Back to the Suburbs
The NY Times says writers
are moving back to the suburbs. I'm not sure they ever left,
but hey, you need an angle, I guess.
"These novels and others like them may even tell us a few things
the pollsters cannot. They're also a reminder that the American
vision of suburbia has been created by novels and stories at least
as much as it has been described by them. The suburbs aren't just
a place anymore; they're a state of mind." (discuss)
What the Fuck?
I just stumbled across this Adbusters editorial drawing
attention to the Jewishness of Bush's administration -- by providing
a list of the 50 most influential necons in the U.S. and indicating
which ones are Jewish. I can kind of see the impulse here -- to
examine how U.S. foreign policy is perhaps shaped or influenced
by Israeli politics, particularly in regard to the Iraq conflict
-- but to conflate ideology and ethnicity is simply the wrong approach
and extremely dangerous.
"Here at Adbusters, we decided to tackle the issue head on
and came up with a carefully researched list of who appear to be
the 50 most influential neocons in the US (see above). Deciding
exactly who is a neocon is difficult since some neocons reject the
term while others embrace it. Some shape policy from within the
White House, while others are more peripheral, exacting influence
indirectly as journalists, academics and think tank policy wonks.
What they all share is the view that the US is a benevolent hyper
power that must protect itself by reshaping the rest of the world
into its morally superior image. And half of the them are Jewish."
The goal of the editorial was to stimulate discussion about the
it certainly has done. (discuss)
The Nerve Shame Issue Is Out
Looks like a good
collection of writers. Two of the stories are online: Neil LaBute's
Slam" and Alice Sebold's "Farmboy
"Sex is complicated enough; who can blame us for wanting to ignore
its unpleasurable kinks? Sexual shame is often debilitating, frequently
ambiguous and always subjective. It's not easy to process, much
less channel onto a page. But we think it's worthy of examination.
Like a libidinal drill sergeant, sexual reticence, embarrassment
and regret build our character, in and out of the bedroom." (From
points us to the sound poetry
available over at ubu.com. I'm
personally fond of Christian
Bok's sound poetry. He's perhaps best known for his rendition
of the "Ursonate,"
but my favourite is "Motorized
Razors." If you don't know what to make of his sound poetry
(and many don't), you can also try his poetry,
his thoughts about language
poetry or his musings
on the irrelevance of the human author (PDF link). (discuss)
Ever Wondered Where the Letter "Q" Came From?
The friendly folks at the Linguist
List have the answer.
"There is a long history behind this. The alphabet was invented
thousands of years ago by speakers of Semitic languages, and many
Semitic languages have both a sound resembling English /k/ and a
second sound pronounced further back in the mouth, not found in
English or indeed in any European language. So the Semites needed
two different letters, and those letters are the ancestors of our
K and our Q." (From Language
Ottawa's Arts Scene Is in Trouble
And National Capital Letters
is fighting back. (discuss)
Pistols at Dawn
Ryan Bigge really
doesn't like Russell Smith.
"Russell Smith discusses an anonymous dig at his upcoming novel
that was printed in the Sunday Star. If Russell were
smarter, he would not draw attention to one small paragraph announcing
his new book in the Toronto Star. But Russell is not smart,
and we know this because he does things like mention that he visits
a shrink in his columns. Also, most infamously, he cried foul on
Shinan Govani a few years ago and ended up on the cover of Frank
for his misguided efforts. What was he thinking? I'll assume he
wasn't. He keeps asking for it, that guy." (discuss)
How to Be a Writer
Lorrie Moore, one of my favourite writers, has
some thoughts on the writing life. Sound familiar, anyone?
"In your high school English class look at Mr. Killian's face. Decide
faces are important. Write a villanelle about pores. Struggle. Write
a sonnet. Count the syllables: 9, 10, 11, 13. Decide to experiment
with fiction. Here you don't have to count syllables. Write a short
story about an elderly man and woman who accidentally shoot each
other in the head, the result of an inexplicable malfunction of
a shotgun which appears mysteriously in their living room one night.
Give it to Mr. Killian as your final project. When you get it back,
he has written on it: 'Some of your images are quite nice, but you
have no sense of plot.' When you are home, in the privacy of your
own room, faintly scrawl in pencil beneath his black- inked comments:
'Plots are for dead people, pore-face.''' (From Maud)
Superman: Red Son
Somehow I missed this
comic about a commie Superman, but it
sure does look cool. (From Maud)
I don't know this artist or this comic, but this
site is an interesting breakdown of the creation process. (From
What's the World's Bestselling Book?
Amazon aims to help
you find out.
"Every month, from now on, the online book retailer will draw together
the global sales of its six websites in America, Britain, Canada,
France, Germany and Japan to offer readers of the Economist
a snapshot of the books that really sell. Anyone who assumed that
pulp thrillers sold in airports and supermarkets will always top
the list is in for a surprise with our first list." (From Literary
Last Chapter for University Presses?
University presses are increasingly
being shut down, a casualty of rising costs and university cutbacks.
On the one hand, I hate to say they should focus on trying to publish
more profitable books, as that goes against the spirit of academic
publishing. On the other hand, it's not surprising they're going
under given the subject matter of academic publishing these days.
Forget publishing profitable works -- at least publish books that
have something to do with life outside of the academic monastery.
"Across the country, 95 university presses publish 11,000 books
a year. In 2002, these scholarly works generated $444 million in
sales. Although they account for a fraction of the 150,000 titles
published in the US annually, they create what Douglas Armato, director
of the University of Minnesota Press, calls 'an impressive cultural
entity.' Even so, he says, university presses suffer from stereotypes
that they are simply 'fossilized recyclers of dissertations.'" (From
for the Death of Independent Bookstores?
of course. And the publishers. And the editors. And the writers.
And the readers. Oh yeah, and the librarians. And the teachers....
My, How Times Have Changed
Back in 1966, a group of journalists, appalled at the state
of literature, wrote
Naked Came the Stranger, a novel meant to out-crap the
crap novels. It went on to sell in the millions.
"Then, the paperback sales (and revenues) swelled even higher when
glamorous Ashe was exposed as a hoax by a couple dozen grubby newshounds.
The news media went berserk. McGrady juggled his fellow journalists
more vigorously and skillfully than the book's heroine did her numerous
boxer, doctor, gangster, and rabbi inamoratas." (From Arts
Educate... with Extreme Prejudice
Seems government censorship is in the air these days. In the
U.S. the neocons
are pissed about "un-American" comments being made by academics
regarding U.S. foreign policy, and they've decided to do something
about it. But the academics
are fighting back (haven't they seen that A&E documentary about
"There is a great deal at stake for American higher education and
academic freedom. If HR 3077 becomes law -- the Senate will review
the bill next -- it will create a board that monitors how closely
universities reflect government policy. Since the legislation assumes
that any flaw lies 'with the experts, not the policy,' the government
could be given the power to introduce politically sympathetic voices
into the academic mainstream and to reshape the boundaries of academic
inquiry. Institutional resistance would presumably be punished by
the withdrawal of funds, which would be extremely damaging to Middle
East centres especially." (From Moorish
Anne Walker talks
about urban poetics and living in America over at the Danforth.
"Through the process of writing the dissertation I realised that
creating a definition for the term "Urban Poetics" could mean articulating
its constitutive literary elements and functions. I use multiplicities,
overlaps, slippages, schisms, difrasismos, poetic interrelations,
collaborations, meccas, disjunctions, temporal dislocations, apo
koinous, and seams as defining component parts of Urban Poetics.
Exploring definitions of these terms is the organizing principle.
Living here has given me an opportunity to peripatetically absorb
and digest a lot of information that lingers in the culture." (discuss)
Name the Poets Quiz
Crouching Ninja -- the fiction bookninja -- scored nine out
of 11. Can
the poets do better? (From Rake's
To Read the Paper or Not to Read the Paper
Oh yeah, here's the Russell
Smith column that got Ryan Bigge so ticked.
"I myself have good reason to avoid newspapers these days: I am
about to publish a new novel, and the spring air is loud with the
sound of sharpening knives. The media mockery -- of someone as obviously
superficial as me attempting a task that should be reserved for
more serious people -- has already begun." (discuss)
Putting Poets in the Zoo?
And I was just about to post a Litterati
cartoon with exactly the same premise... (discuss)
That's Funny, I Hear There's Plenty of Lolita "Plagiarism"
on the Internet....
They're making a law about
it... Meanwhile, Nabokov's
family rejects claims that he pirated the story from a Nazi.
There are apparent similarities, but "Unfortunately there is
not a logical rule which would tell us when a certain number of
coincidences stop being chance." (discuss)
I Grabbed My 9 All I Heard Was Shells Falling...
While I'm not a
famous author refused entry to the US, I've been in fear of
it (um, being refused
entry...) Those pricks at the border are notoriously small-minded
power mongers - living proof that insecurity and low self-esteem
(probably from not getting jobs as real cops) can encourage people
to abuse whatever power they possess. It's funny how it always feels
as though on the way back into Canada the customs people are laid
back and friendly (generally) and into the US they're like a pack
of snarling dogs waiting for a chance to pull a gun on someone.
Here's a story from my recent trip to New York (during which I didn't
manage to hook up with Maud, much to my dismay) - At Toronto's Pearson
Airport, you go through US customs, by some arrangement, on our
own soil, presumably to speed things up on arrival (as opposed to
the establishment of a foreign paramilitary presence). The customs
people are Americans who live in Toronto, and who apparently don't
like it. I heard a woman with a southern accent commenting that
she was sick of "this shit in Toronto" (referring to the
rather peaceful flow of people through the scanners) and that all
she wanted was to get transferred to a little town in Texas so she
could "get my 9 back." For those of you unfamiliar with
gansta rap, that's a firearm. The guy she was talking to said, "Mm-hm."
I shudder to think they live among us. (discuss)
Nice Profile of Nice Guy
Queens Poet Laureate Hal Sirowitz. Um, I was just in Queens
last week and I can attest to the fact that it indeed has no "culture".
Hal's job must have sucked. It would have been like watering cement
(which the elderly Portuguese men in my old 'hood in Toronto used
to do -- something I've never fully understood.) (discuss)
Mental Note: Raise Child to Love Books, Hate Lawyers
Man strikes it rich by selling book collection. Scratch that. Lawyers
strike it rich selling man's beloved collection while he rots
below. (Whyfor you bury me in the cold, cold ground?) (discuss)
"10 Common Problems that Dismiss You as an Amateur"
"Sometimes the question of where to put a comma, how to use
a verb or why not to repeat a word can be important, even strategic.
But most of the time the author either missed that day's grammar
lesson in elementary school or is too close to the manuscript to
make corrections before I see it." Editors
of the world revolt! (From PFW)
"There is no evidence to ascertain how his death came
Um, my guess is drowning.
I don't like the sound of that word in this
context... But preserving a dying ancient Chinese language (huh?)
is at the very least a good idea. (discuss)
Happy Easter, You Little Shit
So, kids being bratty lately? Maybe it's time to get
'em a book... (discuss)
Lipograms for the Young
It's terrible to learn that even 15-year-old
kids are getting into plastic surgery these days. Tsk tsk. (discuss)
David Mamet Makes It Up
"I've got this movie I'm working on that I'm looking for some
sucker to make. It's about the dog that saved France. It's about
Joan of Arc's dog." Interview.
Match Made in Heaven Now Gone to Heaven...
"The inquest on Thursday heard that Mr Howell, 78, suffered
from a condition which caused him to hoard newspapers, magazines
and food packets and that Mrs Howell, who suffered from schizophrenia
and depression, had been telling doctors since 1976 she found his
condition upsetting. A police statement said officers found Mrs
Howell in the lounge, buried from the waist by a pile of books.
