Magazine: Hearsay:

12/21/05:

Christmas Days
Each day until December 24 we'll add a new excerpt from Derek McCormack's Christmas Days, an advent calendar in prose and illustration, illuminated by Seth


11/17/05:

Ever Revise
Novelist Catherine Bush writes about her unorthodox decision to massively rewrite her latest book between the publication of the hardcover and paperback versions


11/07/05:

Bushwhacked
Ninja Kuitenbrouwer chats with GG nominee Charlotte Gill about writing, treeplanting, and work ethic


10/24/05:

A New Leaf
Canadian literary icon Patrick Lane generously reminisces about his personal renaissance, both as a writer and as a man


10/06/05:

Causing a Scene
Poet and long-time ninja supporter Brenda Schmidt examines the pros and cons of living in isolation versus living in a "scene"


08/17/05:

In Fine Form
Apprentice ninjas and poets John Lofranco and Ian LeTourneau discuss the recent return to form in current Canadian poetry


07/17/05:

Our man in the trenches
Bookninja correspondent and bookseller Paul Vermeersch dishes on what the witching hour was like for anyone over four feet tall


06/03/05:

Report from the front row
Bookninja attends the Griffin Prize gala and finds it's all it's cracked up to be


05/28/05:

The Big O
Marianne Apostolides and Heather Birrell square off for an in-depth discussion of the Oprah Book Club's on-again, off-again relationship with literature


05/16/05:

Pants on Fire!
Kevin Chong went away on a writing retreat and walks us through his Spanish odyssey


04/26/05:

Kinetic/Frenetic
Simple Master, by Alice Burdick - discussed by Chris Jennings and Zach Wells


04/04/05:

Hardcover Logo
Why go HC over TPO? Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer looks at how publishing makes binding decisions


03/21/05:

Eyes on the Prize
When watchdogs attack! A look at the lit contest cottage industry by Zach Wells


03/02/05:

Advice for the Booklorn
Ask Mr. Wordwise by Kevin Chong


02/01/05:

Bookninja TV!
For our first foray into multimedia, Bookninja goes undercover at Stephen Bulger Gallery for the group photography show, Bibliotheca


01/13/05:

Bookninja Exclusive!
TS Eliot Prize
nominee Kathryn Gray tells us what it's been like to go from zero to sixty in four seconds, and ruminates on the nature of literary awards in general




12/31/04:

Happy New Year! Bookninja's Golden Shuriken Awards for Ridiculous Behaviour


Older Material:

Inverse Omnibus Reviews Archive

Essay/Rants Archive

02/01/06:

Cross your fingers
Check back later this afternoon. I am trying working out the final kinks in the redesign and getting ready to switch us over. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/31/06:

Copyright for Dummies
Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins of Duke Law school have created a comic book that explains copyright to filmmakers.

Will a spiky-haired, camera-toting super-heroine vanquish the monster of copyright greed and restore decency and common sense to the world of creative endeavor?

Yes. Yes. Vanquish greed. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Google reaches out
Communication is good. Google placates fears in India.

Digitising books is the online era’s equivalent of library “indexing”, responds Anand. This is not intellectual property theft. Moreover, if you “opt out”, your book won’t be put into computer memory. So there’s no coercion.

Yes. Yes. Vanquish greed. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

UK authors weigh in on what the kids should be reading
Andrew Motion says Homer's Odyssey, Pullman says Sendak, Rowling says Harry Potter. Think of the children, JK. Actually, here's the list in full. Would have been nice to see Astrid Lindgren on the list, especially for Ronia, The Robber's Daughter, and maybe some George MacDonald, Sutcliff and D'Aulaire. Or 50 Cent.(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


01/30/06:


Lisa Moore

Wins Commonwealth Prize [nomination] for Alligator. (discuss) (Posted by George)

NEWSFLASH! POETRY DYING!!
Poetry to become as quaint and annoying as something called morris dancing. Of course, all this only matters if, a) you know what morris dancing is, and b) you came into the whole thing thinking anyone cared about your poems in the first place. There's not only a respectable humility in realizing where things lie, popularity-wise, but a freedom as well. It's like being a nerd in high school. The only ones that are fun to tease are the ones who don't want to be nerds. The rest of us are perfectly happy in the horn-rims and floods, thank you. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Coetzee on translation
A really interesting first person perspective from my favourite author Coetzee. He ruminates on the roles in translating a work of literary fiction, the translator's, his own, and that of his bilingual readers, from whom he receives the most telling information about translations he can't read himself. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Frey Incident: Chapter 157

One would think the thermonuclear strike known as The Frey Incident (a new Sidney Sheldon novel) should be winding down. But it seems the shockwaves are just starting to be felt in some circles. I believe this is called "impact" and this is called a "blast radius". And this is called "fallout". And this is called "containment". And this is called "half-life". And this is called "nuclear winter". (discuss) (Posted by George)

The playwright mayor
Could Dario Fo be the next mayor of Milan? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Hamilton reporter fights the police
I mean, it's no cracked-out beatdown, but he's fighting for his profession. They're a tough bunch in Hamilton. You know, except for their football team.... (discuss) (Posted by George)


Rumsfeld's war on the mind has acceptable civilian casualties
American propaganda document says US government doesn't really care if Americans receive misinformation intended for foreign audiences, so long as it doesn't specifically target them.

Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University and posted on the Web today, the 74-page "Information Operations Roadmap" admits that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa," but argues that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

Sweet bunch, they are. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/27/06:

Comedy Central
Maybe, in general, we have to see America ironically. In fact, maybe we should refer to America as "America." A high school student is not allowed to return to his school because he, wait for it, made fun of some of the teachers. I ask, perhaps naively, isn't this the entire point of high school? It certainly was for me.

"Carroll (The Book)," a 14-page publication, was modeled after comedian Jon Stewart's book "America (The Book)." The boy's version includes diagrams, profanity, photos and a picture of school Principal Deb Neumeyer on the cover.

I can just see the administration spluttering, 'Insubordination. This boy needs reprimanding. This could lead to terrorist activities later in life. Or worse. He could put an eye out.' (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Elmo inciting suicidal thoughts in small children
What's new about that, you might ask. Well, shit. It's just a defective potty training book, is all:

If you listen closely to the voice command of character Baby David, it sounds an awful lot like "who wants to die?"

"Some people find it really funny. It is, kind of, like, well, maybe for you it is, but you really need to take into consideration what it is telling these kids."

There's a thought. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Chaplin on Chaplin
Jane Chaplin has researched the biography of Charlie, the father she barely knew. I like the premise of writing a biography, as opposed to a memoir, of one's own father. It's so fresh, and also, with regard to Chaplin, interesting in light of the general silence (groan) of other family members.

Jane Chaplin was 17 when she had her first proper conversation with her aged father, the screen legend Charlie Chaplin, and now she is writing a book about growing up with a man she hardly knew but the world still recognizes as "The Little Tramp."

Entitled "Seventeen minutes with my father," it will be the first book by any of the Chaplin children, she told Reuters in a street cafe Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast. She has lived a life of leisure in the beautiful old port city for three years since a brief affair with a Colombian.

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Oprah's apology and stir Frey

(Really, the big news here is that Frey is pronounced "fry"... How droll.) Admit it, it feels good. She's admitting she was wrong. And there's nothing wrong with feeling high-and-mighty about it. So long as, you know, you don't discount the more basic human urges as "undesirable".... So Oprah has vivisected Frey on her show and exacted revenge on behalf of the little people she lead into literature's Viet Iraq. Who do you think her audience supports? The guy's not even a recovering crackhead. He's a wanna be crackhead. That's more Jerry Springer than it is Oprah. You know, the more I read about it, the more I'm starting to feel the bastard was himself duped by cash-hungry publishing types eager to fit him in the genre-du-jour. I mean, he DID try to sell it as fiction... Not excusing it, just pointing it out. Another opinion here. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Plagiarism: the other lying
Why, given the state of investigative journalism and the loss of credibility involved, do people continue to plagiarize? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Going out of print: as natural as death
And as scary, I would think.

