a steady stride – at which point I was gaining more than 25 000 new fans on a daily basis.
Keep in mind that the fan count had by now far surpassed the number of copies of the book that had actually been printed. So those weeks when over 100 000 new strangers would inexplicably join my Facebook fan page were maddeningly confusing.
And just plain maddening. As the numbers soon crossed the quarter million mark, I started to feel a bit under siege. Was this some kind of elaborate prank? Who were these 250 000 people (and counting), and what did they want from me? Should I send out a Facebook message to them? If I did, what should I say? I had no idea what kind of message I wanted to send, and so I kept silent. But the whole thing was increasingly unsettling, and making me paranoid.
Meanwhile, the numbers just kept shooting upwards. Very quickly, I had passed celebrities like Brad Pitt (55 000 fans) and Spike Lee (67 000 fans), as well as entire countries (Spain: 25 000 fans). And as time went on, my book’s page overtook ridiculously famous authors like J.K. Rowling (95 000 fans) and even Dan Brown (499 000 fans). Soon, my book had more fans than New York City (510 000 fans). It was mind-boggling, bizarre, and unnerving, especially since it was unclear what was driving this.
If you hate emoticons, you hate history, you boorish, ignorant fool. Our entire civilization was built on the smiley. Or something like that. Oh, and one more thing: ┌∩┐(o_o)┌∩┐ (I kid. It’s actually pretty interesting)
In 1887, Ambrose Bierce wrote an essay, “For Brevity and Clarity,” suggesting ways to alter punctuation to better represent tone. He proposed a single bracket flipped horizontally for wry smiles, “to be appended, with the full stop, to every jocular or ironical sentence.”
Then in 1969, Vladimir Nabokov was interviewed by The New York Times, which asked him how he ranks himself among living writers and those of the immediate past. “I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile—some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question,” he said.
So is it okay to invent punctuation marks? Absolutely.
Well, it’s about time.
At 82, Mr. Merwin is an undisputed master, having written more than 30 books of poetry, translation and prose over the course of six decades.
“W. S. Merwin is an inevitable choice for poet laureate,” said Dana Gioia, a poet and a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “He has created a distinctive style. His poetry is lyrical, elliptical and often slightly mysterious.”
Mr. Merwin, who retains traces of the extravagant handsomeness of his youth, has won just about every major award an American poet can, among them two Pulitzer Prizes, for “The Shadow of Sirius” in 2009 and for “The Carrier of Ladders” in 1971; and the National Book Award in 2005 for “Migration: New and Selected Poems.”
The other 70% is left dangling in the water for unsuspecting fish to find attractive. Amazon is offering authors who sign with them to distribute ebooks a 70% royalty on sales and has created tools for them to easily sell their work through personal websites, which is probably a good thing since you never know what’s going to happen with Amazon’s site…
When money talks, people tend to listen. In a bid to lure authors, Amazon.com on Wednesday said it would give writers 70% of the revenue, minus expenses, from their digital books sales on Amazon’s Kindle store.
In addition, Amazon said it is giving authors the ability to sell their Kindle digital books on their own websites, using an Internet standard called HMTL5.
The two announcements are designed to attract authors who have not yet found a traditional publisher. In this case, Amazon would play the role of the publisher for the digital editions of the books. Writers could still contract separately with a print publisher.
Christopher Hitchens has been diagnosed with cancer and has cancelled his book tour to undergo chemotherapy. Love him or hate him (and I don’t know there’s much of an in between for those who have read him), you have to respect his massive brain and wit, and you don’t wish that on anyone, so: get well, sir.
In a statement released through his publisher Twelve, the British-born provocateur, 61, said that he has “been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me.”
(Still, I can’t help but hope that perhaps the trauma will knock his head back to where it was ten years ago before some one found and flicked the little switch just under his hairline at the back that read “Left/Right”.)
Author and DBE, dead at 75.
To, you know, keep the cat from shitting on the hardwood.
- Liberate the librarians! I’ll be there anon, my dears, as soon as I’ve waxed my chest, properly secured this dagger between my teeth, and climbed the rigging to your lonely spinster paradise
- Giant prehistoric whale named after Melville (great pic here… how awesome is that?)
- Amazon has new Kindle DX (does that mean you can play Mario on it yet?)
- The always laughable Fox news blames libraries for stealing d0llars that could go to your child’s education… no, really!
- DC closes down web store after release iPhone app
- Google cuddling up to ABA to get in with indy bookstores
- US publishers wiggle into Canadian iBookstore
- Tweenlighters not as crazy as they seem? Surely there’s a clue about how to unpack this masterpiece of irony somewhere in the article?
- Samuel Johnson Prize goes to book about North Korea (aka the Krazy Korea)