Books and magazines were stacked floor to ceiling in many rooms
and the kitchen and stairway were full of milk and ham cartons which
had been cleaned and neatly stacked." I
seriously fear this is how Ailsa and I will go. Except for the
mental illness part. Well... (discuss)
'I know it's you, Jill, I have Caller ID.'
I always knew those Chicken Soup books were for stupid people...
Soup for the Drunken Lout, look for it at a Walmart near you.
First They Came
for the Serial Killer Authors, Then They Came for Lemony Snicket
The censorship situation we reported
on earlier at the SF Academy of Art University got a little
worse when Lemony
Snicket (Daniel Handler) was denied access to a forum on the subject
and booted off campus.
"The forum, set up by Kaufman, was to have included Richman
and David Greene of the First Amendment Project. Handler says he'd
told academy Senior Vice President Sally Huntting by phone that
he wanted to discuss the subject instead of turning the dispute
nasty, and was hoping to participate. But when Handler showed up
on Tuesday morning, security guards told him he was not authorized
to attend." (From Neil
Everything you ever wanted to know about typography
but were afraid to ask. (From Language
"Americans spend four times as much buying books as they spend
going to the movies"
??? ?? ??????
??? ?? ????? ? ?? ???? ?? ? ???? ???? Oh, Wiseman Rooney, I
learn so much from you, but are you sure you aren't counting Where's
How to Write a Novel
"Telling people how to write a novel is like telling them how
to have sex: really, it's whatever works for you." Hmm....
I think there's a logic flaw in this
analogy.* (Plus, where do the paper cuts come in?) (discuss)
"On the whole, professional writers
are a lot of whining bastards who wouldn't last a day in a real
To follow up Lynn
Coady's column on the love of misery among writers I give you,
the complete anthology of pain... (discuss)
Americans Astonished: Books Matter
Apparently this years impeccably-timed crop of political
books is actually having an effect on the campaigns... Quick!
Ban something! (discuss)
Hook Makes Ninja Read Article...
I would have blown
right by this, but for the hook: "Colm Toibin had an unlikely-sounding
model for his new novel, The Master, a fictional account
of four years in the life of Henry James. It was, he says, Don DeLillo's
Libra, the haunting, edgy examination of the assassination
of John F. Kennedy." Damn hooks. I don't have time for this.
Freud Continues to Screw People Up
own decendants... To think this woman could have been something,
but instead she's just a novelist. (discuss)
hometown doesn't care it's his hometown. That hurts. I know
because, my hometown just cares about the carrot festival. Damn
Seldom Do I Say This, But I Wish This Article Were Longer
Russian satirist says humour
was better off under Soviet rule. I can see that. It was better
for us too. (discuss)
Americans in Paris
poets are becoming as eerily common as cowboy poets. What if
they all gather somewhere at night and talk to each other with telepathy
and glowing eyes? What then? Are we really prepared to deal with
an army of poets of the corn? (discuss)
I Am a Grammar God!
All right, you poets, let's see you how fare with a grammar
quiz! (From Singularity)
What's Wrong with the State of Poetry Today?
the poets, of course.
"Since the 1970s, poets have found a home and a patron in America's
college and university creative-writing programs. In what resembles
a pyramid scheme, poets teach poets to become teachers of poetry
to poets. Hence the blizzard of poetry that's been published. To
be accepted as professionals, these new poets need the credential
of a book. The pressure is intense. If books are not a step on the
ladder, then the scheme is threatened. This may be why Poetry
magazine thought to use some of its Lily millions to publish books
by new poets. Love of poets is in danger, it seems, of being undermined
by career necessities." (From Arts
his, head not. "Scientists, who dug him up in November
2003 in hopes of learning more about one of the most prolific bards
of the Italian Renaissance, discovered after DNA testing that the
skull found in his tomb most likely belongs to a woman." God,
I wish the Italians would just stick to those spontaneous swimsuit
pageants that seem to erupt all over their tv, from the newsroom
to kiddie shows... (discuss)
Tagore's Nobel Medal Stolen, Murray Can't Find His Keys
Coincidence? There's a poetry
pilfering ring here, I'd bet my brown corduroys on it. Those
Indians are wild about Tagore. Very
wild, and take the theft quite seriously. (discuss)
History's Greatest Serial Killer to Get Own Video Game
just exactly where were you on the night in question? Hmmm? (discuss)
Cheney Puts the Brakes on Republication of Her Lesbian Odyssey
kind of thing is so cold war. It's amazing what Americans will
take from their leaders. (discuss)
Ninja Author Hears of Someone Reading Her Book
One of our regular readers and contributors, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer,
recently discovered that her awesome new book of short stories (Way
Up) was a part of this Bookscrossings
For the Birds
in Miami. (From PFW)
The Pulitzer fiction award
goes to The Known World by Edward Jones. (discuss)
Blue Met Standing Room Only - for Muldoon
The Blue Met Festival in Montreal sounds
like it was a success. "The circular lobby bar of the Hyatt
Regency provided a lively social hub while author events took place
in surrounding rooms. The on-site Nicholas Hoare bookstore, too,
became a meeting place where authors like Yann Martel, Paul Auster
and Tama Janowitz not only signed books, but mingled freely with
the public. A record number of book launches (25), most of them
held in an open space behind the bookstore, added to the festive
atmosphere." Paul Muldoon was made to stand to sign books because
some Francophone writers got the chairs first. Welcome to our Belfast,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Start Your Chequebooks...
memorabilia going up for auction this week. "The collection
features remarkable pieces such as the young writer’s letter to
a publisher, W Heinemann, offering his fictional debut, Dubliners."
The Poetry of General Patton
"Pale was her face with anguish, / Wet were her eyes with tears,
/ As she gazed on the twisted corpses, / Cut off in their earliest
years. // Some were bit by the bullet, / Some were kissed by the
steel, / Some were crushed by the cannon, / But all were still,
how still!" Woof!
Contrary to popular belief in corporate media head offices,
are not all fashion-obsessed idiots who don't want to think.
"What is forgotten in these corporate maneuvers is that twenty-somethings
are more than mere social animals; our interests stretch beyond
the horizon of our next date. In cynical efforts at manufacturing
puerile pap, many newspaper editors mistakenly believe that they
are delivering what their younger readers want. These editors, however,
are confusing youth with callowness, readers with consumers, and
insightful commentary with idle chatter. Newspapers are about more
than creating 'an editorial environment for advertisers'; they can
delve far beyond the shallow depths of consumerist claptrap; and
they should offer much more to the next generation of readers than
a Peter Pan paradigm of 'youth' issues. We are not all idealists,
to be sure, but neither are we all averse to confronting the difficult
political, economic and social issues which influence our lives."
(From Press Gallery)
Big Brother Knows Where You Live
"When the 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian
magazine, receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the
cover a satellite photo of a neighborhood -- their own neighborhood.
And their house will be graphically circled." (discuss)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Thinking of writing a historical novel but don't know where
to start your research? Try the Dictionary
of Canadian Biography Online. Or ask yourself if Canada really
needs another historical novel. We already have more historical
novels than history. (From Snarkout)
Think You Can Sue Someone for Republishing Your Work
not be that easy.
"Soderstrom sued Southam Incorporated in 1997 and also wants
the law to change. If the publisher is paid every time someone accesses
one of her articles, she wants some of the profit. Six years later
her case has yet to be tried." (From Press
Giller Jury Announced
And it's a
doozy: "Two-time Giller Prize-winner M.G. Vassanji will
join authors Charlotte Gray and Alistair MacLeod on the 2004 Giller
Prize jury." (Check out the publication year of MacLeod's No
Great Mischief... Um, no Mr. Factcheckingcbcintern - that would
be the year people started to pay attention to it. Hundreds of thousands
of Irish dollars worth of attention....) (discuss)
Yes. But fire
bombing a library for children? That's also terrorism, plain
and simple! Find these people and lock them away. (discuss)
"Just as kids are supposed to sow their wild oats in
college by getting drunk, poets are supposed to court the muse through
and the bottle - somehow to blame for teenage alcoholism...
Speaking of Which: Dylan Thomas's Love Letter to Bottle
of Ballantine's Up for Auction
Scratch that, it was to
his wife... I knew it was something he loved unconditionally.
Bond - Jimmy Bond
with 13-year-old Bond to tap into the Harry Potter demographic
that everyone wants a piece of. His Clearasil container has a compass,
grappling hook and laser. I wonder if he'll be as cool with the
ladies when his arms are twice as long as his torso and his feet
look like clown shoes. (From Maud)
"No one is saying that the Harold Blooms and Dale Pecks
and other literati should be looking over their shoulders, but professional
critics are no longer the only game in town. These days, as the
Internet continues to reshape our notion of community, amateur critics
are posting reviews across the cultural spectrum -- from film to
books and more -- on discussion boards, blogs and other sites."
STRAIGHT!* "Amazon readers provide early and almost instant
signs of breakout success; writers tend to obsessively check up
on their reviews and ranking. Quirky small-press books, ones that
rarely get any media attention, have a chance on Amazon, where readers
love to hunt for and pluck out overlooked page-turners." DAMN
STRAIGHT! Of course, no one's reviewed my sorry ass on Amazon, but
still... DAMN STRAIGHT! (discuss)
You Know, I Kind of Like Slate
They really try,
don't they? (discuss)
He's Such a Gioia to Be Around...
head Dana profiled. "The danger with consensus art, though,
is blandness and mediocrity; indeed the strongest argument against
federal involvement in the arts has always been that Washington
would stifle eccentricity and risk-taking -- the mechanisms that
propel progress in the arts no less than in the marketplace. "
No T&A? TS!
Sorry guys, the Sun redesign don't
include no topless chicks. I realize I am posting this to an
audience that probably doesn't read the Sun anyway, but... wait...
you don't read the Sun, do you? It's like the New
York Post's glue-sniffing twin. Ew. (From PFW)
Hey Ma! Creationists in Cobb County All Go "Ahyuk!"
at Same Durned Time
religious hillbilly right... Don't these people have anything
more important than religion? Aren't there cousins to mate with
or something? (discuss)
Serious books on the Simpsons.
Hm, I missed the gravy train. You see, up until about the seventh
season, I would have challenged anyone to hit me with a Simpsons
trivia question. I had a shameful database of yellow-headed information
that would make a 15-year-old Dungeon Master jealous. Then the show
started to suck and I stopped watching... (discuss)
Maisonneuve's publication of Dale
Peck's last negative review (of critic Sven Birkerts) is now
available in full online. And it's a doohoohoozy (18 pages!). (discuss)
Tired of checking up on your students with Google? Check
this puppy out... "Unlike Google and other search engines
that find matches to typed-in key words, an advanced plagiarism-detection
service such as iParadigms LLC's makes a digital fingerprint of
an entire document and compares it against material on the Internet
and in other sources, including proprietary academic and media databases."
Now the problem is getting institutions (esp in the US where education
is seen more like a consumer product than a privilege) to enforce
the rules. "Last year, one publisher turned to iParadigms when
it investigated -- and subsequently affirmed -- rumors that an accomplished
textbook author had plagiarized other sources. Sworn to secrecy,
iParadigms president John Barrie said he watched in disbelief as
the publisher quietly revised later editions, leaving the author's
reputation intact." (discuss)
Update: US Govt Says Editors Free to Work Without
Being Labelled Terrorists... For Now....
Remember that bit about the US govt trying to ban editors from working
on manuscripts from certain axis-of-evil-because-we-says-you-are
countries? It's been
Zoo Press Acting Cagey?
Maud reports that the powerful
(ins with the Paris
and Kenyon Reviews) "small"
US publisher Zoo Press has
for fiction. No biggie, except that they've kept the entrants'
$25 reading fee. Ethical violation? Sounds like it. But as the
awesome Shanna Compton points out (scroll down) in her blog
the entry guidelines specifically stated that the fee was non-refundable.