Consider, then, the duration of copyrights. They've gone from 28 years renewable to 56, then 28 renewable to 95, to life of the author plus 70. Given the range of human lifespans and the extreme rarity of prepubescent authors, you can pretty much figure that by the time a 95-year copyright runs out, the author will be dead and gone, and any offspring will have reached their majority. You can't exactly draw a line, but somewhere in there, copyright stops being about directly rewarding an author for his work. What's left is an intangible time-travelling value: the hope of being read.

(From BoingBoing) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Story Prize
Goes to Patrick O'Keefe. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Awww...! Look at those hangdog expressions! Let's buy them some presents!
Or rather, Oprah hangs Jimmy out to dry (while not addressing any root issues behind either the gaping maw that is her following or her role as tosser of fish to these barking seals) in front of the same audience for which she scrubbed him up and sent him out to dance. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/26/06:

Who's poking the Canlit celebrities
Leah McLaren went a-questing. Meet Dr Zhao, acupuncturist to the stars:

Ms. Sharpe believes Dr. Zhao, who has never advertised, has become the acupuncturist to Toronto's literati by pure serendipity. "In certain social circles people are just very open to talking about their health," she says. "This is just something that's happened to her. One person tells another person. It just so happens the people are Michael Ondaatje telling Graeme Gibson telling [the playwright] David Young."

This article needed a photojournalist; pictures of our favourite Canadian writers stuck full of pins. The mere idea is so...cool. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Encyclopaedia of Afghani Jihad
Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri has alot of explaining to do, and is doing so in his trial.

Mr Abu Hamza faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which allege that he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.

He faces four other charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred".

A further charge claims the defendant was in possession of video and audio recordings which he intended to distribute to stir up racial hatred.

Talk about having the wrong book in your library. The weird thing is that when I punched the title of the aggregious book into google, I landed on a white supremicist website. Like attracts like, I guess.(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

"The secret life of a letter to the editor"
Apparently the letter sold insurance and had three wives, one in Hoboken, one in Portland, and one in St. Petersburg.

In the current New Yorker is a letter to the editor from Valerie Lawson, in response to Caitlin Flanagan’s December 19 article on Pamela Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins. Lawson is the author of a biography of Travers, and her letter reads like a relatively benign effort to make clear the decades-long effort by Poppins scholars to tease out Travers’s elusive life story. It did not begin that way, as this lengthy — and not so benign — e-mail thread between Lawson and editors at The New Yorker shows. The exchange offers a glimpse at the sausage-factory aspect of how the magazine handles complaints, and raises interesting questions about what journalists owe, in terms of recognition, to their sources.

(From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Biography news
An unusual glut. The winner speaks out on what it's like to write biography. Kate Moss signs a deal to have hers penned (no word yet whether it will contain details of the coked-out beating she laid down on seven strapping NYPD officers on the streets of Bed Stuy). Donald Trump gets his silk knickers in a twist over one. And in the US, where they sue when the whether is bad, two people are suing James "Ol' Crackhead Jimmy" Frey for "lost time". I swear to God, the whole genre has gone to the dogs. (One link in there from Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

No more García Márquez
Gabriel has laid down his pen. Presumably in favour of underage prostitutes. (For fuck's sake, Guardian! Get a different file picture! I can never tell if it's an article about Márquez or Saddam Hussein.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Canadian bad girl Eden Robinson
Interviewed at the Ceeb. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Umlauts make you grumpy
Tell that to Mötley Crüe, muthafukkahs! WwaaaAAAaaaAAAaaaa! They're the ones we called Dr. Feelgood! They're the ones that make us feel all riiiiiiIIIIIght! (Germans are a scowly lot because their language makes them that way.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Nerfty!
Thumb thing helps you read books one-handed. Perfect for those bothersome tomes by "Anonymous"! (From BoingBoing) (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/25/06:

Inside-outside
Why are we so obsessed? We've been freyed (I want credit for that if it flies, George; keep your stinking paws off my coinage) by a man who so wishes he were inside he lies about being outside, damaging the reputation of both fiction and non-fiction; now, his publisher has rounded up his old hoodlum friends to testify that he's a bad-ass. Please. And here's Alexandra Gill tilting at George Fetherling, who calls himself an outsider as if it's some badge of courage. And just as senselessly, she wants to take it away, as if it really is a badge of courage. Can thinking in this way ever evolve the human race? Get to work people. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

We are not amused
Prince Charles has publicly stated that his secretary is lying in her new book, lying about the way he dips his crumpet in his Earl Grey and then squeezes it out, lying about the way he twines the hair on the crown of his head in anxious moments, lying about his affection for organic bird millet; that everything she's said, is, in fact, a lie. Oprah is investigating. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Happy birthday, Lady Ninja!
One of the perks of having your own blog is that you get to abuse it for personal reasons. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The new culture minister?
"Culture" minister? I have my eyes tightly closed and am peeking through my fingers, horror film-style. Canada is the bimbo teen who just heard a noise down in the basement and decided to go investigate armed with a faulty flashlight and a wooden spoon, bare knees bent in and shaking. "Hello..? Who's down there..?" (discuss) (Posted by George)

America's future not completely in jeopardy
US law students (!) lead a very simple, very effective protest against the decline of American civil liberties. Bravo. (Lawyers are so cute when they still care.) (From BoingBoing) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Matisse bio wins ‡ Award
Over stellar poet Christopher Logue's Cold Calls, the fifth volume in his reworking of the Iliad. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Gold barf
The fact that they stand to make $300G off this lump of puke is enough to make me throw up with jealousy. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The end of Canadian publishing?
Stephen Henighan wonders if bookstores are to blame. Can't say I buy his argument, but it's entertaining enough.

If the agent is right, we are currently living through the dismantlement of Canadian publishing. Evidence supporting this view is not in short supply. Publishers, to survive, need bookstores. The 2004 statement of Heather Reisman, whose Chapters–Indigo chain controls 70 percent of the Canadian bookselling market, that “our goal has always been to get as close to the Wal-Mart level of excellence as we could,” suffices to tell us where our bookstores are going. The dominance of Chapters–Indigo forces independents and smaller chains to reproduce the “Wal-Mart level of excellence” in order to compete. During three quick trips to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 2004 and 2005, I observed that the selection of books for sale in the once well-stocked and engaging stores of the McNally Robinson group was growing thinner and thinner, just like the selection in Chapters.

(From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Annie Proulx on Brokeback Mountain
Read the headline. Now read the third paragraph. Now read this New Yorker cartoon. Now read this one. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

How William Gibson discovered science fiction
Beautiful ending, as always.

What I wanted was to attain the world of The Time Machine, the Morlocks' garden. Wells's Victorian future nightmare had become a favorite fantasyland, for me. Because it existed so far up the timeline as to be beyond history, and history, once acknowledged, had quickly become a sort of nightmare, one from which there seemed to be no escape.
History, I was learning, there at the start of the nineteen-sixties, never stops happening.

(From Boing Boing) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)



01/24/06:

Hey, Alberta! You suck!
Sorry, just had to get that out of my system before moving on. They say the arts flourish under conservative/totalitarian regimes, but how anything can flourish in that bloody desert of the mind, I'll never know. Dear American liberal friends: I'll can the high-and-mighty superiority complex now. I'm sorry, we let you down. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

In related news: Hey, Ontario! You suck too!
You know, I've always been ashamed that we inherit US policy the way we do. Partly because US policy sucks, and partly because we're so slow on the draw. Six years after Wubblewoo was appointed president, we get his kid brother. So sad. And I blame it all on World War II. You fucking baby boomers. Yes, I'm railing against my parents. This means you, Dad. I'm so gonna stony-silence you when I see you next. Crossed arms and heavy sighing. You just wait. It'll be 16 all over again. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Awards news

Commonwealth shortlist announced: Moore, Ravel, Urquhart, and GEC nominated, among others. And in kids awards, the Newbery and Caldecott announced. And speaking of awards... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Oi! Wots all vis wif ve 'oity-toity reeeeding, ven?
12 million British workers can barely read. Hey, what's the population of Alberta, again? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Now that's poetry... on the way!
Buses in Pittsburgh get poetry. All over them. Much like the vomit in New York. (discuss) (Posted by George)

A million little angles
How can they come at Frey next? That's how you know you've written a good book. It can be dissected on a number of levels. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Cannes opener

Further proof that the modern film festival has lost all relevance: Da Vinci Cash to open Cannes. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Lawsuit against erroneous dictionary
And Peter's not involved. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/23/06:

Librarian lines
Carrie Tiffany, author of Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, writes on 'seems' and 'is' in the Aussie desert.

