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Hearsay Archive:

Here we store old Hearsay items (including their discussion links). You don't have to register or sign in for discussions, you can just click the "Post a new message" button and go.

Some of the links are likely to rot over time. Sorry about that, but our fridge isn't working.
2003: August September October November December
2004: January February March April May June

April 2004:



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 issue, which 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 "Grand Slam" and Alice Sebold's "Farmboy Riot."
"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 Bookslut) (discuss)

Mechanical Writer
Rake's Progress points us to the sound poetry available over at 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 Hat) (discuss)

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) (discuss)

Superman: Red Son
Somehow I missed this comic about a commie Superman, but it sure does look cool. (From Maud) (discuss)

The Monument
I don't know this artist or this comic, but this site is an interesting breakdown of the creation process. (From Snarkout) (discuss)

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 Saloon) (discuss)

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 Literary Saloon) (discuss)

Weekend Edition:

Who's Responsible for the Death of Independent Bookstores?
The booksellers, of course. And the publishers. And the editors. And the writers. And the readers. Oh yeah, and the librarians. And the teachers.... (discuss)

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 Journal) (discuss)

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 Kent State?).
"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 Girl) (discuss)

Urban Poetics
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 Progress) (discuss)

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?

Damn!* 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
Outgoing 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) (discuss)

"There is no evidence to ascertain how his death came about."
Um, my guess is drowning. (discuss)

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. (discuss)

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... Chicken Soup for the Drunken Lout, look for it at a Walmart near you. (discuss)


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 Gaiman) (discuss)

Everything you ever wanted to know about typography but were afraid to ask. (From Language Hat) (discuss)

"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 Waldo? (discuss)

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 job"
To follow up Lynn Coady's column on the love of misery among writers I give you, Misery, 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. (discuss)

Freud Continues to Screw People Up
Including his own decendants... To think this woman could have been something, but instead she's just a novelist. (discuss)

More Kerouac
Apparently his hometown doesn't care it's his hometown. That hurts. I know because, my hometown just cares about the carrot festival. Damn carrots. (discuss)

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
They're everywhere! (discuss)

Oi, Pardner!
Soccer 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) (discuss)

What's Wrong with the State of Poetry Today?
Why, 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 Journal) (discuss)

Petrarch Trans-gendered?

Body 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
Agatha, just exactly where were you on the night in question? Hmmm? (discuss)

Cheney Puts the Brakes on Republication of Her Lesbian Odyssey
This 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 program. (discuss)

For the Birds
Peggy interviewed in Miami. (From PFW) (discuss)

Pulitzer News
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, Paul. (discuss)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Chequebooks...
Rare Joyce 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." (discuss)

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! (discuss)


Hear Hear
Contrary to popular belief in corporate media head offices, twentysomethings 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) (discuss)

Big Brother Knows Where You Live
No, really!
"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) (discuss)

Think You Can Sue Someone for Republishing Your Work Without Permission?
It may 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 Gallery) (discuss)

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)

Hate Crime?
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 the bottle."
Poets and the bottle - somehow to blame for teenage alcoholism... (discuss)

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. (discuss)

Bond - Jimmy Bond
New books 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) (discuss)

"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."
DAMN 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...
NEA 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. " (discuss)

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) (discuss)

Hey Ma! Creationists in Cobb County All Go "Ahyuk!" at Same Durned Time
Ah, the religious hillbilly right... Don't these people have anything more important than religion? Aren't there cousins to mate with or something? (discuss)

Simpsons 101
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)


Sven Pecked
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)

Plagiarists Beware...
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 repealed. (discuss)

Zoo Press Acting Cagey?
Maud reports that the powerful (ins with the Paris and Kenyon Reviews) "small" US publisher Zoo Press has cancelled their award 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 Martin, published 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
A 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
Literally. Antoine de Saint-Exupery's plane found. (discuss)

Fiction Vs. Non-
So 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 texts. (discuss)

Two Solitudes
How 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. (discuss)

Books as Art
"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 ABC
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...) (discuss)

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 up a 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 won...) (discuss)

Weekend Edition:

Ninjas Away Until Monday
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
Reverend 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. (discuss)

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."" (discuss)

Fair's Fair
Sven on reviewing and Peck (see yesterday's top post). (From Maud) (discuss)

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!) start warming 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)

Waiting for the Librarians
The 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) (discuss)

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
Hometown 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?
Russian 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 Near You...
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 to Intern
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 poetry. (discuss)

Beautiful Plumage
Molly Peacock, incredible poet, cultural activist, and lifetime New Yorker cum Torontonian, interviewed. (discuss)

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." (discuss)

The Anti-Novelist
"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 Home. (discuss)

wm. shxpErs' 12th nyt
transl8D N2 txt lingo. mayB nw D kiddies wl read it. (From Collision Detection) (discuss)

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.) (discuss)

"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. (discuss)

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
That no 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 other children of great writers who haven't been so lucky, so this is nice to see... (discuss)

School book dilemma solved. (discuss)

The Original Poet-Spy
Of course, now there are many, mostly working in our vast network of shadowy intelligence gathering ninjas. (discuss)

Vocabula Computatralia
Um.... (From Incoming Signals) (discuss)


The Life of a Sex Writer
It's not all cunniligus and blowjobs. Well, actually it is, but 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) (discuss)

To Live Among Books
Alberto Manguel moves to France because Toronto just isn't big enough for him and his books.
"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!"
Before Quimby 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."