Now, I've met the guys at Zoo and a good friend of mine, Ross
with them, and they didn't seem like swindlers to me, but who
does? Ross is a kind of swindler, but just in that he's a former
sex magazine editor turned movie
producer... I would encourage people to hang tough until they
issue a statement rather than forming a lynch mob. Try releasing
your anger into a saucy poem or story. Maybe just don't send it
there right away. (discuss)
Just What Independent Bookstores Need
price war between Amazon and Indigo... (If it's a choice between
the two, I personally must side with Amazon. Anyone who pays people
to perform editorial reviews of books of poetry is okay with me.
What has Crapters/Indigo done lately? The cut the poetry section
in Guelph from two full shelving units to half a shelf. The remaining
space is now business and computer books... That's class.) (discuss)
The Little Prince Fell to Earth
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's plane found. (discuss)
say the Brits: "Only about 10 per cent of the commercial
titles published each year are fiction, and fiction accounts for
only about a quarter of retail sales. We talk about fiction incessantly
- the Man Booker Prize, for example, continues to bear far more
prestige, and attract far more excitement, than its non-fiction
equivalent, the Samuel Johnson - but it is non-fiction, as a nation,
that we are actually reading." (discuss)
That's "Telltale" as Opposed to "Tattletale"
I'm not even sure what that headline means... But anyway, these
guys* are creating an online audio database of public-domain
have things changed in Montreal (and indeed Canada) since Hugh
MacLennan's day? Translation has something to do with it. "Though
a popular Literary Guild selection, Two Solitudes has suffered
a strange literary fate almost since it appeared. English and French-speaking
critics praised MacLennan's portrait of the opposing linguistic
group but dismissed his characterization of their own people as
shallow stereotypes." That's how we know he was being honest.
"The recognition of bookmaking as an art is slowly gaining
steam as more and more museums are devoting entire shows to it."
Small newspaper covers art
of books show. (discuss)
Stephen King Set to Unleash All the Powers of Hell Upon
Which is more than his
failing series is doing, I hear.... (If you go to his
site with a fast connection, you can get a virtual King to poke
repeatedly in the eye. At least, I think that's what it's for...)
Willie Shakes Tenuously Linked to Birds
"Shakespeare was clearly a better playwright and poet than
he was an ornithologist". Really? You don't say! Well I've
just lost five dollars then...! (A
primer on the history of starlings - which are so plentiful
it's said that we don't even notice them anymore.) (discuss)
Seventh Grade Kills Poets
No... seventh GRADERS kill poets.
(From GoodReports) (discuss)
Beckham a Winner!
Besides a little personal assistant nookie, Becks has also picked
British Book Award for his bio. He plans to follow said award
winning book up with another two called "Leggo My Ego: Why
a Spice Girl Just Ain't Enough" and "Paradise City: Dressin'
It Up the Axel Rose Way!". (Real books by Ali and Truss also
Families beckon. Rabbits hop. People are crucified. Angry angels
passover. So posts may be sporadic, but that doesn't mean you can't
sauce things up on the
discussion boards. We'd love to hear from you, old and new alike.
Heck, especially if you're new to the site. Drop us a line. And
don't forget to send us your caption for our Litterati contest.
Take a look at the blank panel here
and suggest a witty caption by emailing
us here. Be sure to read all the
old cartoons first to get a sense of what's what. We stop counting
entries on Saturday and will judge it Sunday. Check back Monday
to see who takes the pot of gold (Fine print: yellow M&Ms may
be substituted for actual gold.) (discuss)
Reverend Run Runs for Laureate
Run of Run DMC runs for the post of Queens poet laureate (recently
vacated by nice guy Hal Sirowitz). All I can say is he better be
ready because, yo, it's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme
that's right on time, it's tricky (tricky) tricky (tricky) trrrrrrrrrrricky.
All Trussed Up
Mistress Lynne, the Dominatrix of Grammar, rehashed
in the NYT.* "Now what? Well, Ms. Truss disputes the idea
that the written word is passing out of vogue. If anything, we do
more writing than ever, thanks to e-mail. But she regards much of
this as not writing, and not even typing — just sending. The dash
— that all-purpose way of stringing random thoughts together — sometimes
to incoherent effect — may be widely used "because it is, simply,
easy to see." If that explains its popularity now, why did
it also hold such great appeal for Emily Dickinson? Perhaps because,
in a critical observation that Ms. Truss cites, it symbolizes "the
analogical leaps and flashes of advanced cognition.""
Sven on reviewing
and Peck (see yesterday's top post). (From Maud)
Do You Suppose Mike and Chrissie Get Along?
"An account of a year spent teaching in a remote Mongolian
village will vie with a history of the Soviet Union gulag for £10,000
in a literary competition to find a book which best evokes a "spirit
of place". The unusual criterion of the inaugural Royal Society
of Literature Ondaatje Prize, founded by Christopher Ondaatje, the
philanthropist and adventurer, means the shortlist of six, unveiled
yesterday, includes a memoir, a novel, a biography and an exploration
of ideas." Philanthropist
and adventurer? I guess philanthropist doesn't mean what I think
it does... (discuss)
Bad Boys Line Up to Buy Thomas's Pub
Jagger, Morrissey, and Brosnan (who named his kid Dylan Thomas!)
up their chequebooks... Yet, "Despite Thomas's hellraising
reputation, bidders should be advised that tales of bad behaviour
at Brown's may be something of an exaggeration. Mr Watts said Thomas
drank half pints only in the bar, which lies near where he was eventually
buried. "We were quite pally like. He was a good man. You shouldn't
believe all they say about him," he said." (discuss)
for the Librarians
Bookfair - gauntlet of shame. "Perhaps there are better
ways to spend our promotional dollars. Giving it directly to publishers
for better book-cover design -- judging by the assorted pastel-
and lime-green wares on display, this is the most pressing area
of need in the industry -- would have a demonstrably more productive
effect. Or perhaps we should all just accept that we are in an industry
with about as much commercial value as bird-watching (and largely
the same market), and that talking to ourselves is really all we
can do with any skill." (discuss)
Speaking of Lost Librarians
Okay, hotshot, you've got $10,000 to spend on reference material
for your library. The choice is between hardbound encyclopedias
and internet database subscriptions. What do you do, hotshot? What
do you do? (discuss)
The Confessional Breaks the Surly Bonds of Poetry
"Whereas we once confessed to priests, then therapists, the
advent of talk shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Jerry
Springer Show means we increasingly confess to the public. With
innovations including reality television and web cameras, combined
with a general loosening of social and moral taboos, we now have
unprecedented access into other people's worlds." The
memoir as bestseller. (discuss)
The Atwood Effect
It's good to remind ourselves now and then that Peggy
is exotic to some people. (BTW, what exactly is "romantic
suspense"?) (From PFW)
Books About Writing
I always feel slightly ashamed for people who write how-to
books about writing. Then again I also feel embarrassed for
people who wear tight denim, among other things... Is it just me?
Do these things actually help any of you? (discuss)
Wee Davy Richards in Oz
boy shows Aussies what drinking is. (I think I should note that
as I write this I am listening to a blistering rendition of "I
Remember You" by Skidrow on my headphones. I don't know why,
but juxtaposed against the thought of reading David Adams Richards
it nearly makes me cry.) (discuss)
What Kind of Poet Doodles? What's Next? Cartoons?
poets draw. "A new exhibition at the State Literary Museum
in Moscow aims to show that plenty of other Russian authors had
artistic leanings. Entitled "Poeta Pingens, Or a Writer who
Draws," the exhibit presents 500 sketches, paintings and illustrations
by literary figures from Romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov to Vladimir
Sorokin, whose novels have been blasted for obscenity by the Vladimir
Putin-supporting youth movement Moving Together." (discuss)
Watch for the Inevitable Chick Flick Coming Soon to a Theatre
Five struggling women writers hang out for support and hit
it big within weeks of each other. (discuss)
The Sultan of Slam?
I sure I don't know. Interview
with Talyor Mali. (discuss)
Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness
Um, that kind of says
it all. (From Incoming Signals) (discuss)
To Intern or Not
Andrew Franklin, publisher of Profile Books, says the
publishing industry is abusing interns. However bad it is in
the publishing industry, it's worse in the media, where many publications
now rely on interns to do most of the work. This is fine if they
can't afford regular staffers, but too many papers do it just to
increase their profit margins.
"Franklin made the point almost as an aside at last month's SYP
meeting. 'I think it's despicable to try and pay anybody less than
the minimum wage,' Franklin told PN later. 'Salaries at the top
of publishing are not too bad now, and, when people are paying themselves
more than 100,000 a year, it's awful that they would try to pay
people less than 150 a week.' He also attacked the system's effect
on publishing recruitment, saying, 'it's like the debate about tuition
fees: it creates a barrier to entry, and people whose parents can't
afford to support them can't go into publishing. That's why you
have so many people in publishing with names like Rowena and Belinda.'"
(From Maud) (discuss)
Homosexual Recruiting Drive Nearly Complete!
A London, ON, homophobe group uses
an Onion article about "the homosexual agenda" to attack
the safe schools program in Canada. Apparently they don't quite
understand the notion of satire, mistaking
it for some gay strategy. It's such a confusing world out there.
"'We knew it was a gay paper and we hold that even as a joke, the
gay community is proud of their advancements into the safe schools
program in the U.S.,' she said. 'We don't think homosexuality in
schools is a joke.'
Asked whether she believed it was a real photo, Ashworth said the
caption included the teacher's name, city, state and grade.
'We researched in depth and that was one of the things we found,'
she said, noting the group spent seven weeks accumulating research."
(From Maud) (discuss)
"To see a library go up in smoke just breaks your heart."
The publishing community bands together to replace
the books lost in the recent hate-crime attack on the Hebrew
day school in Ville St. Laurent.
"Here at the Globe, children's books columnist Susan Perren
had a brain wave: why not ask Canadian publishers and distributors
to donate titles from their back lists. Deputy editor Sylvia Stead
took up the project with gusto and Books-section editors Martin
Levin, Jack Kirchoff and Alison Gzowski, along with Susan and Sylvia,
began contacting publishers on Wednesday afternoon. By late Thursday,
they had already brought on board HarperCollins, Random House Inc.
House, Raincoast, Penguin, Scholastic, Groundwood, McClelland &
Stewart's Tundra division, McArthur & Co., Oxford University Press,
Fitzhenry & Whiteside and Annick Press, who all enthusiastically
wanted to do whatever they could." (discuss)
Hockey Rhymes With ...
Well, the playoffs have begun. Time to put the rest of life on hold.
If you're reading this from somewhere outside Canada, you should
know that hockey is so deeply
ingrained in our culture that it appears everywhere, even our
Molly Peacock, incredible poet, cultural activist, and lifetime
New Yorker cum Torontonian, interviewed.
A Cry from the Dark Abyss of the Rest-of-Life-with-an-MFA
Daniel Nester, of God Save
My Queen fame, reminisces
about what made his NYU MFA such a memorable experience. "I
remember once when a student asked Galway Kinnell what we should
do when we get out of grad school -- should we apply for teaching
jobs, send poems to journals, the whole caboodle. Kinnell
paused, looked at the ceiling -- dreaming, no doubt about his garden's
Spring sprouts in his Vermont house, where he would haul ass to
the day after this last workshop -- and said to "just be a
poet" after grad school. As if the Lord himself would come
down with an NEA grant, a deal with Knopf, and placements in the
Kenyon Review. "Just be a poet" is great advice when you
come from an upper class background -- as did so many of the NYU
kids, especially the funded ones. And Kinnell's tactic is effective
if you want to stave off overbearing psycho Sharon Olds fans --
I called them Oldsians -- who flock to the program to pretty much
breath in Sharon's hair. But for me, this zen koan truly sealed
the deal that I was shit's creek without a poetic paddle."