Books were scarce in the desert. The national park I worked on was serviced by a tourist resort that sold flyspray and wafer-thin boomerangs made in China. It did not sell books. The nearest books were in a library 400 kilometres away. I rang the library and joined up as a remote reader. Books would be sent out to me every month on one of the tourist buses. I couldn't access the catalogue so a librarian would choose the books on my behalf. My librarian was called Merv. I wrote him a note with a summary of my tastes. But I was 20 - it was the summary of a taste for something I had never eaten.

Maybe we don't all need therapists; maybe we need librarian mentors. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

What separates me from you?
If every government in the world becomes extremely conservative in its world view, what does separate me from you? This is terrifying news, here. An Osama bin Laden backed book has become a bestseller. What can I say? Watch out Oprah? By the way, the author of the book, William Blum, is still having trouble getting to Cuba. Here's an interview with him on the topic of bin Laden's new talk show. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Turkish government set to be more progressive than Canadian

Pamuk's out of hot water. Turkey enters the 20th C. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The pleasures of texting
Illustrated, of course, with a photo of women who would never text you. Text porn. Great. Just great. On the eve of the selling of our national soul to an inbred bigot, we now have to deal with text porn. If anyone needs me, I'll be out on the firing range dodging the bullet-free spaces. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Fightened of the Ninjas, Jimmy-boy?
Frey cancels Toronto appearance. He's running scared. From the thought of a Conservative government. Liars can't stand each others' company. (discuss) (Posted by George)

NYT looks at Bush's ballast
What books has Wubblewoo been carrying this year? And what message do they send to the world? They say, Georgie-boy has arms strong enough to carry this book around. They say, this is what Uncle Dick's people say he should show around. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Irving's London obit
In the Guardian. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Christopher Logue

Profiled. Awesome, awesome poet. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Weekend Edition:

HarperCollins blogs
The Literary Saloon points to some new blogs from HC, which look pretty interesting. They already led me to this site on book covers and this site on book binding. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The state of Aussie fiction
All is not well down under. Then again, maybe it's in great shape. Depends on your tastes, it seems.

Over the past few years we've been told it's mediocre and there's too much of it being published; it's overly concerned with historical and exotic themes; there's not enough of it reflecting contemporary life, politics and economics; it wears insipid pastel covers; it's fey, solipsistic, parochial, difficult, not difficult enough; people don't buy it and readers don't read it; and now, perhaps unsurprisingly given this litany of complaints, publishers are retreating from publishing it.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

How'd They Vote
If you're still uncertain about which party to vote for in Monday's federal election -- "Hmm, am I evil? Good? Or just plain neutral?" -- then this site may help you. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Vote with your mind not your wallet
The Harper Conservatives are hiding their loudmouth candidates. Harper has figured out how to appear 'bland.' Canadians like bland. We live for bland. The Conservatives have sequestered their anti-abortion, misogynistic, racist candidates and are trying to make this party look like a middle-of-the-road, sensible choice for a good, strong, accounting-style government. It's got Margaret Wente fooled (who says you can't fool the fool?). It's got a lot of stay-at-home mums fooled (re: childcare policy). The truth is, with Harper we won't get what we want (i.e. bland), we'll get something far, far other.

Will America return to the culture that made it great, our traditional, Judeo-Christian, Western culture? Or will we continue the long slide into the cultural and moral decay of political correctness? If we do, America, once the greatest nation on earth, will become no less than a third world country.

Judeo-Christian? Hello? Get your heads out of the sand. These are the people who want Harper to win. Call your waffling parents. Call your culturally- shielded aunt. Plead. On hands and knees. For the sake of bland, tell them, do not vote Conservative. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


01/20/05:


More on the Sony Reader
Wired has a detailed piece on Sony's new e-book reader, including pics and an explanation of how the E Ink technology works. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The year ahead in the book biz
Publishers are discovering this Internet thingy.

If 2005 showed one thing, it was that the web continues to explode in terms of importance to the book industry. Matthew Shear, senior vice president and publisher of St. Martin’s Press, summed it up: “We need to be [on the web] with our books, our ads, our blogs, our promotions and whatever it may be.”

In 2005, a website called TheNamelessNovel.com used interactive trivia, games and promotions to combine many of these aspects and promote the latest Lemony Snicket novel from HarperCollins. In 2006, HarperCollins plans to continue this trend to promote the 13th and final Snicket title, said Jim McKenzie, director of online marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books. As long as Internet promotions “reach consumers and create community,” Jane Friedman said, “experimenting and being innovative will continue into 2006.”

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Look out, Oprah
It's the Amazon talk show!

With "Amazon Fishbowl With Bill Maher," Amazon.com Inc. is trying to blend commerce with entertainment, much as Starbucks Corp. sells CDs and DVDs alongside coffee to position its brand as a lifestyle. In an e-commerce twist on movie and TV product placement, Amazon will place links to buy the works discussed during the show beside the program's display window.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

What does a book sound like?
That depends on whether it's one of my volumes of poetry or the Lowell Collected... ("Pif" or "THUD" respectively...)

this is the first time he has had to ponder what a footnote sounds like. But the industry increasingly has to address such vexing one-hand-clapping questions: What does an illustration sound like? Or a chart? A map? A photograph? A blank page?

There are a few things left unconsidered here: dog ears, coffee rings, and the occasional fallen beard hair among them. Oh, hell, it would all be so much easier if we just skipped audio and made books TV. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Poe circus sends in the clowns
I remember the first time I read about this, maybe five or six years ago, I thought, once word gets out, this will turn into a circus. Now the clowns are ruining some goth's party. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Carol Ann Duffy
Winner of the Eliot, profiled. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Speaking of poetry...
A former "student" of mine, James Reid has a poem in the Guardian poetry workshop. Way to go, Jim! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Peter Pan II: The Recopyrighting

The sequel is coming October 5th of this year. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Purty book

1922's Ulysses by some no-name hack is the most valuable novel of the 20th C. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Potter thief gets time in Azkaban
Four-and-a-half years? The journalist should get half that himself for being a fucking idiot. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Naughty librarian week
Only a week!?
Can television get any better? (Thanks, Tate) (discuss) (Posted by George)


How things have changed
Google Earth captures a picture of a flying antique once used for "photo-reconnaissance duties". (discuss) (Posted by George)

The right takes out bounty on the left

See this article. Continue your reading with the post below. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The church of Stephen Harper
Ninja reader Paul pointed out some interesting tidbits on the website of the church (Christian & Missionary Alliance) to which Conservative leader, and presumptive Prime Minister, Stephen Harper belongs. Paul did a search on the term "women" which turned up this page of results . Click anything to have the Holy Bejesus scared out of you. But for a real scare click point #5 (Role of Women in Ministry - page 61) which will open a Word document that will knock your socks off. I pulled a couple choice quotes, in case you don't want to sully your computer with the download (emphasis is mine).

THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN MINISTRY

From its inception the Alliance leadership has interpreted Scripture to affirm the woman’s right in the apostolic church to be the channel of spiritual gifts for the edification of the local assembly. Furthermore, Alliance leadership has historically affirmed a restraint upon the woman’s role in the government of the local church. The Board recognizes that the Holy Scriptures teach the following principles.

BASIC SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES OF WOMEN IN MINISTRY

1. Authority and Submission. It is recognized that God has sovereignly ordained, in the order of creation and redemption, relationships of authority and submission. “Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of woman and God is the head of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:3). The nature of authority is modelled in the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). The goal of authority is to build up the household of faith (II Corinthians 13:10). Submission to authority is noble and gives substance to unity (Ephesians 4:1-6).

4. Eldership. It is recognized that the historical and biblical pattern has been that elders in the church have been men. The weight of evidence would imply that this pattern should continue.