Ah, Peggy's nekked smile. (discuss)

Canadian Nerds Rockin' Robs

Sawyer and Wilson up for Hugos. (discuss)

"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 weakness."
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 Too...
Playing 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." (From Places 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) (discuss)

Corporate Knights
This magazine 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) (discuss)


"I reserve the right to be a nigger."
Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular and contentious comic strip The Boondocks, doesn't 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) (discuss)

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?"
True 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) (discuss)

Shame Shame
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 "author"?) (discuss)

"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." Really? Translating The Aenied. I'll buy this one. (discuss)

Answer: Timbuktu
Where are precious Islamic texts crumbing to dust, Alex? (discuss)

Californians Smart, Dude
Apparently sales 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)

Hughes Letters
"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 transformations." (discuss)

Pushing Pushkin
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 their quite 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)

"The biggest 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 Yann Martel was listening. (Thanks, Twinks) (discuss)

To Bid or Not to Bid...
Rare Hamlet may fetch $2M US. Not bad for a slacker punk who can't make up his frickin mind. (From PFW) (discuss)

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, This...
Apparently Nabokov's 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"
Ah,the 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...
Nepotism: "the bedrock of social existence". (discuss)

Space Constraints in Your Bachelor Apartment?
Just get your books from these guys. (discuss)

Suuuure She's Read Them...
Celebs pick their favourite books for National Library Week - the Sleepiest Week Ever!® (discuss)


"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 The End of the Chancellor - The Last Shot and puts a face on the cover that looks suspiciously like the current, highly unpopular chancellor... (discuss)

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. (discuss)

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
Bawbawa 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 increasingly monochromatic."
The 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)

Weekend Edition:

Awards News
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) (discuss)

I Say!
British 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...
Ray 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?"
My 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."" (discuss)

"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 Love Jesus
And George Wubblewoo Bush. (discuss)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus author interviewed at Moorish Girl. (discuss)

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 the libraries, 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 Girl) (discuss)

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 Gallery) (discuss)

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 Quaker. (discuss)

Ah, Serfs - What Would a Burning English Manorhouse Do Without Them?
Burn. Along with its valuable book collection. Chivalry isn't dead. Correction: the British commoner's sense 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 story? He 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
Joyce 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.) (discuss)

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 Kentuckians. (discuss)

We Think This Could Be Stupid
The 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."
Emily 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 be younger.
"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 Solie.' (discuss)

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 Hat) (discuss)

"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."
Hear that exit music ? Is it "Eye of the Tiger" or "Taps"? Doug Gibson interviewed in Macleans. (From PFW) (discuss)

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 PFW) (discuss)

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 and Bookselling?
Consumer 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 Dennett. (discuss)

Malkovich Hitches a Ride
John 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
Ah, Mills 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) (discuss)

Queens Seeks Court Jester

Now that yo delay Run wants the job, everyone wants it and its news. So this 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...
This 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 Name. (discuss)

This is the Reason Some People In Law Enforcement Get Called Pigs
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 git. (discuss)

"An absence of sentimentality is a great thing in a writer, and separates the merely good from those who have something to say."
"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) or (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."
Marita 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 crap. (discuss)

"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." (discuss)

Clear Cut Books
"Clear 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 industry." (discuss)

Um, Sorry There Partner
Sorry 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) (discuss)


I love the Web.
"Typographica is a journal of typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on fonts and typographic design." (From Language Hat) (discuss)

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) (discuss)

"I've dubbed this the 'Sylvia Plath Effect.'"

Apparently poets 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)
Over ninja fav Michel Basilières and outgoing poet laureate Bowering. (From PFW) (discuss)

Coupland Oughtta Be On the Stage
The 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..." (discuss)

Footnotes Suck
"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...
One 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 Its Name?
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?
Write a bad fantasy book. (discuss)

You really just have to check this out. (From Clive) (discuss)

THAT's What's Wrong with My Journal Subscriptions....
None of them could be mistaken for explosives. (From Moorish Girl) (discuss)


"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) (discuss)

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) (discuss)

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) (discuss)

"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." (discuss)

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)

Weekend Edition:

"Your [expletive] 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
Ryan Bigge 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 "King George Blues." (discuss)

The Next Generation of Ebook
Will 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 intellectual." (discuss)

Muriella Pent
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,, 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 streaming audio of him reading (unfortunately, it's in RealAudio format, but what can you do). (From Moorish Girl) (discuss)

Canadian Shakespeare
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. (From Places 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
"The 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?
Selling books like common denim. (discuss)

Religious Poetry Hot Hot Hot!
Tsssss! Burn 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 PFW) (discuss)

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 really tempting me with this... (discuss)

Something Witty About a Run in the Park ... Hey, I Have a Cold...
Run 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) (discuss)

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"?
Join 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?
While the FBI investigates some self-publishing agencies for fraud, others believe 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 trends." (discuss)

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 juice." (discuss)

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
Christopher G. Moore. (From PFW) (discuss)

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, weighted 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)


American Civil Liberties Set Back 20 Years...
For the mathematically challenged, that's all the way back to 1984. This 15-year-old 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 already! (discuss)

Signer's Cramp
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
Atwood is on, as is the first Nigerian ever, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (recently 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? Apparently, literary 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
All 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?"
Eeep! (discuss)

Ten New States Join the EU
God, I 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, on first 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?
The 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) (discuss)

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) (discuss)

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)


File Under: 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 home." (discuss)

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." (discuss)

File Under: Does It Just Have to Be the Hands?
Scientists (who else?) have created a cell phone system that can send "tactile 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) (discuss)

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
Kids like books about poo. Yep. We just read to 'em, then send 'em out into the world and hope for the best. (discuss)

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