"Last night I read Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton by
the author-provocateur Stewart Home. It is the latest in his long
line of novels, all of which I have read, none of which I have understood.
There is always a lot of sex and violence in these books. I don't
know why. It bores me. There are always a lot of literary references
that I don't get; they all seem to be pro the proletariat and anti
the bourgeoisie. So although I have no idea what they are about
and at times think they are complete rubbish, I keep reading them.
In fact, I love them." Stewart
wm. shxpErs' 12th
N2 txt lingo. mayB nw D kiddies wl read it. (From Collision
A Time to Purge?
"A pared-down shelf can clear the mind as well as a room, giving
a person a better sense of what's there and why." What do your
books say about you? (Mine say, we are so so tired of the anarchy.)
"Terrible" Writer Gets Movie Deal
Water flows downhill, 9 comes after 10, cells divide and DNA is
passed on, a guy named Theodore is called Ted, Saturday and Sunday
continue to comprise "weekend," uneducated people continue
to vote Bush, fluorescent lights hum incessantly, and life
as we know it continues... (discuss)
Sydney Writers' Fest Announces Line Up
And it's mostly little folk - like Naipaul.
After a Hard Day Winning a Pulitzer...
... Anne Applebaum settles
down to ponder the meaning of it all. "The great American
cultural blender once produced whole art forms, such as Broadway
musicals and jazz, that might well be described as a blend of the
two. Nowadays, that gap is so wide I'm not sure the old descriptions
of the various forms of "culture'' -- highbrow, middlebrow,
popular -- even make sense anymore. Does Edward P. Jones, whose
eloquent novel "The Known World"' won a Pulitzer Prize
last week, even inhabit the same universe as MTV? Does anybody who
reads one watch the other?" (discuss)
The Dangers of Media Consolidation
one will trust what anyone else has to say ever again. (Personally,
I can't care because it's all politics now - I, for instance, am
writing this on a cheque from the RNC where I work as character
assassin on liberal media bias....) (discuss)
"The light. And the darkness."
"Franz Wright, who last week won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry,
seems to have inherited both from his father, the late James Wright,
also a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. They are the only father and
son ever to win the Pulitzer for poetry." I can think of several
of great writers who haven't been so lucky, so this is nice
to see... (discuss)
book dilemma solved. (discuss)
The Original Poet-Spy
Of course, now there are many, mostly working in our vast network
intelligence gathering ninjas. (discuss)
The Life of a Sex
It's not all cunniligus and blowjobs. Well, actually it is,
that doesn't mean they enjoy it.
"The trouble with writing on a topic that frequently requires a
'try it, you might like it!' approach is that there are some things
people just expect you to dig. Cunnilingus, for one. Being a sex
writer who doesn't go ga-ga for oral pleasure is apparently more
controversial than being a movie critic who dismisses Fellini as
a hack. Invariably, the guy in question thinks you're just making
excuses to avoid hurting his feelings about his poor technical skills.
You feel an occupational responsibility to reassure him." (discuss)
Tired of Typos in Online Books?
Why not join Distributed
Proofreaders and do your part for Project
Gutenberg? (From BoingBoing)
To Live Among Books
Alberto Manguel moves
to France because Toronto just isn't big enough for him and
"Manguel's real country, it would appear, is his library. He doesn't
own a car, and spends little money on furniture and clothes. 'The
only thing I buy is books.' He now owns 30,000 of them, and there
was never any hope of fitting them inside his tiny Toronto house.
Nor was moving an option. With house prices rocketing out of sight,
he realized that on a writer's thin revenues, he would never have
such a place in the country's largest city." (discuss)
"I am Mickey Mouse and I am the American Dream!! It's
simple . . . I got mine . . . Fuck you!"
the Mouse and The
Boulevard of Broken Dreams grappled with the dark side of
Disney, the Air Pirates tried
to save the legacy of Mickey Mouse.
"In 1971, O'Neill gathered a cadre of underground cartoonists to
launch Mickey Mouse Meets the Air Pirates Funnies, featuring
most of Disney's stable in flagrante delicto (when they weren't
busy smuggling dope). The Pirates had grown up loving Disney's artistry,
but came to despise his corporation's watered-down folklore. Ted
Richards, one of these renegade Mouseketeers, resented Disney's
'corporate seizure of the American narrative' and believed the Pirates
were 'helping the people regain access to their own stories.'" (discuss)
What, You Didn't Believe Me Yesterday About the Hockey?
Then take a look at this
commercial (you need Quicktime)
for what is likely Canada's most literate publication: Geist.
(Thanks to Melissa for the link, eh?) (discuss)
"She has acted this way - that is, precisely as she feels -
all her professional life: exacting to the point of pedantic, sardonic
to the point of humourless, her deadpan delivery lifted by the occasional
massive grin that lights up her face and abruptly leaves it, like
a streaker crossing a pitch."
nekked smile. (discuss)
Canadian Nerds Rockin' Robs
and Wilson up for Hugos.
"The Bill of Rights can be read as a classic expression
of the teenage spirit: a powerful imagination reacting to a history
of overwhelming institutional repression, hypocrisy, chicanery and
Michael Chabon writes that kids who write
violence* are being harassed in the US. "the threat posed
by these prosecutions to civil liberties, to the First Amendment
rights of our young people, is grave enough. But as a writer, a
parent and a former teenager, I see the workings of something more
iniquitous: not merely the denial of teenagers' rights in the name
of their own protection, but the denial of their humanity in the
name of preserving their innocence." (discuss)
Yeah, I'm Gonna Finish Me a Little Something in Ottava Rima
winger for Charlotte Brontë. " Brontë introduces
the major characters, including the sullen, solitary Matilda (who
later finds she is named Emma); the intelligent, sympathetic widow
who narrates the book, Isabel Chalfont; the single gentleman who
helps to unravel the mystery of Emma's background, William Ellin;
and the three slightly buffoonish sisters who run the school. Boylan
thinks the sisters might be Brontë's inside-joke version of
herself and her sisters Emily - of "Wuthering Heights"
fame - and Anne, who tried to start a school once but couldn't get
pupils." (Maybe she just needed glasses?) (discuss)
Profiling the Little Guy
This underground author deserves more attention, so it's nice to
see him getting profiled
in the Guardian. Oh, yeah - by underground, I meant... (discuss)
Blue Metropolis Diary
The Montreal Gazette's Pat Donnelly offers a
synopsis of Montreal's Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival.
"Every time I stepped into one event, I missed another. An admitted
festival junkie, I was constantly haunted by the finality of my
choices. Once it was over, I mourned lost interview opportunities
(the witty, urbane Pico Iyer for one), as well as bypassed events,
like a Haitian poetry reading, that one-man play about Gerald Godin,
Harry Mayerovitch's 97th birthday party and Malachi O'Doherty talking
to T.F. Rigelhof about their respective Catholic-boyhood memoirs."
for Writers) (discuss)
Punk'd by Stu
More details on Jesse
Brown's Stu magazine hoax.
"Although everyone laughed off the hoax, the fact remains that if
Masthead or Eckler had taken five minutes, they could have
figured out what 'greyherring' did -- that Neihardt was actually
Brown, the same person who had recently pranked As It Happens
with a campaign to stop Chapters and Indigo from following through
on a decision to remove the sofas from all its stores. Brown posed
as activist Henry Chinaski, from the fictitious organization 'Save
Our Sofas,' and protested at Chapters in Montreal with placards
that read 'stand up for sitting down.' Brown got a lot of media
attention before it was revealed that the campaign was a prank."
(From Press Gallery)
is sort of an anti-Adbusters, looking at corporations that
do good. I'm not sure I believe their mission statement, but I admire
their optimism. If the whole thing isn't a hoax, that is.
"We believe that bad companies will be eclipsed by Corporate Knights,
corporations that make money for their shareholders, enhance their
national and local communities of operation, leave as small a footprint
as possible on the environment, treat employees well, and keep customers
happy. We believe the age of the zero-sum game between business
and society is over because business and society permeate each other
like never before, making it impossible for either to succeed or
fail without the other." (From eye)
"I reserve the right
to be a nigger."
Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular and contentious comic
strip The Boondocks,
give a damn whether or not you like him.
"As a talented young black man who is outspoken in his political
convictions, McGruder has grown accustomed to inordinately high
expectations. The Green Party called him last year, asking if he
might like to run for President. He had to point out that he wasn't
old enough. 'I want to do stuff that has a moral center--stuff that
I can be proud of,' he continued. 'But I'm not trying to be that
guy, the political voice of young black America, because
then you have to sort of be a responsible grownup, for lack of a
better word.'" (discuss)
Black to the Future
"Black to the Future
is a groundbreaking 3-day multidisciplinary festival featuring some
of the nation's most accomplished science fiction novelists and
essayists including Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes,
and Walter Mosley. This festival, the first of its kind, will explore
science fiction in not only literature, but also in film, music,
and other forms of creative expression." (From SciFiWeekly)
Where, O Where is Alberto Manguel? Where, O Where Can He Be?
"There will always be readers. But I am pessimistic that they
will find the books they want, because the merchants of books are
now convinced that the public is stupid. The intellectual act has
no prestige now. It lacks social charm." Please
come home, Alby. (discuss)
"When people go out in the world, Canada cuts them
off unless they're comedians or Leonard Cohen or something. What
the f--k is that?"
dat, bruh. Seriously, what happened with Montreal alumnist Vice
is what I hope happens with Maisonneuve.
Especially the house in Costa Rica part... I just can't see us getting
around to the anal sex issue. (From PFW)
This post is for Lynn Coady. We love
our misery,* Lynne, because it's so damn funny. (Do you find
it odd that the Times' picture caption credits the editor as the
"Every age needs classics translated into the idiom
of the moment. It gives the works new vitality, new meaning. It
offers to the living a connection with those who went before, the
accumulated wisdom of the past, a protection from a dangerous provincialism."
"There are many readers who hunger for substance... I do not
despair. I know they are out there, and I hear from them often."
The Aenied. I'll buy this one. (discuss)
Where are precious
Islamic texts crumbing to dust, Alex? (discuss)
Californians Smart, Dude
of The New Yorker are higher in Cali* than in NY. What could
this mean? "New York, Remnick said, is probably no longer the
center of the universe as depicted in the 1976 Saul Steinberg New
Yorker cover cartoon "View of the World From 9th Avenue"
— Manhattan buildings in the foreground and the rest of the country
represented by a flat patch of land, the Pacific Ocean in the distance."
Try telling that to someone actually living in New York... (discuss)
"The British Library has acquired an archive of 450 items relating
to Ted Hughes's creative relationship with American artist Leonard
Baskin." Why should we care? Because, as Hughes said, Baskin
was the old crow behind Crow. "Crow grew out of an invitation
by Leonard Baskin to make a book with him simply about crows. He
wanted an occasion to add more crows to all the crows that flock
through his sculpture, drawings, and engravings in their various
Pushkin just can't get a break. "As one of the founders of
the Pushkin Fund, Kenneth Pushkin created the Pushkin Heritage seven
years ago as a non-commercial organization dedicated to promoting
the poet around the world." Okay, so far so good. "Apart
from being the owner of the Pushkin Gallery, specializing in Russian
art in Santa Fe, Kenneth Pushkin is something of a poet himself
— as a singer and songwriter, with an album due to be released this
year called Mr. Pushkin. "It will be some blues, jazz,
and pop," he said, "but the content of the poetry will
be the most important."" Survey
says? Maaah! (discuss)
Rowr! The Drop
Dead Poets Society...
I gotta tell you, I
can both see this and not see it. Canada's pretty buddy-buddy
compared to the US, but things have been known to ... simmer. Recently
someone came up to me at a reading and deftly wiped the lapel of
my jacket saying, "George, you've got some crap on your jacket."