Why isn't this being reported on the national news? It would be interesting to see what other keyword searches turn up. If you're a swing voter and you go Harper, you're going to regret it. Mark my words. (discuss) (Posted by George)



01/19/05:

More author podcasts
Tattered Covers has started a site for downloadable author readings. It has some good names coming up. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

The New Yorker and slow design
Timeless or exasperating? I'll go with timeless myself. (From Maud) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Atwood on the election
Oh, yeah, and she's got more new books coming out. (From Quill) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

 


01/18/06:

A Million Little Pieces actually a memoir of Grand Theft Auto session
God bless the Onion. (From Bookslut) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Stephen King ringtones
I'm waiting for the Stephen King vibration alerts myself. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Charles Taylor prize shortlist
Yeah, it's a great time for memoirs to be nominated.... (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Joseph Sherman obit
David Helwig remembers poet and cultural philanthropist Joe Sherman in the Globe and Mail. (Thanks, Z) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ah, the 18th of the month...
The day that marks the longest possible time before the hammer-like pendulum of inevitability known as "big banking" swings back round to clock me for another massive student loan payment. How romantic. See, that's my cheap-assed segue into romance posts. Really. I can't think of anything else to say about the entire genre. (discuss) (Posted by George)

On the short story
Ang Lee's adaptation of Proulx's masterful story is leading a revival of interest in the short story. Okay, I made that up. But the wee dear things are getting some good press.

The Irish short fiction writer Frank O'Connor once noted that the difference between the short story and the novel is "the difference between pure and applied storytelling". The short story is the adaptation of the primitive art of communicating experience by telling a tale. Walter Benjamin, in his essay The Storyteller, lamented the fall in value of experience, attributing it to dependence upon information as communication. Information, he says, "doesn't survive the moment in which it was new". Narrative achieves an amplitude that information lacks: it can live forever.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

CSM jumps right on that Frey story
Ah, the CSM... the daily that reads like a weekly. But seriously, is there anything left to say? Yes. When the Christian papers are crucifying you, you're pretty much facked. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weapons... Energy... I can see how you might make that mistake...
CNN "mistranslated" a comment by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (and possible next US-deposed world leader), quoting him as saying that Iran had the right to build "nuclear weapons"... Of course, this had to be re-translated before it was passed on to Wubblewoo. "Now Georgie, I want you to concentrate very hard. Look me in the eyes when I'm speaking. The EYES, Georgie... Sit still, now. Good boy. Iran is trying to build, and I quote, 'nukular weapons'. Do you follow me? 'Nukular.' 'Nuuuukularrr.' Okay... good boy. Now... sic 'em!" (discuss) (Posted by George)

Douglas Coupland designs a park
With plenty of places to sit and feel dejected. (discuss) (Posted by George)

McSweeney's folk do something wrong
Video magazine Wolphin (a cross between a Wolp and a Hin) not working out already. Uncool, unpublished writers everywhere dancing in gleeful schadenfreude. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Can't we all just get along?

Dudes, if this shit can go down in a zoo with tiny-brained varmints, imagine the possibilities for "higher" forms of life. Like sea monkeys and Mensa members. (Seriously though, I hope we get an update when the snake casually gobbles up it's best pal without a second thought. Anthropomorphize that, suckah.) (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/17/06:

Save the Wales
They're big, they're blubbery and they're practically extinct; Welsh literary classics are being reprinted:

The Library of Wales series aims to re-print books about Wales written during the 20th Century which are either out-of-print or difficult to obtain. The books have new-look covers even though they are classics

A list of 20 has been drawn up by historian and culture writer Professor Dai Smith. Each book has been given a new foreword by contemporary Welsh writers, including Prof Smith.

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Ashes to ashes dust to dust
How developers are destroying history one condo at a time. Okay, that's a little reactionary but still. The poor, wee, little books. Think on the books, ye shiteholes!

The recent prosperity and development of the capital of Ireland is causing major problems for one of the city's most venerable institutions, the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

The university has discovered to its dismay that a quarter of a million books, many of them irreplaceable and dating from the earliest days of print, have been damaged by building dust.

News like this make me want to cough; I mean, cry. Cry. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Michiko on Frey

And everyone else, like a truth seeking hybrid of missile/wolverine.

We live in a relativistic culture where television "reality shows" are staged or stage-managed, where spin sessions and spin doctors are an accepted part of politics, where academics argue that history depends on who is writing the history, where an aide to President Bush, dismissing reporters who live in the "reality-based community," can assert that "we're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." Phrases like "virtual reality" and "creative nonfiction" have become part of our language. Hype and hyperbole are an accepted part of marketing and public relations.

There's no denying she's, as we call our son, a smartycakes. And in related news: glutton for punishment, or thumbing her nose? Oprah picks another memoir for her book club. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Award news
Carol Ann Duffy wins the Eliot for poetry for her Rapture. Arundhati Roy says no to an Indian Award. (discuss) (Posted by George)


It's not just the call centre employee listening to you rant...
It's their computer too. EwEwEwEwEeeeew! (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Empire's assault on Bloggin 2 has begun
Help us all, God will. (First link from Slushpile) (discuss) (Posted by George)

If poets named breakfast cereals
Sigh. If only we could make that much money. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Review editors discover blogs!
The Literary Saloon points to a couple of blogs run by lit editors at newspapers. It'd be nice to have a full list of blogging newspaper types, but I haven't seen anything yet. Anyone know any others? See also the Guardian's Culture Vulture, which directed my attention to the interesting Friday Project, which turns blogs into books. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Free book a day
The Mad Professor points out Project Gutenberg now has an RSS feed listing its new titles. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

OW — Out of Whack (or Oprah-Worthy)
The L.A. Times proposes a handy ratings guide for memoirs to prevent future Frey fiascos. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

 


01/16/06:

Blogging writers
Log-jamming the tributaries of creativity with their putrid decaying bodies. Or something like that. Or not. What day is this? (discuss) (Posted by George)

You have only yourself to blame, Oprahtomotons
It's the readers done did it, see? You're off the hook again, Jimmy boy!

There is, however, a deeper issue worth considering buried in all this pop-cultural titillation: Why are people so easily victimized by this sort of emotional con man? For some years, book publishing, television and — more recently — a growing segment of the news media have been sinking deeper and deeper into a particularly fetid sinkhole carved by two social currents that now dominate our collective lives.

Why don't you celebrate with a wine spritzer and maybe a drive by insulting of some old lady. Gentlemen! To Evil! (discuss) (Posted by George)

A dream come true, OED-style
Imagine finding yourself cited in the OED. This guy came up with "Nixonism". My best neologism is still "douché" -- what you say when conceding defeat to an asshole. But do you think THAT will get in? NooOOOoo! (discuss) (Posted by George)

National Book Critics Circle Award shortlist announced
Orhan Pamuk, Vikram Seth, and ... wait for it... Joan Didion, are on the list. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I say we must take a stand now! Raise your voices with me, brothers and sisters: "No to tablets without psychotropic effect!"
The future of reading. Think Star Trek. But clunkier. And on a rental basis, most likely. Sigh. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The year of Ibsen
The long, slow year of Ibsen. I guess I just don't get these big budget musicals with their flashing lights, soundtracks and laser beams. (discuss) (Posted by George)

How to make a million off poetry
As told by what appears to be a relative of Frodo Baggins. Don't all click at once now, y'hear? We don't want to put the Beeb servers out of sorts with a massive traffic flow of hungry poets. Filthy Bagginses. (From Brenda) (discuss) (Posted by George)


My inner nerd is all stiff and engorged with blood
Ahh... The term "hyperspace" in a serious article. Now we're getting somewhere. Pleasepleaseplease in my lifetime? Purtyplease? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Waiting for the new Gutenberg
The Guardian says e-books are going to take over the market sooner rather than later. I was fine with that until Bill Gates started talking.

For the demagogues at Microsoft and Google, the future is a place where we will all be wandering around with "tablets" onto which extracts of the entire human literary output can be downloaded. Like an iPod for books.

"Within four or five years, instead of spending money on textbooks," Mr Gates said recently about students, "they'll spend a mere $400 or so buying that tablet device and the material they hook up to will all be on the wireless internet with animations, timelines and links to deep information. But they'll be spending less than they would have on textbooks and have a dramatically better experience."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Some things never change
Like Canadians not reading Canadian books.