When I looked down I saw one of several little white paw prints
my 14-month-old boy had left on me before I managed to get out the
door. I said, "Oh, it's from the baby." They said, "Puke?"
I set my jaw and said, "Cream cheese." Thinking back on
it later, I found myself unsure whether it was an innocent jab at
my expense or the kind of social knee-capping that hip poets do
to formerly hip poets, now hipsore parents. I think the former,
but still... why was I thinking it at all? (discuss)
The Believer Guilty of (FLOAIW) Snark?
"The December ‘03/January ‘04 issue of the widely
read The Believer magazine
carried a long article on the Araki Yasusada controversy by the
prominent Village Voice
film critic Michael Atkinson. The article, which culminates in the
claim that Yasusada “hacks” with “misanthropic disdain” at “the
core of what’s sacred in human endeavor,” is not exactly affable
or gracious in tone. In fact, one could regard Atkinson’s piece
as the essayed version of American
Poetry Review editor Arthur Vogelsang’s now classic remark on
the same subject: “This is a criminal act.” In the weeks following
the essay’s appearance, more than thirty letters, nearly all of
them vigorously critical of Atkinson’s argument and ad hominem tone,
were mailed to the magazine, a volume of commentary far exceeding
(according to the magazine itself) anything in the publication’s
history. The editors of The Believer, perhaps for perfectly understandable
reasons given the quantity of response, but contrary to earlier
indications that the replies would at least be made available on
spacious web site, decided to only publish two of the letters
in their March issue (one by me and another by Eliot Weinberger),
followed by a partly confused, partly disingenuous riposte from
Atkinson—a reply, incidentally, that managed to further confirm
his lack of acquaintance with the background particulars of the
debate and its attendant poetical and philosophical issues. In any
case, copies of most of the reactions had been kindly mailed to
me by their authors, and these
now appear here thanks to the thoughtfulness of Typo Magazine."
(Thanks to Matt for the tip.) (discuss)
cities have certain advantages but at one point the hassles start
to wear you down and the appeal fades. Factor in the cost of living,
the traffic and the general stress of big cities and Saskatoon is
really attractive. You don't have to live with those pressures here."
A wise man once said: "Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
/ Wheat kings have all their treasures buried..." And apparently
Martel was listening. (Thanks, Twinks) (discuss)
To Bid or Not to Bid...
Hamlet may fetch $2M US. Not bad for a slacker punk who can't
make up his frickin mind. (From PFW)
Dagnabit, Ma! Get Yer Bible and Yer Gun! It's that Feller
Al Kayda's On the Telphone Agin!
Do you notice a pattern in the kinds
of people who regularly get duped into mistaking satirical works
from The Onion for real news
stories (um, except for the whole China thing...)? I'd like to say
it stops at the border, but as we've
recently learned, it does not... (discuss)
Me Thinks Me Too Ur-Stupid or Ur-Tired to Ur-Follow, er,
alleged plagiarism had something to do with an X-Files episode
or something. "Perhaps we should call the 18-page story the
Ur-Lolita in light of the way the problematic lost "original"
Hamlet—the play produced onstage as early as 10 years before the
familiar Shakespeare version—is called "the Ur-Hamlet."
Many believe the Ur-Hamlet was written by Thomas Kyd or someone
other than Shakespeare; some contend that it may have been Shakespeare’s
first draft. It’s become a contentious issue in the debate over
the nature of Shakespeare’s creative process. Perhaps a similar
contention will develop over the Ur-Lolita." (discuss)
"Clinging to Sobriety and Sanity"
crazy alcoholic poet son of a crazy alcoholic poet.* This is
the power of celebrity dad. He teaches people. (I remember reading
somewhere that Wright Sr. dies of cancer of the tongue, but it never
hit me until I read this...) (discuss)
In Not-Bookish-but-Related News...
"the bedrock of social existence". (discuss)
Space Constraints in Your Bachelor Apartment?
Just get your books from these
Suuuure She's Read Them...
Celebs pick their favourite
books for National Library Week - the Sleepiest Week Ever!®
"People are prepared to pay to do these courses, which means
the English and arts departments are keen to set them up. The universities
see them as useful cash cows." Ladies and gentlemen: the
Creative Writing degree. (discuss)
Germans are Just So Humourless...
Aren't they, Pete? Especially when someone writes a book called
End of the Chancellor - The Last Shot and puts a face on
the cover that looks suspiciously like the current, highly unpopular
Neither a Bidder Nor a Buyer Be...
Hamlet just doesn't
command the millions it used to. In this case it might be because
the former owner drew several hearts and sad unicorns in the frontispiece.
Since when is a
grant to get fucked up and write about the experience a new
thing? I thought that's what all grants were for... (discuss)
Murdoch Collection Lands in Kingston
No, not Dougie's hometown - the
UK university. (discuss)
It Just Won't Be the Same For Me if I can't
Hear the Speech Impediment
Walters signs $5M book deal. (discuss)
Coetzee Officially an Aussie?
After three years of living in Oz, Coetzee has horned
in on their most prestigious prize... (discuss)
"Part of the reason I'm so upset about this is that
by using the same words and phrases repeatedly to describe experiences
in life, people think and feel in a certain way. [Life] becomes
Dimwit's Dictionary is a tool of the trade with regard to those
who's language skills are, at the end of the day, a
work in progress. (discuss)
Nominees for the Gerald
Lampert and Pat Lowther Awards are out. Beleaguered awards or
not, the lists for these awards are actually good. Nightwood
Editions should be ecstatic, with Chris Banks (who has been
known to haunt the Ninja boards) and Adam Getty both nominated for
the Lampert, as should Signal
with Ninja fav Mary Dalton's Merrybegot
nominated against Di Brandt's powerhouse Now You Care for
the Lowther. Di Brandt's cup runneth over. Should be an exciting
year, if you go in for this sort of thing. (From PFW)
Library puts 12,000 sound
items on web. I like the British attitude towards this kind
of material. I heard earlier that the BBC is working to put ALL
of its archives online FOR FREE. You can bet no American network
would do that. You have to pay to watch today's CNN video, much
less archival footage. I wonder if the CBC will ever get around
to it. There'd be some great treasures in there. (discuss)
To Seek Out New Life and New Civilizations... with New Nose
and Brow Ridges...
Bradbury gets to address a White House space panel. Sources
say Wubblewoo insisted panel members wear twin foil balls on springs
as headgear. (discuss)
"How does a poet address a tyrant?"
guess is: "Sir". "In 1998, breaking the silence
of decades, she published an uncomfortably frank description of
her earlier life and friendship with Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova,
two of Russia's greatest 20th-century poets. The tone and contents
of Gerstein's collected memoirs were so unlike other accounts that
there was a public furore... Less than a decade after censorship
had disappeared, such plain speaking was still not the norm, especially
when discussing victims of the Soviet regime who had become revered
literary-political icons of the post-Communist era." (discuss)
Bad Writers Across Planet Ejaculate Simultaneously
Coppola may need a new writer to adapt
Kerouac's On the Road now that he seems to have put
the kibosh on Russell Banks' script. ""I turned in a script,
and Francis liked it very much," he said. "Then I heard
he wasn’t going to do it. It was off and on. I'll be surprised,
though of course greatly pleased, if he ever makes it.""
"Some people are arguing! Isn't that brilliant?"
Sandra Hochman's mothballed
1974 film about the womens' movement. (discuss)
Slate About to Get Scads of Angry Email from People Who
And George Wubblewoo
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Hibiscus author interviewed at Moorish
Beckett for Babies...
Stephany Aulenback, who works Fridays for Maud
Newton (I tell you, that woman keeps bankers' hours), has come
up with a killer
board book idea... (discuss)
Save the Libraries,
Nuke the Whales
No, that's not it. Save
shoot the seals. Yeah, that's it.
"What would America be without its public libraries? We may get
a chance to find out because libraries are facing unprecedented
economic challenges. Budget cuts have weakened or closed libraries
in more than 40 states in the past year." (From Moorish
Nice Idea, But Not in Canada
Ken Alexander speaks
out on the history of the Walrus.
"A number of years ago I was doing a current-affairs TV show for
the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I was talking to Dalton
Camp, who's a columnist here. Our conversation turned toward investigative
journalism, and I asked him why it was that, in terms of investigative
journalism, print in Canada seems to be lagging behind both television
and radio. And so we started rattling off names of people who can
do print investigative stuff, and I started talking to different
writers as a result. But I was getting a lot of, 'Sure, if you can
do it.' The difficulty seemed to be--from the perspective of many
in the industry--'Nice idea, but not in Canada,' for various reasons.
The population is strung out across a long border, the market is
taken up by American periodicals. But we persevered and put together
a really great team, and there we are." (From Press
How Do You Fight Bigotry and Book Vandalism?
By cutting and marking the Queer books up even more. A vandal ran
amok in the San Francisco public library system defacing books on
Gay and Lesbian subjects. After said asswipe was caught, the library
countered by handing the books over to artists to be remade
into moving works of art. Nice. That kind of thinking is practically
Ah, Serfs - What Would a Burning English Manorhouse Do Without
Burn. Along with its valuable
book collection. Chivalry isn't dead. Correction: the British
of feudal duty isn't dead. (discuss)
"I think there is at least a short story in everyone,
I’m not sure there is a book in everyone though."
So, you think you can write, eh? Well, could you finish an Ian Rankin
thinks you can. "I agreed to do it because I don’t think
there are enough outlets for short stories. When I got started it
was in short stories. I’m doing this to try and get more people
interested in the genre." (You gotta love British "reality
tv" - no hot tubs! Wait, let me rephrase that... you gotta
hate British "reality tv"....) (discuss)
Manchester, Manchester ... Um ... Ain't Nobody ... Bester...
Andrew Motion to judge poetry
contest designed to capture the spirit of Manchester. Once captured
it will be chloroformed and pinned in a cheap display case. (discuss)
Newsflash: Academic Builds Career on Piece of Minutia
liked writing in bed. A rather tepid predilection, should you
research the man's life... (He was also fond of having his wife
fart in his face. Nice, eh?) (discuss)
Koolhass Builds "Cool House"... for, um... Books.
Cool House for Books, Yeah (This One Got Away from Me, Folks...)
More on the funky
new Seattle Library (hey, SOMETHING's gotta be funky in Seattle.)
Hong Kong Literature Festival
You have to ask yourself how tired the editor who wrote this
headline was... Um, really? I would have thought it was mostly
We Think This Could Be Stupid
first person plural narrator(s).* "The communal inclinations
of women, though often praised, are riddled with ambivalence, and
that makes the first-person plural a particularly fraught choice
for women writers." (discuss)
"Heaney is to poetry what Bono is to rock."
And we all know
the heart of rock and roll is in Cleveland. (Does this make
Paul Muldoon The Edge?) (discuss)
"And at her grave in the West Cemetery on Triangle
Street, they toast her life and art with elderberry wine and recite
their favorite poems."
Dickinson enthusiasts flock to her old house. I would guess
it's like the scene Jim Morrison's grave, but with embraced cronehood
and support hose. (discuss)
Age vs. Beauty?
The Globe wonders whether the next poet laureate should
"Not everyone thinks having a veteran as the officially endorsed
face of Canadian poetry is the best idea, however.
'It shouldn't necessarily be a senior statesman, but someone who
will mix it up a bit,' says Scott Griffin, the founder of the Griffin
Poetry Prize, whose yearly doling out of $40,000 each to a Canadian
and an international poet makes his one of the world's most lucrative
awards for poetry.
'What would be interesting would be to take a very young, new poet,
a new name that people hadn't really known a lot about, but who
is a good poet,' Griffin said. 'For instance, somebody like Karen
History of the Crossword Puzzle
At last, you
know who to blame!
"Arthur Wynne had the job of devising the weekly puzzle page for
Fun, the eight-page comic section of the New York World.
When he devised what he called a Word-cross for the Christmas 1913
edition, published on 21 December, he could have no idea that he
would be starting a worldwide craze. The puzzle page had previously
featured plenty of word squares, rebuses, hidden words, anagrams
and connect-the-dots drawings. For this edition Wynne decided he
would have something new. He sketched out a diamond-shaped grid,
wrote FUN, the name of the comic section, across the top squares,
and started filling in the rest of the grid. He numbered the squares
at the start and end of each word, and wrote definition clues for
the words he had filled in. The puzzle was printed with the instruction
to the solver: 'Fill in the small squares with words which agree
with the following definitions.' Thus was the crossword born."
And here's the
very first one. And the Zen
Crossword. (From Language
"The marriage is Rushdie's fourth and Lakshmi's first."
No crap. He's had time for four, she hasn't. What kind of a world
do we live in where a
writer as ugly as Rushdie can nab himself a beautiful starlet
like her? A good one. Man, I could sure use a fatwa. (discuss)
"This isn't a hostile takeover -- I'm still around."
that exit music ? Is it "Eye of the Tiger" or "Taps"?
Gibson interviewed in Macleans. (From PFW)
Getting Your Thoughts Down
Joseph Epstein on what it takes to be a writer, biologically.
"I taught would-be novelists, poets, and essayists for three
decades at Northwestern University. Many of them demonstrated much
greater ability than I at their age, yet nothing much has happened
to the vast majority of them. Or, rather, the world happened to
them, intervening in their grand plans to become serious writers
by placing genuine obstacles in their way or by holding out other
prospects and possibilities: marriage and family, honorable and
better-paying work, the temptations of journalism. However high
the degree of their talent, the desire, I have to assume, was not
sufficiently intense in them to do what was required. As for whence
the desire itself derives, that is yet another mystery." (From
Nebula Award Winners Announced
And what a
lovely looking group they are. (discuss)
Keeping Up with the Hawkings
"I never thought I would be as great as my father. I would
like to continue writing novels and hopefully at some point I would
like to make the switch from being 'Stephen Hawking's daughter'
to 'novelist Lucy Hawking' and that will be a fabulous day."
It has to have sucked to be Stephen Hawking's kid, for a number
of reasons (not the least of which is that he could actually answer
your cosmologically mind-bending questions instead of standing under
the stars with his hands in his pockets waffling in that charming
sort of dad/dufus way.) But on top of everything, he's
passed her a writing gene. (discuss)
Who Can We Blame for the Bottom Line Approach to Publishing
Reports, apparently. (discuss)
"The ghost in the machine is troublesome to exorcise.
How can we have understanding without an understander inside us?"
A life in philosophy as lived by Daniel
Malkovich Hitches a Ride
Malkovich has been cast in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
as cult leader Humma Kavula -- a character Adams created specifically
for the screenplay. (Funny how the BBC can spend an entire article
talking about this odd bit of casting and not mention that Ford
Prefect is being
played by a black rapper.) (discuss)
Sheikhs Are OK
and Boon. When I was working at Harlequin, I occasionally had
to proofread Mills and Boon romances. I still remember my first
one. The heroine was enjoying a night in with a cup of tea when
a strange man broke into her house, tied her up, made himself dinner,
then did the dishes. That last bit made her fall in love with him,
because he was a domesticated man.... (discuss)
Al Purdy -- the Play!
This July, the Regent Theatre in Picton presents Al
Purdy at the Quinte Hotel. (From Paul)
Queens Seeks Court Jester
Now that yo delay Run wants the job, everyone wants it and its news.
article examines Queens' long "lyrical" history. "If
there can be said to be a spiritual birthplace for the form of Whitmanian
expressionism known as punk rock, it is in Queens, where the sainted
Ramones were formed. They wrote of the natural wonders of the borough
in "Rockaway Beach," whose unforgettable refrain goes:
"Rock-Rock-Rockaway Beach." I mean, roll over, Robert
Frost, and tell Emily Dickinson the news." (discuss)
I Gotta Get In On This Kids' Book Thing...
vicar-turned-novelist is now a millionaire because he wrote
Shadowmancer - a Christian/Harry Potter combo that's selling
like lube at a viagara convention. I am currently working on my
fantasy-based book for kids. I call it, Gimmick the Nerdy Kid
Gains Magic Powers and Saves the World from Evil Guy with Menacing
This is the Reason Some People In Law Enforcement Get Called
Wally Lamb, Oprah's pet boy, teaches creative writing to female
inmates. When one
of his students won a prestigious literary prize prison officials
erased all work pertaining to the class -- up to five years of work
for some of the women. Um, excuse me, dickwads, but don't they already
live behind bars? Isn't that punishment enough for your mean spirited
power monger asses? (discuss)
Finally an Antiques Roadshow We Can Enjoy as Much as the
Prancing Handwringing Expert Who Gets a Boner from Looking at Japanese
Cloisonné Belt Buckles
Oh, this is delightful! I'm so glad you brought
this in today! What a TREAT! Now take your old book bloodmoney
and get yourself some proper insurance, for godsake, you greedy
"An absence of sentimentality is a great thing in a
writer, and separates the merely good from those who have something
"For to say that all people are equal is not to say they are
the same; and to confound the political with the practical gave
us the enormity of feminist literary theory." David Mamet's
play Oleanna, about a student who claims she was raped
by her professor but may be lying, drove people berserk when it
came out. Now
Mamet reflects on the role of (and roles for) women in literature,
film and theatre. When first shown in dress rehearsal to a group
of undergrads, Mamet was asked if his portrayal of Oleanna was "politically
questionable", of which he now writes, "I, in my ignorance,
was stunned. I didn't realise it was my job to be politically acceptable.
I'd always thought society employed me to be dramatic; further,
I wondered what force had so perverted the young that they would
think that increasing political enfranchisement of a group rendered
a member of that group incapable of error - in effect, rendered
her other-than-human." (Thanks to JD for the link) (discuss)
"Color, though, is not just a black thing, she says.
It is not even an American thing, with versions of lighter-is-better
in India, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Ms. Golden considers this
global obsession a legacy of colonialism."
Golden in the NYT.* (discuss)
Richard Ford to Receive Evil Companions Literary Award
Next year he's up for the Prince
of Darkness Spitting Tribute. (discuss)
Hmm... This Da Vinci Code Thing is Selling Great... I Wonder
How I Can Get in On It....
Maybe I can write a companion to the book that will help all the
idiots who bought the original reap something more than a pass on
a watercooler content quiz. Aw
"Though noh is very different from Western notions of what
is 'dramatic,' the emotional and spiritual drama of a noh play touches
an audience on a deep level, as poetry does."
Daphne Marlett is trying
to write an English-language noh play based on her long poem
"Steveston." Will she succeed? I don't... noh. (discuss)
When You Take Away the "Magic", Don't You Just
End Up with... "Realism"?
I already deal with realism every day. I
want unicorns. "It's not that he doesn't care about the
levitating grandmothers, clouds of butterflies, or velvet curtains
of prose that mark the work of Latin American writers from Gabriel
García Márquez to Isabel Allende. Rather, having grown
up in the shadow of the region's popular literary tradition, the
Bolivian novelist, along with other Central and South American writers
of his generation, is hoping to forge a new cultural identity."
Clear Cut Books
Cut's mandate, to publish the best writing, regardless of genre,
from Pacific North America (San Francisco to Vancouver, roughly)
and then to distribute it via an old-school subscription system,
is a welcome raspberry to an increasingly centralized publishing
Um, Sorry There Partner
and a shoulder chuck for McEwan. "After a 24-hour flurry
of activity, border officials realised there was no rule limiting
the size of honoraria. McEwan was admitted the next afternoon."
What did I say back then? A prick at the border. I KNEW IT! (discuss)
Doonsbury Character to Lose Leg in Iraq
Political cartoon gets
more political. (From Maud)
I love the Web.
"Typographica is a journal of
typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on
fonts and typographic design." (From Language
Reason Must Prevail
Sure, you could spend your evenings watching reruns of Friends.
Or you could listen
to the BBC's audio adaptation of Zamyatin's We. D-503
is way wackier than Chandler anyway. (From S1ngularity)
"I've dubbed this the 'Sylvia Plath Effect.'"
die earlier than other writers. "It could be because poets
are tortured and prone to self-destruction, or it could be that
poets become famous young, so their early deaths are noticed."
Worse still, it could be that poets don't become famous ever and
still die young. Between this and these
lesbian mice, I'm not feeling particularly secure... (discuss)
"I have noticed a lot of similarities between the military
world and the literary world. Both are highly specialized and highly
professionalized. And when that happens, you tend not to see a lot
of things outside of your immediate world."
Dana Gioia and the NEA launch Operation Blood-from-a-stone - um,
scratch that, it was Operation
Homecoming* - to give returning troops a shot at a literary
life. Sad though it may be, I think I agree with Mailer. (Operation
Blood-from -Dumb-as-a-Rock?) (discuss)
"Riel has become
a critical and commercial hit."
Wha? Time magazine interviews
Chester Brown, creator of the Louis Riel graphic novel. I'm
waiting for the action figures myself.
"That's another way that I relate to Riel. I consider myself
a religious person and so I think that his visions were in some
sense true. I don't know that he interpreted them correctly but
I think he had real experiences and I don't therefore think that
he was crazy or insane in the way that most people would understand
those terms." (discuss)
Ferguson Takes Leacock Medal (Spikes It, Does Flappy Knee
Dance While Holding One Finger in Air)
ninja fav Michel Basilières and outgoing poet laureate
Bowering. (From PFW)
Coupland Oughtta Be On the Stage
next one outta town! ... Can I get a rimshot please? (discuss)
Required Reading for Science Nerds
As opposed to science...
people. "In a 1968 book review of The Double Helix,
anthologised in Pluto’s Republic, the distinguished biologist Sir
Peter Medawar wrote that if a young man as talented as Jim Watson
had been born British, especially in the Cambridge of his and Crick’s
time, he would have been steered towards literary studies..."
"Notes get in the way of poetry. Students feel comforted by
them, but for an imaginatively satisfying reread of Keats, you would
prefer not to have your eye directed to the bottom of the page by
some well-intentioned reminder of why Bacchus had pards." From
there it's mostly
about Browning... (discuss)
Two Books, One Brisbane...
big headache. Just what we need, this reading-coformity-better-than-no-reading-at-all
idea to get out of hand. (discuss)
Mazo de la Roche and Dorothy Livesay
"It is rare these days to see a
radical poet and political thinker come to the aid of a High Tory,
but Dorothy Livesay did this for Mazo de la Roche. Canada has such
a civic and civil tradition, and, in many ways, Livesay and de la
Roche embody such an sane and civilized way in our era and ethos
of political correctness and culture wars. May we learn something
from such grace and graciousness." (discuss)
Ever Wonder What the M in 3M Stands For? Or How Amazon Got
The good souls at wikipedia have the answers
to these questions, and many more when it comes to company names.
(From Language Hat) (discuss)
Desperate to Escape
Your Weird Survivalistish Family?
fantasy book. (discuss)
You really just have to check
this out. (From Clive)
THAT's What's Wrong with My Journal Subscriptions....
None of them could be mistaken
for explosives. (From Moorish
"The Far Left Toronto
Globe and Mail"
The head lunatic of the Fox Asulym, Bill O'Reilly, has taken
a dislike to Globe columnist John Doyle. Doyle, on the
other hand, welcomes
Fox into Canada. After all, we need something funny to watch
now that Rick Mercer has left This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
"Reacting to my column, which cheerfully suggested that the proposal
to bring the Fox News Channel to Canada should be acted upon promptly,
so that we can all take a look, and get a laugh, O'Reilly gave us
a Fox-style whacking. In his segment The Most Ridiculous Item of
the Day, he quoted from my column (which called him 'pompous'),
dismissed the Globe as a lefty outfit and said, 'Hey you
pinheads up there, I may be pompous, but at least I'm honest.'"(discuss)
The Kirby Years
Jonathan Lethem on a life
lived through comics.