Not one Canadian book was among the top 20 sellers in that pre-Christmas season, a very important time for the retail book market. Mass-market books from foreign authors dominated. The top seller was A Million Little Pieces by U.S. author James Frey. Second was Guinness World Records 2006 and third was Whiteout by British-based writer Ken Follett. The highest-ranked Canadian book, in 23rd spot, was Race Against Time, a series of Massey Lectures by Stephen Lewis, the UN's African AIDS envoy.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Children of the corn
Jessa Crispin wonders what happened to all the adults in literature.

Boredom during a Chicago winter can lead to all sorts of odd behavior, like rearranging furniture for hours on end, as if the right feng shui will make the sun burst through the clouds. I finally settled on moving the bookcase of unread books into the bedroom to give myself reason to get out of bed in the cold, cold morning; then I started going through the books as I removed them from the shelves. There was The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. Ali Smith's The Accidental. Galt Niederhoffer's A Taxonomy of Barnacles. Dara Horn's The World to Come. Evan Kuhlman's Wolf Boy. Amanda Boyden's Pretty Little Dirty. David Mitchell's Black Swan Green. They all had one obvious thing in common: the adolescent protagonist.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

 


01/13/06:

Vote Canadian Arts
Nice website. Now let's get some votes. The stack of five dirty loonies really captures it, eh? (Thanks, Paul) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Joining the Frey
NYT comments:

The memoir is, indeed, a loose and slippery genre - as loose and slippery as memory itself. And there's a difference, even in publishing, between the lies we tell about ourselves and the lies we tell about others. It is a rare publisher that troubles to fact-check an author's claims, especially in times when proofreading can seem like too much trouble. But Doubleday's defense of Mr. Frey isn't about the author or the genre. It's about the audience's response.

Also, it looks as though future editions will carry a warning. Perhaps they should have a picture of a set of eviscerated black lungs over half the cover. This is all well and good, but I think we're losing sight of the real tragedy here: we're all too late to help Oprah. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Irving gets his NYT obit
Here. (I thought our country's highest honour was scoring a goal against Russia in international hockey. You know, like five of them. You learn something new every day.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

I think Apollo really needs to proton torpedo Starbucks

Send in the Cylons. Starbucks has gone mad with power. (discuss) (Posted by George)

That's right, just Kathryn.... like Madonna, or Prince...
Ninja K's The Nettle Spinner chosen as a January Magazine Best of 05. Way to go, Kathryn! (discuss) (Posted by George)

LAT gets a Tan
Amy Tan to assume LAT Magazine literary editorship. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Me! Me! Oh! Oh! Me! Pick ME!
Bloomsbury is looking for a target to drop their Potter earnings on... (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/12/06:

FTBITTTD
Neal Pollack's updated his previous commentary on James Frey.

It's been a hard life because the cops won't start--I mean stop--beating me up. The other day, I spilled coffee on the passenger seat of my 2006 BMW Convertible. That pissed me off so much that I stopped off at the closest Catholic church and hired a bunch of bums to gang-rape a nun. That's how much of a bad-ass I am.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

More literary hoaxes
The CBC has a roundup of other notable literary frauds. Not that James Frey thinks there's anything wrong with making things up in a memoir. Why should he when his publisher doesn't care? (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

It's my democracy and you can't have it
The White House won't let author, William Blum, attend a book fair in Cuba. Ironically, his book is called Killing Hope.

Killing Hope, translated into Spanish and published by Editorial Oriente, is a detailed account of the involvement of the Pentagon, the US State Department and the CIA in diverse parts of the world spanning from the end of the Second World War until the mid-1990s.

It's weird, you know; the US government is rarely so short-sighted in these matters. Here's what you do, Mr Blum. You buy a ticket to Toronto and then fly to Cuba from here. You can even stop over and have dinner at my place; meet the kids, see my photos of Havana (nice town, btw, though a little run down what with all the sanctions and the fall of communism). (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Oprah figures out what to say
Phew. I knew she'd come through. Fast on the ball, that one; hey, I wonder how many committee members it took to come up with the 'Oprah'
reaction. Wait for it; yes, here it comes:

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict ... and stepped out of that history to be the man he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves," Winfrey said Wednesday night in a surprise phone call to CNN's Larry King, who was interviewing Frey on his live television program.

Yup. What is relevant is that he was a drug addict. Yup. Yup. That's it. I liked the term 'emotional truth'. It feels true so it must be true? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Manga meets Buddha
This sounds way cool. Deepak Chopra just got richer and way, way cooler.

The biggest question on people’s minds is this: will Deepak Chopra write comics? “Absolutely,” he replies. “I have a novel I am writing right now on the life of Buddha that we are going to also create a graphic novel out of. It's a wonderful story and as my son likes to remind me, the story of Buddha "pre-enlightenment" - so their is action and lust and rage and so many of the elements that inspire an epic. I'm planning on telling many more stories via this medium as well.”

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Stamp news
The biggest stamp mosaic. What can I add to that? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


01/11/06:

Random House offers refunds on A Million Little Pieces
For customers who bought the book directly from the publisher anyway.

Random House will offer a refund to readers who bought James Frey's drug and alcohol memoir "A Million Little Pieces" directly from the publisher, a move believed to be unprecedented, after the author was accused of exaggerating his story.

Readers calling Random House's customer service line to complain on Wednesday were told that if the book was bought directly from the publisher it could be returned for a full refund. Those who bought the book at a bookstore were told to try and return it to the store where it was bought.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Short Story 101
The Danforth Review asked a bunch of Canuck writers what short stories they would teach in an introductory course. I avoided the question by proposing a different course, but other writers had some nice choices -- both expected and unexpected. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The Sony Portable Reader System
Sony's latest e-book reader wants to be the iPod of books, and it may be. Publishers certainly seem to think so, as Random House and HarperCollins will sell books through Sony's Connect store. Unfortunately, their Connect store only works with Internet Explorer 5.5 and up, so who knows if the store is any good? Still, I'm intrigued by the reader. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Quill & Quire news
If you walked into your local independent bookstore and complained loudly about Quill and Quire being late on the stands and then walked out furious (well, okay, disappointed), here's some advise: ask the clerk at the front desk for help. No, it isn't filed in the back row of a ten foot tall magazine rack anymore. It's changed format. Meet the new, compact, forest- friendly Quill & Quire. You won't have to sully your fingers on the LRC to get it, nor will you have to ask to borrow a step ladder. It's easy to store and it looks great. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Publisher to public: please continue to buy this book
Doubleday and Anchor say it really doesn't matter if Frey is lying. I wouldn't think so either if, you know, it didn't say "memoir" on the spine. A few weeks back, before this story broke, I overheard a couple of Oprah clones in Bookcity on Bloor St talking about the book. "Have you read it?" one asked. "It's terrible. Awful writing. And he's full of shit." I guess some saw it coming. Maybe we should have a contest to come up with a new category name for books like Frey's... "Fictoir", or "Memtion", or "Autolieography" or something. Any ideas? (Last link from Bookslut, second last sent in by Alex) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Using language as makeup for your ugly face
"Ethnic cleansing" is used to avoid "genocide", extraordinary rendition" is used to avoid "kidnapping for the purposes of torture".

BEYOND any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language last year was "extraordinary rendition". To those of us who love words, this phrase's brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive.

I guess it's not really fashionable anymore to point out similarities with 1984, is it? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Treasure island
Poetry is an island unto itself. A rich fucking island thanks to Ruth Lilly. What now? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Pamuk primer
Feel guilty for not giving a shit about the whole Pamuk thing? Now's your chance to get caught up on watercooler fodder. Who am I kidding. Look behind you. Carefully! You don't want to let them know you're looking. Do you think those people talk about anything but Survivor at the watercooler? That's the reason you're excluded, brainiac. You're alone. Alone and trapped in a job you can barely stand with people you disdain. Admit it. Then the healing can begin. Now, quietly rise from your desk and gather your mildewy tomes for break. Go spend some quality social time with your pal Proust. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Now, isn't it ironic?
Alanis to publish self-help book. It's about how to help yourself. And helping oneself to a self-helping of help. Oh, songstress! Heal thyself! (discuss) (Posted by George)


Like Prince, Bogman wore hairgel to make himself look taller
Turns out the whole A Flock of Seagulls movement started much earlier than previously thought. (discuss) (Posted by George)

James Frey to appear on Larry King Live tonight.
Or so he claims.