"In the last year of high school, before college changed everything,
Luke and I still drifted together occasionally. Now it was he and
I who drew comics -- not innocently wishful superheroes, but what
we imagined were stark satires, modelled on Robert Crumb and other
heroes of the 'underground.' Luke had by then begun dating girls,
too, and one of our last collaborative productions was a Kirby parody
called 'Girlfriends from the Earth's Core.' A two-page strip, it
reworked the material of a failed double date of a month before,
when Luke and I had taken two girls, soon to be our first bitter
exes, to a fleabag movie theatre at the Fulton Mall. Luke 'pencilled'
the pages, and I was the 'inker' -- I specialised in Kirbyesque
polka-dots of energy, which we showed rising from the volcanic bodies
of the two primordial girlfriends." (From Bookslut)
The Legacy of Shakespeare
Shakes had quite the
impact on the English language, but the meaning of some phrases
has been twisted along the way.
"Such is the case with 'sweets to the sweet.' Today the phrase connotes
an amorous gesture. Yet originally Hamlet's mother spoke the words
in the Shakespeare play to describe funeral flowers."
Kind of like people who think "Every Breath You Take" is a romantic
song. (From Maud)
Do You Bite Your Thumb at Me? Rowr!
Get it on with this Romeo
and Juliet bedding and shower curtain. (Yeah, we know it involves
sex and death with teens... rowr!) (From Maud)
"It seems to me that it's a case of a trio of aging poets trying
to demonstrate that they're hip and with it, to choose a book with
appeal to Generation-Insert-Algebraic-Variable-Here."
Diplomatic Ninja Zach Wells considers
this year's Griffin Prize shortlist.
"On my better days, I tell myself that literary awards are meaningless,
that they routinely overlook the best work and determine verdicts
based more on common-denominator compromise than on artistic excellence.
On my better days, I am a sage and sensible fellow. But on my better
days, I haven't just finished reading this year's short list for
the Canadian portion of the Griffin Poetry Prize, administered by
the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. My better days--like
most people's, I'd wager--are few and far between. On my more human
days, I want the Griffin Prize to embody actual excellence, as the
Trust's pompous name suggests, and not merely be another high-priced
exercise in poetical diplomacy. I know I was not alone in hoping
that the internationalist foundation upon which this prize was established
would be a curative for the inevitable provincialism and nepotism
of juries drawn exclusively from the ranks of CanPo. Hope springs
eternal and all that, but this year may well represent the Prize's
worst flub yet." (discuss)
Can't We Just Put All the Poets in an Arena and Make Them Fight
to the Death?
Zach Wells also weighs
in on the issue of "formal poetry."
"For these poets, 'open' and 'closed,' 'free' and 'formal' are not
mutually exclusive opposites, but complementary options; their free
verse is carefully controlled and their formal verse spontaneously
unpredictable. They see not a choice of allegiances, but a range
of possibilities. They are of their time and for all time; their
focus is local, their appeal global. In short, they're doing what
poets have always done, giving form to chaos through language."
So Carver, Proulx, DeLillo, Moore, Etc. Aren't Political?
The Globe wrassles
with literature and ideology. That's a bear you can never beat,
folks. Just try to look big while slowly backing away.
"Does fiction change anything? Do courageous novels about the big
issues of war and injustice make a difference? Apparently that idea,
once so inspiring, is now out of fashion. During a discussion at
Montreal's Blue Metropolis writer's festival earlier this spring,
five novelists from different countries gave a firm thumbs-down
to Norman Bethune's belief that 'the writer has a duty to lead us
into the future.'" (discuss)
attitude exists because you are Canadian. Canadians are worthless.
Canadian equals coward. You don't need just Fox News Channel. First
you need to stop being Canadian."
The New York Times provides
a breakdown of the Bill O'Reilly-Globe and Mail spat.
A lot of Yanks really don't like Canada, it seems. And some Canadians
appear to be insane:
"We need fair and balanced news from Fox because the Globe and
Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are so far left.
The CBC is called by many the Communist Broadcasting Corporation.
Please don't use my last name because I don't want the government
to know that I'm illegally watching Fox on the satellite. You see,
we're allowed to hear only what they want us to hear."
And if you think Fox in Canada may be a good idea, even if just
for the yuks, you may want to read this
Salon article. (discuss)
Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist
I have to admit that the only book on the
list I've read so far is Black Bird, but it was one of
my favourite books of last year. People had a real love/hate thing
for it, which says to me it was doing something important to CanLit.
I like the look of a few of the others though, so I'll be checking
them out shortly. (discuss)
The Responsible Fiction Awards
worries that the
hipsters of CanLit are turning into their parents.
"A few years ago, a cluster of talented, young Canadian authors
had reason to feel confident. They were bending and breaking the
canon to suit their purposes and, rather than being excommunicated
for heresy, were receiving plenty of attention. It appeared as though
they had only to kick in the door of CanLit and the whole rotten
structure would come crashing down. Influenced by technology and
popular culture, they dealt in drugs, sex and urban settings; nary
a wheat field within view. But this year, HipLit has decided to
grow up a little, or at the very least, get a job, shave off the
goatee and buy a crisp new suit. Meanwhile, the younger siblings
HipLit helped inspire are vacillating between punk and Prairie,
and for the most part, choosing the latter." (discuss)
O Demon of the Hanging Chad
Paul Auster's done it all -- novels, short stories, nonfiction,
movies. Now he's a songwriter too. Listen to One Ring Zero perform
The Next Generation of Ebook
the Sony Librie actually succeed where all the others have failed?
I have to admit, I'm intrigued. While I still like the old-fashioned
book, I do like the idea of the ebook's portability and ability
to access multiple texts, Web pages, etc. And Sony has apparently
solved the readability problems that have plagued earlier versions
of the technology. The Librie doesn't have online access, but I
imagine that'll pop in a future version if it catches on. And it
should catch on, seeing
as it's modelled after the iPod. (discuss)
Damn It, For the Last Month I've Been Trying to Figure Out Whether
to Spend My Pennies on Filling Out My Sandman Collection or Replacing
My Lost Tintin Collection, When Along Comes This
Orion is rereleasing
the Asterix collection. When I was a young lad, I used a hardcover
edition of the first Asterix comic, which I'd bought on a trip to
Germany, as a writing tablet. I found it again the other day in
my parents' place, and the cover is dented all over with my determined
but terrible scrawls. Some things never change. (discuss)
China Mieville on Ted Chiang
I recently read Ted
Chiang's Stories of Your Life and quite enjoyed it. The
collection took him a decade to write and he won a whack of awards
for them. It's normally sold in the sci-fi sections of bookstores,
but it's sci-fi in the way that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is sci-fi.
My favourite piece is in the book is "Hell is the Absence of God":
"For this story, the bleak doctrines of some Christian fundamentalists
are scientific predicates known to be true. Hell and Heaven exist
-- characters can see them, sometimes -- and angels visit the earth
with bursts of Holy Presence and catastrophic side-effects. There
is, though, no moralistic Sturm und Drang; while he emphatically
problematises the theology that underpins its world, Chiang does
not descend to the finger-wagging one might expect from a liberal
A little while back, Russell Smith wasted one of his Globe
columns worrying about the reception of his new book (or was that
advertising his new book?). Well, he didn't have to worry about
the Globe. Zsuzsi Gartner reviews
it and likes it enough to make me want to read it.
"First of all, wipe those smirks off your faces. Yes you, you virtuous
cranks of both avant-garde and Ye Olde CanLit persuasions who think
a guy who writes regularly in a daily newspaper -- without tongue
seeking refuge in either cheek -- exhorting men to embrace pink
gingham shirts and salmon-hued socks, moisturizer and Detroit techno
lacks the necessary street cred or gravitas to be a serious novelist.
After all, Russell Smith the novelist (as opposed to Russell Smith
the columnist) is a satirist, and there are few things as deadly
serious as well-aimed satire. The bull's eye -- and the intellectual
heart of Muriella Pent, Smith's fifth book -- involves conflicting
notions of how art should be created, what art is for, how artists
should live." (discuss)
Amazon's new search engine, A9.com,
looks pretty good. It appears to be modelled after Google, but it
also incorporates the "Search Inside the Book" feature and lets
you archive your search history. Think I'm going to make it my default
search engine for a while and see how it holds up. (discuss)
Etgar Keret Reads
I picked up Keret's The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God
a little while ago and kind of enjoyed it. Apparently he's hip in
Israel, although he's less than impressed about that. Here's some
audio of him reading (unfortunately, it's in RealAudio format,
but what can you do). (From Moorish
Guelph University has just launched
an online site dedicated to Canadian takes on Shakespeare. Figures
the academics are just getting around to Strange Brew now.
for Writers) (discuss)
Death of the Book? Pshah!
"What went right?" The
rumours of The Books' death have been greatly exaggerated. 'Zaid
sees the true problem in the hopeless disproportion between the
flood of books and the time and physical space of readers already
overwhelmed by the larger information deluge. The speed of publication,
Zaid writes, makes us "exponentially more ignorant. If a person
reads a book a day, he would be neglecting to read 4,000 others,
published the same day."' (Thanks to RB
for the link.) (discuss)
The Book as Weapon of War
sudden outpouring of inside details* in books about the Bush
administration is all the more remarkable because of the administration's
previous success at controlling the flow of information to the press
about its workings. It is a phenomenon that is creating an unusual
reversal in which books - the musty vessels traditionally used to
convey patient reflection into the archives - are superceding newspapers
as the first draft of history, leaving the press corps to cover
the books themselves as news." (discuss)
It's Undeniable that Some Books are Levis, Some Jordache,
and Some Rough Rider.... But This?
books like common denim. (discuss)
Religious Poetry Hot Hot Hot!
me up, baby! OooOw! (discuss)
"In the past, seeing "Winnipeg" or "Manitoba"
on the back of a book was the "kiss of death" when marketing
the province's authors." Apparently, no
longer! It's just the kiss of death on a social life... (From
Gourmet Onions Still Make You Cry
The Onion is going subscription. Okay, now stuff your heart back
down your throat because the subscription area doesn't cover the
free content of the regular paper - that's still free - it's extra,
more experimental content, including multimedia. I have a strict,
miserly policy of not paying greedy bastards like Salon, Washington
Post, TLS, etc, for stuff behind subscription because I feel it
degrades the spirit of the internet. However, these fuckers are
tempting me with this... (discuss)
Something Witty About a Run in the Park ... Hey, I Have
of Run DMC loses bid for Queens poet laureate to Ishle
Yi Park. More importantly, this marks the first time in recent
memory that an American political race hasn't been swayed by celebrity.
(Though I have to admit, I'd like to see Run as US poet laureate.)
(First link from PFW)
I So Wanted This to Be About The Smiths
Morrissey snaps up Dylan
Thomas's old pub. (discuss)
Soccer Poets are Everywhere...
Maybe I can write for the Leafs? I would title
my first poem "Turning Over a New Leaf", which is
bound to win me acclaim
from my peers... (discuss)
Is Academia the
"Funeral Home of Literature"?
the debate at The Reading Experience!
"The academy is increasingly proving itself to be the funeral home
of literature--one presided over by the academic critic-embalmers
themselves. A revived literary criticism, perhaps aided if not spearheaded
by literary weblogs, might not be able to rescue all that has been
consigned to the tender graces of these critics, but surely something
can be saved." (discuss)
Self-Publishing: Scam or Opportunity?
FBI investigates some self-publishing agencies for fraud, others
they fill a gap in the market.
"Anywhere there is a community based on mutual interest and, let's
be honest, the Internet is absolutely packed to the brim with them,
this type of self-publishing makes creating their own publications
a viable option. A natural coming together of two growing Internet
But This Is My Dream
An NYU student claims
he lived in the university library.
"In an era when attending college can cost $40,000 a year or more,
hardship tales abound. But few match Steve Stanzak's curious story
of his last eight months as a homeless sophomore at New York University,
sleeping six hours a night in the subbasement of the Bobst Library,
showering in the gym or at friends' apartments, doing his homework
at a nearby McDonald's and subsisting mostly on bagels and orange
Y? Because We Love You!
The 92nd Street Y's
Unterberg Poetry Center is in
its 65th year. "William Carlos Williams opened the center's
first season in 1939 in a program that included Langston Hughes
and W.H. Auden. Later came Tennessee Williams, Dorothy Parker, Marianne
Moore, Joseph Heller, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Isak Dinesen,
George Plimpton, Wallace Stevens and Robert Penn Warren." Small
fries, everyone. I would like to get
into the archive though... (discuss)
What Hath the Anthology Wrought?
"In brute commercial terms, there is no advantage for most
publishers in maintaining contemporary poetry lists, and its publishers
generally justify their approach on the basis of prestige."
Hm. That's funny. I thought they continued to publish poetry out
of sheer habit. "Anthologies are ideal: they offer a pre-filtered
selection of the vast diversity of poetic practice: most often a
pick-and-mix counter of the more easily swallowed contemporary poems,
with some traditional flavours and favourites." Hm. That's
funny. That's how I feel about most anthologists. "If you can't
get your message across clearly, briefly and swiftly, you can forget
it. And so the poem approaches the soundbite, under the logic of
capitalism." Hm. That's funny. Wait a minute. No
it's not. (discuss)
Don't Look Behind the Closed Doors of Library Black Ops...
You May Not Be Able to Handle What You Find
In the dead of the night librarians are selling
you out. Believe it. (discuss)
Yellow Submarine to Become Children's Book
Just don't let your kids lick
the ones with brown covers or you'll find them shivering in
a corner screaming "Elmo's legs! Elmo's legs! Somebody bring
me my pockets! I can't find my Tuesdays!" (discuss)
The Writers' Journals: Boils on the Ass of Biography
No no. It's just confusing, you see, because nobody seems to write
the same damn thing down in
their journals. Can you imagine the dour, over-hyped Sylvia
of natural gas fame writing, "We will publish a bookshelf of
books between us before we perish! And a batch of brilliant healthy
children!...I am so glad Ted is first"? (discuss)
Who You're Missing
G. Moore. (From PFW)
Ted Hughes Finally Immortalized in House
And it's a good thing too, because he was starting
to fade away there. Tepid poetry and a life without controversy
will slowly erode the name of even the most upstanding Christian
sort like Ted. (discuss)
Newsflash: Sean Connery's Memoirs in 7-figure Bidding War
Body of new father and poet George Murray found in Eramosa River,
down with bills. (It's too early to tell whether the book will
be scratch and sniff.) (discuss)
So This is Why Reviewing is So Often Painful for Me...
All this time I just needed science to make
it clear... (discuss)
Liberties Set Back 20 Years...
For the mathematically challenged, that's all the way back to 1984.
kid had the secret service sicced on him when he called Bush
a terrorist in his art class notebook by drawing a picture of Wubblewoo
dressed as a devil firing a missile. You people are fucking nuts!
Nuts I tell you. Except all my friends in New York City and Seattle.
And maybe a few others. And wide swaths of Massachusetts. And some
other states. Just vote that dumb-assed, Nazi mofo out of there
Lawrence Block writes about writing
his name. "How the hell did this happen? Not to me, that's
my problem, but to the business in general? When did signed books
become such a hot ticket? Unless you count Saint Paul, book tours
are a recent phenomenon. The first authors who toured were those
whose books seemed likely to get them on local television—celebrities
who'd written (or "written") books, authors of topical
nonfiction, and cookbook authors who could go on afternoon TV and
whip up something on the spot...A dozen or so years ago, somebody
worked out what to do with the author's spare time. Instead of sitting
around the hotel all day waiting for an evening event, he could
improve each shining hour by hopping from store to store signing
stock. Early on, store personnel were hard put to know what to make
of the notion, but they got the hang of it, even as the writers
learned to overcome their natural reserve and set about forcing
their signature on stores whether they wanted it or not...My wife,
who has an abiding passion for hagiography—we have a surprising
number of editions of Lives of the Saints, not one of them signed—has
her own theory. As she explains it, a book signed by its author
is a second-degree relic, not as precious as a finger bone, but
on a par with a pair of cast-off sandals." (discuss)
Orange Prize Short List Announced
is on, as is the first Nigerian ever, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
interviewed on Moorish
Girl's blog). (discuss)
How He Did It
Michael Powell, of Powell Books, says it's
all about how you talk yourself into it. "If you say, "I
want to have a great neighborhood bookstore," I think you're
starting off on the wrong foot. I think you ought to say, "I
want to exercise my passion for books by having a very successful
neighborhood business." I went into business by borrowing $3,000--some
of the money came from Saul Bellow, who was teaching at Chicago.
I spent $1,000 on a vacation and put $2,000 into an inventory of
used books. We had 1,000 square feet. We built the shelves ourselves.
I was able to quickly repay the $3,000. We kept increasing the inventory,
expanding the space, taking on employees. At a lot of points I could
have stopped and said this is my comfort level. But I liked to buy
books too much. Then once I had the inventory, I had to figure out
a way to market it." (discuss)
Great Novels of the Future
How do you predict which ones will make it through to tomorrow?
stamina "has less to do with any of the inherent value
of a particular work than it does with the kind of mechanisms that
recognize value." Sounds suspiciously like sociology to me...
(From PFW) (discuss)
RIP: Thom Gunn
The passage of Joy, for poetry. Dead
at 74. (discuss)
E-Students in E-Sixth Grade E-Read E-Books
this because of Pong? I knew that frickin' square ball was trouble.
It started me on the path to goshdiddlydarn profanity! (discuss)
"It’s never been clear whether having children (and
this applies to both males and females of the species) marks just
a change in outward circumstance and responsibility or represents
a fundamental change in the way we’re hard-wired. Having a new baby
does change the way we look at the world, in that every speeding
car is aimed like a bullet at our very own perambulator, every toxic
waste and terrorist atrocity a direct threat to our nestlings. But
does it change us beyond that?"
Ten New States Join the EU
wish we'd join. If only to put a little more ethical distance
between us and George Wubblewoo "Orwell" down there. Plus,
Europe could use our microbreweries. (Is there a single pub there
that doesn't stock Heineken? Blech.) (discuss)
Leah-Bashing is a Hate Crime
Will it never end
for poor Leah? Stop. Rephrase. Will it never
end for rich Leah? (discuss)
Yeah, But I Actually
Do Need Them
Benjamin Cavell, author of Rumble, Young Man, Rumble,
loves and small dicks.
"I used to wear Large condoms. I wasn't sure I really needed them,
but I could wear them and so I did. Regular condoms made me feel
constricted -- which, for all I know, they may do to most men --
and I started worrying that they were cutting off part of my blood
flow, preventing me from growing to my rightful size. Also, I liked
buying the Larges, liked having them in my pocket, maybe dropping
one on the floor accidentally, letting the girl I was with see the
writing on the wrapper. When one of these girls wondered out loud
whether Large condoms were only a marketing ploy -- they did, after
all, cost considerably more than the Regulars -- I explained to
her about the constriction and the blood-flow and about how I needed
the extra room, but the truth was, I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure
who the Regular condoms had been designed for. The packages gave
no measurements. Of course, I knew the length and width of my penis,
knew them down to the sixteenth of an inch; my problem was that
I didn't know the size of everyone else's. I had read once in a
men's magazine about a study that put the average length of a man's
penis at five inches. If this was true, I was doing quite well.
I had once had a girl tell me that she thought the average was 'probably
around nine or ten.' If this was true, I was in some trouble." (discuss)
The Guardian excerpts
O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm. How do you excerpt
an orgasm? Seems to defeat the point, if you ask me. At any rate,
orgasms appear to be good for creativity.
"Both men and women may laugh or cry, or become uncommonly ticklish,
although all these reactions are less common for men on the basis
that they tend to show their feelings less anyway. Both sexes may
experience a burst of creative thought since orgasm produces a near
lightning storm in the right, creative-thinking side of the brain.
Biological duty fulfilled, there normally follows a lengthy period
of exhaustion, rest, and -- frequently -- sleep." (discuss)
The Death of Libraries?
British library system is in trouble. I imagine it's the same
in Canada and the U.S. I've stopped using them in Canada myself.
I'm tired of having to pay $50 fines for books I've returned that
have then been lost in the system. (Inaudible grumbling follows.)
"Figures on the declining popularity of the service led one analyst
to predict yesterday that it could cease to exist within 15 years.
They have also spurred the government to call a high-level meeting
to try to find answers to what is seen as a gathering crisis." (discuss)
"First, a confession: I hate blogs. I'm also addicted to them."
"To see beyond their own little world and get a sense of what's
really going on, journalists and readers need to get out of their
pajamas." I resemble that remark! In fact, I do get out of
my pajamas every day. And I have yet to wear track pants out of
the house (a sure sign you have given up on life). But this
guy has a point. (From ALDaily)
Geneva Welcomes Chile
"According to the event’s organisers, Chile’s geographic and
climactic diversity served as an inspiration for two of the 20th
century’s most celebrated poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda."
Nice to see Mistral
on the same plane with the Pabster. (From PFW)
Timothy Findley Award for New Canadian Plays
Stratford sets up the
new award and it's first winner "will work with William
Whitehead, Findley's lifelong companion, to finish a stage adaptation
of Findley's book Famous Last Words -- a project the writer left
incomplete when he died in June 2002." (discuss)
Take a Seat
The five in
line to succeed Paul Muldoon in the chair as Oxford's Professor
of Poetry includes Anne Carson. Go, baby! (discuss)
File Under: Linux Literature
Your next book could be open
source.* "In Free Culture, Mr. Lessig argues for
an expanded public domain, with voluntary licenses that are less
restrictive than a copyright and allow creators to choose whether
to share their works freely and whether to permit others to alter
them." I've been letting people read and alter my work for
free for years now. Of course, those people are my editors. (discuss)
File Under: Rock Bottom
"Backed by an NOP poll suggesting that reading books makes
you attractive, Penguin
will offer a monthly prize of £1,000 to the first man
spotted reading a featured title (the June book is Nick Hornby's
31 Songs), with the same amount going to the first woman whom
the company's surveillance unit sees "chatting up a man reading
that title". As if this weren't sufficient incentive for the
bookless dullards of the target market, "sexpert" Tracey
Cox will be appearing on Richard and Judy to hammer the message
File Under: You Don't Say...?
Women and men write
porn differently. Well, I'll be. "Although it was Martin
Amis who said that pornography is littered with the death of feelings,
it is women writers who have dramatised this most explicitly."
File Under: Does It Just Have to Be the Hands?
Scientists (who else?) have created a cell phone system that can
melodies" - a set of pins rises and falls beneath users'
fingertips in a non-Braille Braille-like fashion. This way people
can receive messages on the sly. "Our major intention with
this invention and development is to open up the sense of touch
as a new channel for human communication." Um, it wasn't one?
I suspect you nerds weren't doing it right, then. (From Clive)
File Under: The Sword is Mightier...
Whack-job Irish poet goes
nuts with sword and attacks neighbours because he thought they
were "talking about him"... Sad, but I can't come up with
a punchline. (discuss)
File Under: Full of Crap
like books about poo. Yep. We just read to 'em, then send 'em
out into the world and hope for the best. (discuss)