Bridget Leininger of CNN said Tuesday that Frey would not be interviewed for the entire hour-long program, but otherwise did not discuss details. Alison Rich, a spokeswoman for publisher Doubleday, and Frey spokeswoman Lisa Kussell both declined comment.

Frey's book has sold millions of copies and made him a hero among recovering addicts, but an investigative Web site has alleged substantial inaccuracies, with inflated claims about his criminal record and about his involvement in an accident that killed two high school students.

Hmm, wonder if all this will affect the film, er, adaptation. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Can newspapers really use author photos?
My job is getting all too complicated these days.

Harris, who has shot for The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek, is suing the Knight Ridder owned newspaper for using one of his photographs in a book review.

The San Jose Mercury News filed a motion for summary judgment, which argued that taking copyrighted photographs to accompany book reviews is a common practice at other major newspapers and that the action was legal under the "fair use" defense.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Look out, Amazon
Google may be opening an online bookstore. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

 


01/10/06:

"A living, growing thing"
The canon is dead.

Since it first appeared in 1962, "The Norton Anthology of English Literature" has remained the sine qua non of college textbooks, setting the agenda for the study of English literature in this country and beyond. Its editor, therefore, holds one of the most powerful posts in the world of letters, and is symbolically seen as arbiter of the canon.

With the publication of the anthology's newest edition this month, Norton is marking a significant generational shift: after more than 40 years as founding and general editor, M. H. Abrams, a leading scholar of Romanticism, is handing the reins over to Stephen Greenblatt, a Shakespeare scholar and Harvard professor.

Long live the canon. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Will kidlit revive the post office
As burning a question as, Will kids ever put down their Gameboys and play post office again? America has cool new stamps. Too bad no one actually uses the mail anymore. No. I mean that. It is too bad. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Papa Hem and the beeg Ceegar
Cuba has allowed a lecturer from Wales access to a Cuban archive on Hemingway.

Philip Melling, a reader in the department of American studies, has been given permission to study research conducted by Cuban writers and academics over the past 40 years.

Sounds like Fidel is loosening up in his old age. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Literature is alive in the cracks and corners
Like mildew. Someone get an old toothbrush!

This isn't the first time I've seen a red flag. Ten years ago, Lewis Lapham heralded the death of literature in a published letter to his nephew (an aspiring writer) in Harper's magazine. I wondered then, as I do now: Could this be true? I've always found literacy and literature outside the mainstream and in the private corners and cracks of society. Below Manhattan, in the city's subway system, you can find more readers of classical and contemporary literature than you can in all the city's libraries. I wonder how the report might have come out had New York City subway riders been tested.

Dudes, if you're merely talking about "print", I say, yes, it'll remain alive in the subways of New York. But the grimy issues of the New York Post and tattered movie posters don't count as literature. Seriously, even if the margins ARE the ones holding up the roof, shouldn't we be worried that there aren't enough walls? They ARE the misfits, after all, not the masses. Should we be shifting our save-the-whales rhetoric about "the death of literature" to "the death of society's outcasts"? (discuss) (Posted by George)

And in related doom and gloom news
The reading crisis is whack, yo. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I'm betting the dog won't talk about the five hamburgers, the quick stop at the intern's desk, and the briefcase full of non-sequential, unmarked bills...
I kid. Kid, because I love. I love my decadent Democrats, just as much as I despise my decadent Republicans. Ted Kennedy has "written" a children's book about a dog that follows his senator around for a day. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Reading the post-LANGUAGE poets
Joan Houlihan, everyone's favourite American pot-stirrer (we have our own up here), tries to read three books of LANGUAGE poetry. Hilarity ensues.

The lag time between the appearance of an original, culturally significant art form and the culture’s ability to apprehend it has a long, well-documented history. It was during such time that we laughed when Pollock spattered his canvas, covered our ears upon hearing Bob Dylan’s croaky tunes, or tossed our first Ashbery onto the floor in frustration. Then we caught up to, marveled at, enjoyed these expansions of our aesthetic pleasures. A history of the creative arts, along with the development of our own taste and ability to enjoy them, teaches us that we are less likely to appreciate something new than we are to reject it, often to our subsequent embarrassment. We learn that prudence should prevail in the face of the new. After all, no one among us wants to be seen as the historical ass, one who, like Edmund Wilson, complains about the “impenetrability” of Henry James only to be shown decades later that the only impenetrability was that of Wilson’s brain. We may even learn to welcome the new as a freshening process. Failing that, we can tell ourselves that “history will take care of it” in the same way a wronged believer is comforted by the idea that “God will judge” when there seems to be no earthly justice. There’s no understanding now, but surely, someone, somewhere, at some future time will understand—and that’s enough. Isn’t it?

Not really. Not when it comes to three decades, and counting, of Language, post-structuralism-influenced, neo-surrealist, post-avant poems. Such poems are not simply mutating from one type of impenetrability to another; they are multiplying fiercely. In fact, the 2004 Best American Poetry was positively swarming with them. It’s time to create a swarm-free space where we can evaluate them, hold them to account, appreciate or discard them. But how does an interested reader do that, except by trying to read them? That’s where the trouble starts.

These first two paragraphs made me drool. And I won't tell you whether it was from relish or foamy rage. Hope you enjoy or are enraged. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The shattering memoir that will leave you guessing
A Million Little Pieces is breaking up. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Da Vinci people
Take a walking tour of a beautiful city as seen through the eyes of a lucky hack writer. Magical. Make sure you don't accidentally see anything not in the book. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

7M
Potter's still got the magic, baby. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Canadian film magazine dies
Maybe it was just the battery in the Handicam. Did you check that, guys? Sometimes if you give it a little shake it'll start recording again and we can get this NFB film done by this aft. Come on! We're a hundred bucks over budget here and the craft services truck will only hang around so long! (discuss) (Posted by George)


Proof that TV is bad for you

You'll be watching it two years after you're dead. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I should really save this for Friday
But I'll forget about it by then. Some Ninja/Pirate silliness. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/09/06:

RIP: Joe Sherman (1945-2006)
Ninja-reader, poet and critic Zach Wells writes in with this obituary: "PEI poet Joe Sherman, the author of four poetry collections and two more forthcoming, died today in Charlottetown, a few months after his diagnosis with cancer of the liver. Joe's precisely laconic, often witty, poetry dealt with themes both personal and social, particularly Jewishness. He was actively involved in the arts as a curator, editor and journalist, and encouraged emerging poets from PEI as a publisher with Saturday Morning Chapbooks. He is survived by his wife Ann and children Matthew and Rebekah." (discuss) (Posted by George)

Copyright infringement indeed
Sam Bulte, my local Liberal candidate, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Liberal whose Bulte Report on copyright issues caused a stir when it came out, is being feted in a little fundrasier next week at The Drake. Guess who's going? Oh, no one. Well, I mean besides all the publishing, theatre and music industry and corporation people who are already helping pay for her campaign. And besides the pro-copyright lobby. But I'm sure they're all going because they like a good party and not for any, you kow, corrupt or scandalous reasons (see second entry). Oh, those Liberals; they're so...liberal. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Hypergraphia
Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, is writing novels now. I'm sure you were all wondering what the heck had happened to him. I know I was.

The first book is called ''Doppelganger,'' the name for the twin that, according to mythology, each of us has somewhere in the world. Hunter is loath to describe it in detail before publication, except to note that it puts to use the quantum mechanics theory of physics and includes ''a whole lot of doppelgangers.'' He's waiting on word from his publisher on when it will be released.''I feel I've got 10 books in me.''

I feel just the same. I just need time to, excuse me, urp, digest them all. Hey, which mythological creature took the name doppelganger, anyway? I'm a little hazy on that. Anyone? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

High hopes for DVC PB

Random says it will print 5M paperbacks of The Da Vinci Code. One can only wonder whether this will bite them in the ass. Most people I know either refuse to read the book on grounds of artistic snobbery (me) or have borrowed a hard-cover copy that's been passed around more times than that girl in high school who always wore the Iron Maiden shirt. (Gotta love the part where they say Bertelsmann figures readers have been waiting for a less-expensive version... Um, yeah. How come you haven't given it to them yet, greedy guts?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Truthiness?
Word of the year. Funny. It's all relative, I suppose. Judging from my life, you would have thought "craptastic" would have made it. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Write a novel in a year...
I guess that's more reasonable than a month or three days, but it kind of sounds like you end up with the same thing. Regardless, if you're not one of the many already-writers who read this site, then you could be, a year from now, if you follow this column. I'll pass out the tams and turtlenecks at next December's graduation. And then you'll be given the keys to the secret door at the back of The Second Cup. Neato. (discuss) (Posted by George)

It's official: the CIA doesn't like books
Especially ones about the CIA. (discuss) (Posted by George)

More Irving
A little more Irving, clinging to headlines, worldwide. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Why don't men read relation-advice books?
BWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! O GOD, THAT'S RICH! HAHAHA HAHAHAHAAHAAAAA! Wooo! Let me catch my breath...! Hang on... Hee hee... Hee... Okay, seriously.... you see, the problem here is that men... BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! I CAN'T DO IT! HAHAHAHAAAAH HAAAA! (It's because we're insensitive shitbags. See my DVC post above for details.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Make sure you moisturize your books every now and then, or they might end up with unsightly wrinkles...
Books bound in human skin. Blech. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The most stolen book?
The Bible. Didn't you just know it was coming? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Loopholes in the language
I used to have this joke when I was a an insufferable kid like Calvin (as opposed to my current insufferable self). I'd say to someone, "Do you know how to spell pneumonia?" and when they said, "Yes," I'd say, "Okay, spell it." Then they'd go through the motions and I'd say, "Duh, that's not how you spell it. It's spelled "I-T"..." I never got tired of that one. This reminds me of that. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Weekend Edition:

A Criminal and Addict? Or a Fraud?
The Smoking Gun investigates James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces. Threats of lawsuits follow.

Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw "wanted in three states."

In additon to these rap sheet creations, Frey also invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book's most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy's third victim. It's a cynical and offensive ploy that has left one of the victims' parents bewildered. "As far as I know, he had nothing to do with the accident," said the mother of one of the dead girls. "I figured he was taking license...he's a writer, you know, they don't tell everything that's factual and true."

(From 3 Quarks Daily) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Second-novel syndrome
Everyone suffers from it. Except me. I've switched to writing porn scripts.

Peter Carey still fears it after two Booker Prizes and 20 years. Harper Lee feared it so badly she gave up. Zadie Smith had it, but crashed through. In March the world will discover whether DBC Pierre, the 2003 Booker winner with Vernon God Little, is suffering from it.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

22 cents a story
Bert Archer has a piece in the Toronto Star about the online subscription fiction of Bruce Holland Rogers. Quite appropriately, he turns to Bookninja for a quote. Really, we should be everybody's primary source.

So, since January 2002, Rogers — who's published several books the old-fashioned way, and won several prestigious prizes, including the small-press Pushcart Prize for short fiction, and two Nebula Awards for science fiction — has been sending out three stories a month to subscribers who send him $8 a year. That works out to 22 cents a story.

Is it worth the money?

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Reading Lolita in 2006
And how Reading Lolita in Tehran got it wrong.

To her, "Lolita" is "the story of a twelve-year-old girl who had nowhere to go. Humbert had tried to turn her into his fantasy, into his dead love, and he had destroyed her. The desperate truth of Lolita's story is not the rape of a twelve-year-old by a dirty old man, but the confiscation of one individual's life by another." (Emphasis Nafisi's.) Here one takes a deep breath, pauses and wonders what to say to her.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

I'm tired of books
Well, despite the rumours about the end of reading, Alex Good thinks things are looking up (sort of), although that may end with the publication of the last Harry Potter (last link from Quill). (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The young man who had it all and threw it away?
The New Yorker on James Agee.

In “Famous Men,” Agee is not a political writer but a poetic and metaphysical writer, who wanted to honor reality, and also to abolish it. There is a trap built into his kind of intense receptivity. That a person or a thing is itself and nothing else, and is therefore worthy of notice and celebration, may be the beginning of morality, but it’s also the beginning of tragedy.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

J.G. Ballard is everywhere
The good -- but slightly twisted -- people at Things see J.G. Ballard's ideas everywhere in modern society, from architecture to silt. Can't wait to see that silt movie. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

 


01/06/06:

More Layton encomium
And deservedly so. That old lech was, on average, a great poet--his most enduring work cancelling out the scads of dross. Star. Reuters. JTA. Spectator. Gazette/VC Sun. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Michiko loves Nick
I normally don't link to reviews, but Laird seemed like a nice guy in the minute I met him and IFOA and this particular review contains a line I will print out for my wall of fame: "his prose has none of the self-consciousness or preciousness sometimes displayed by poets-turned-novelists." Ah. Endorphins. Niiiiiice. (discuss) (Posted by George)


fMRI fMRO

(Freaks me right out.) Boing Boing points to a scanning process that can read the activity of the mind as it is working. My readout looks just like a broken VCR clock in the dark. 12:00... 12:00... 12:00... (discuss) (Posted by George)

2,300-year-old writing!?
Apparently it's Mayan, not an issue of the LRC as initially thought. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/05/06:

A Bookninja political moment
My fellow Canajuns. Thinking of voting for Harper? Leave now. But if you're a fence sitter, read this speech to an American Christian organisation. A few choice quotes:

  • "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term"
  • "In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."
  • "the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men"
  • "The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things."
  • "As long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in schools."

Still not swayed? Leave now. If you're thinking he's changed, Nike and Starbucks would like to talk to you about some merchandise. (Thanks, Paul) (discuss) (Posted by George)

RIP: Irving Layton
A Canadian great, dead at 93. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Where does Jesusland appear?
Raht in the middle. Always raht in the middle. A linguistic map of the United States. I love articles with subheads like "Resisting the low back merger". (discuss) (Posted by George)

The literature of legal indictments
Hot stuff, people. I actually get off reading legal opinions. They're so clear and concise. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Word frequencies
Word and letter frequencies. "The" is screwing up the averages. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/04/06:

Little Red Riding Hood=MC2
The physics of fairy tales.

Bringing a gold-laying goose to life, meanwhile, requires a bit of Newtonian physics.

"What if a goose really had to lay a golden egg?" Stocklmayer asked. "When they lay a regular egg, it comes out quite soft so they can squeeze it out. But gold is obviously hard [by comparison]."

According to Newton's Third Law of Motion, every action requires an equal and opposite reaction.

"If you assume the golden egg is three kilograms [seven pounds], then the laws of physics dictate that when the goose ejects the egg it would have to move in the opposition direction to the egg but with equal force," she said.

The industrious goose would therefore shoot away from its egg with the same coniderable amount of force required to lay the egg.

"We use a steel ball bearing and a mechanical hen, and that's exactly what happens," Stocklmayer said.

(From 3 Quarks Daily) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Ghetto lit
I'm not going to comment on this....

With an extra spring in my step, I walked into the "African-American Literature" section - and what I saw there thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted me.

On shelf after shelf, in bookcase after bookcase, all that I could see was lurid book jackets displaying all forms of brown flesh, usually half-naked and in some erotic pose, often accompanied by guns and other symbols of criminal life. I felt as if I was walking into a pornography shop, except in this case the smut is being produced by and for my people, and it is called "literature."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The 200 bestselling books of 2005
Hey, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Poetry News:

Fiction News:

Award News:

Magazine News:

Interviewing:

Humour:


01/03/06:

Another year, another dollar
Well, we're back. Hope you are too. I spent much of the holidays working on a new front- and back-end for the site, along with a trusty mercenary-type to be named later, but alas, nothing to show yet. Have you ever tried to install Apache Server and all it's helper bots on your Windows XP Home machine from 2000? Don't. Anyway, it'll be a bit, so you're stuck with the old site until then. Also, to those of you hoping for another searing round of the Golden Shuriken Awards... Meh. I looked back over the last year and, while there was certainly the usual idiocy and ridiculous behaviour we've come to know and respect from the book industry, I just didn't have the vitriol in me to point it out. My bile levels are dangerously low. In all, glad to have you with us. We'll turn three this year, should we make it to the summer, and we're finally starting to act our age. So please hang around and tell your friends about us. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The meek shall inherit the earth... and by that, we mean a handful of soil...

The Guardian revamps how it calculates it's end-of-year bestseller lists, and explains why in this interesting look at the mechanics of bookselling.

In horse-racing terms, the book trade is a bizarre inverted handicap in which the runners with pedigree and form gain all the advantages, while the outsiders have extra weights heaped on their backs. This is particularly evident at Christmas - a festival, ironically, promising the eventual triumph of the meek - when the main contenders potentially rejoice in a triple boost of slashed prices, in-store promotion and multi-buy offers.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

On being a book slut
Forget working out. Forget eating right. Forget quitting smoking (okay, don't forget that). This year, it's time to refine your reading habits.

Being a book slut means feeling compelled to gulp down anything that comes your way. Great if you happen to have Proust by your bedside or Macaulay crammed into your handbag, but not so wonderful if you find yourself stuck on a bus with nothing to read. It is then that great waves of existential terror start to lap at the corners of your consciousness, turning your mouth dry and your fingers thick and tingly. There's nothing for it but to dash into the nearest newsagent and grab armfuls of distraction to carry away to a park bench and consume in a kind of frenzy of sensation until you have numbed yourself into something approaching calm.

But the problem with print addiction is that, unlike bulimia, there is no option of sicking the unwanted material back up 30 minutes later.

Um, I hope that doesn't mean you'll cut us out... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Turkey: trying to climb out of the ethical gutter
Progress is progress. Be happy to see something happening. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Blogging into the funny pages
Dave Barry, we hardly knew ye... It's so sad to see a successful writer leave print and devote all his time and effort to maintaining a blog... Wait. And on the flip side.(discuss) (Posted by George)

And for the only year-end round-up worth reading
Check out The Onion. (discuss) (Posted by George)


01/01/06:

Publishers reject Booker winners
Try us with your next novel, Mr. Naipaul.

Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaul’s In a Free State and a second novel, Holiday, by Stanley Middleton, were sent to 20 publishers and agents.

None appears to have recognised them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Library Overdrive
Now you can skip the trip to the library and just download your books from it.

Libraries throughout Greater Boston and across the nation have launched services that allow patrons to download recorded books onto their home computers and listen to them over portable media players.

The service is available through Old Colony Library Network south of Boston and the SAILS Library Network, which link libraries in Southeastern Massachusetts communities from Foxborough to New Bedford. The Boston Public Library also began offering more than 2,000 downloadable audiobooks in September. The service is seen as a great help to commuters, long-distance drivers, and readers with limited mobility.

Librarians are hot. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Happy New Year!
Or, considering the feeling of your head this morning: jsa[[u mre urst! We'll start posting again in a day or two. Best to you in 06. (discuss)


12/29/05

Favourite fonts of 2005
Typographica returns after being banished by Canadian authorities with a list of its top fonts. And it's only Part 1. Santa bless them. (From Metafilter) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Someone needs to teach Amazon some manners
Ironic it should be R. Crumb. Hey, Amazon. You're supposed to ask nicely before you go and borrow other people's property. Sheesh. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Oh oh oh oh staying alive
Artemis Fowl is to be translated into the Irish language.

“It is important for Puffin to bring contemporary books in Irish to people,” he said.

“There have been complaints from teachers that there aren’t enough contemporary children’s books as gaeilge.”

He added: “I think it is good to encourage the Irish language, it is not about money or profits, it is just about bringing Artemis Fowl to a new audience.

Sweet music. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Nafisi plans to outdo Oprah
At least intellectually. Uhm, no mean feat.

Nafisi, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University's School of International Studies in Washington, D.C., is planning an international online book club. She hopes it will be "a place for genuine debate."

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


12/28/05:


What a coincidence... 76 is my lucky number...

Well, it is now. Thanks, CBC. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sittius downius et movius nottum!
Traumatic injuries to children go down during Potter release weekends. But the respite will end soon. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The statistics of success
How did The Da Vinci Code (known in Newfoundland as "The Da Vinci Cod") become such a blockbuster when it should have been destined for the remainder bin (it only had a 36% chance of success, apparently...)? Scientists, those wacky daffy wild and crazy guys and gals, investigate. (discuss) (Posted by George)


12/27/05:

Strong opinions? Or cheap sensationalism?
Why are book reviewers getting meaner?

Newspapers and magazines may need to rethink their book coverage—including, as you say, both reviews of books with literary merit and the more commercially viable ones (two categories that do sometimes overlap). But I don't think the answer is to revert to promoting cat fights and name-calling.

Although Carlin Romano's attack on Dale Peck wildly overstated his case, Romano had a point when he took Peck to task for using such words as "crap" and "suck" in describing books. And is calling an author a "jackass" really very helpful? The coarseness and lack of nuance in the language used these days in many book reviews certainly is something to lament.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The top 15 richest fictional characters
According to the Economist. Make sure you check out the profiles. (From 3QuarksDaily) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)


12/26/05:

“Editors are noticed by what they buy, not how they edit.”
The changing roles of book editors. Are they even necessary still? I say yes, but no one ever listens to me.

Though editors have slipped to the foot of the publishing scale of prestige, most editors I know are robust in their defence of their craft. Dan Franklin, the publisher of Jonathan Cape, blames the easy gibes of reviewers: “Whenever they say ‘If only the book had been properly edited’ some poor sod has usually spent two years cutting it from 300,000 to 100,000 words.” Modern publishing just doesn’t allow for the time needed to edit a book well. The brilliant and dedicated men and women who spent their lives transforming books and caring whether they were any good, whose work could add significantly to the sales of a book and who usually did it for peanuts, have come to be regarded as superfluous.

(From the Saloon) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The literary prize economy
How will we know what's good without the ever-increasing number of prizes to tell us?

The prize system, with its own cadre of career administrators and judges, is one of the ways in which value gets “added on” to a work. Of course, we like to think that the recognition of artistic excellence is intuitive. We don’t like to think of cultural value as something that requires middlemen—people who are not artists themselves—in order to emerge. We prefer to believe that truly good literature or music or film announces itself. Which is another reason that we need prizes: so that we can insist that we don’t really need them.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Amazon Connect
There are so many new publishing technologies and trends that I can't keep track of them. For instance, I just learned about Amazon Connect, a new blogging program.

Shoppers looking to pick up Meg Wolitzer's latest novel, "The Position," on Amazon.com last week found the usual readers' comments and excerpts from reviews. They also found something unexpected - posts on the subject of literature from Ms. Wolitzer herself.
The entries were part of a new program called Amazon Connect, begun late last month to enhance the connections between authors and their fans - and to sell more books - with author blogs and extended personal profile pages on the company's online bookstore site. So far, Amazon has recruited a group of about a dozen authors, including novelists, writers of child care manuals and experts on subjects as diverse as real estate investing, science, fishing and the lyrics of the Grateful Dead.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


12/22/05:

Anna Porter interviewed
Porter is interviewed by a business news press about her authors, her writing, about Key Porter and about the book business. Finally, someone out there is optimistic. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Remember when kids could be just that?
Another child prodigy emerges. Listen parents and listen up good. Next time your kid does something clever on paper, ignore it. Just once don't say, 'Aren't you wonderful, Johnny.' Say nothing. How is it going to be for these poor children when they enter the real world? Are you going to hire someone to stand behind them and compliment every brilliant business report they whip off? Please, for the sake of the future of the world, get out of your kid's face. I beg. I plead. Make it a New Year's resolution. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Would you like some Greece on your Turkey?
Turkey has charged a publisher with insulting Turkishness. Apparently, the writer of the book, who is Greek and therefore unchargeable, suggested parts of Turkey were dirty. Who thinks up this stuff? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)



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