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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.


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April 2005:



Blake being held prisoner in own country
Visionary/poet (aren't they all?) William Blake's newfound, long lost watercolours seek rich British patron.

A series of lost illustrations by William Blake, the English poet and artist, which were first discovered in a second-hand bookshop in Glasgow, have been banned from leaving the country.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The sky is not falling
Canadians spend twice as much on books as we do on the cockfights. The survey makes no distinction between literature, children's books, Atkins diet manuals or, for that matter, books about cockfights. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Hear ye, hear ye, read all about it
Novelist caught red-handed selling own books by E-mail; Foer actually asked friends to buy his book, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

The E-mail was forwarded to the Daily News by an unintended recipient. When The News sought to authenticate the message, Foer responded with an E-mail echoing his sales pitch: "So can I put you down for 1,000? They make fabulous doorstops."

This sort of outrage would never happen in Canada, where we all quietly pretend to be librarians. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Canada Council announces refurbished literary awards

Taking a Bookninja recommendation from over a year ago, the Canada Council for the Arts will discontinue the Governor General's Awards for Literature in favour of new, media-friendly awards known as the Governor's International Media Medals for Intellectual Entertainment. Should be interesting. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Creeley obit
From the AP. (discuss) (Posted by George)

How is Poetry spending it dough?
On prose.

Wiman’s attention to prose is radical, and just what the doctor ordered. Because the old Poetry filled most of its pages with poems by a variety of poets, this reader read it (rarely, I admit) and put it down and picked it up, only to put it down again. The problem is that so much poetry by so many different poets either clashes or turns to mush. Since few readers can enjoy a cover-to-cover reading of poetry in this way, the magazine got set aside, hardly read, and then the next issue arrived. Wiman has turned Poetry into a magazine that gets read for news — reviews, debates, essays, letters. The poetry can be dipped into, as it must be, because he has largely stuck to the policy of publishing many poems by many poets. Wiman might have taken his credo from Frank O’Hara: "It’s even in/prose, I am a real poet."

(discuss) (Posted by George)

"The International Booker is shaping up to be the literary equivalent of the World Cup: which is to say, the British have once again invented a global sport they have little hope of ever winning."

Ouch. (discuss) (Posted by George)

When POD means Print Often, Damn it!
PODed all the way to the Orange Prize. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Foetry gets some more press
Part of the reason they keep getting good press (aside from the occasional good thing they do), is because no one in the poetry community down there will stand up and tell the other side of the story. It's really quite important that this become a dialogue rather than the one-sided name calling it currently is. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Kids' books is where it's at, if you know what you're doing...

I think I'll write one called Alligator Tart... Hmm... but what rhymes with tart?

The latest annual sales figures from Nielsen BookScan reveal why so many authors are taking up writing for children. The top five authors, according to the amount of money their work made in 2004, were Jacqueline Wilson (£8,347,573), J.K. Rowling (£5,392,239), Julia Donaldson, creator of The Gruffalo - (£4,797,459), Lemony Snicket (£4,633,296) and Philip Pullman (£3,964,892). The year's best-selling hardback book for children was The Beano Annual, which sold 260,211 copies, whereas the paperback of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix sold 329,826 copies.

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

"A bunker mentality"
Paglia on poetry. Break, Blow, Burn. (Does she mean garrison mentality? I think she means garrison mentality. She must mean garrison mentality. That's what a BA in Canada taught me. How to say Garrison Mentality.) (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The poet laureate
Andrew Motion is sure up against some stiff competition... (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Children bare necks for vampire books
Nothing like a little blood and gore to get the kiddies excited. Darren O'Shaughnessy aka Darren Shan's vampire books turn kids and parents alike into freakish book-buying zombies.

"It's not a glamorous, exciting career, it's one fraught with dangers and pitfalls, no pensions, no guaranteed income, the threat of writer's block hanging over you all the time, the ridicule and disbelief of friends and family who want to know when you're going to stop messing around and get a "real" job."

Huh. It turns out writing and vampirism have alot in common. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

India losing sleep over Buddhist book on insomnia
It turns out that the problem with the Western sleep template is that we think we are entitled to sleep, that's it's a God-given right to sleep and that by crickey we are going to sleep when in fact sleep is just an illusion to which only narcissists aspire. Try Zen Sleep. Namaste. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Fake books flood Hanoi
I like the idea of contraband books; it seems sort of covertly glamourous but, still, it does beg the question, if the fakes are indistinguishable from the actual books, why are criminal printers able to offer their wares at such cut rates? (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

John Paul II outsells his nemesis, Dan Brown?
The idea of 117 perfect mind-body splits convening to choose the biggest mind-body split of them all sends absolute shivers down my back. Meanwhile, thousands flock to bookstores for papa and his popetry. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Ninja signs off on working vacation

I won't be posting much, if anything, this week because of other obligations, including: writing a couple articles, a massive job interview and moving to Toronto on Friday. So I leave you in the hands of Darbyshire and Kuitenbrouwer. May god have mercy on your souls. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Another reason to keep the kids indoors
Canwest launches Dose, a free newspaper aimed at indoctrinating your children. I guess the name Dose is meant to innoculate the young minds into thinking they are getting a broad view. And I'm sure it's all in good fun.

The passing of the pontiff on Saturday offered Dose a major story for Monday's launch issue.

"I was really excited actually. Really excited," Hegan, who was born the year the late pontiff was elected, told CBC News. "It's an incredibly important event in the lives of everyone. So I was really excited that we could come in at such a crucial time when people are really looking to connect with each other and figure this thing out."

Yup. Really exciting. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

This'll wup those used bookstores's butts
Amazon.com has purchased Booksurge and clearly plans to get in the print on demand business. Does this mean I can order all my books to match my living room colours? Oh, god, this is going to be just great! (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Is a rose a rose a rose?
And does it smell as sweet? My next book will be about an author writing about a character in another novel writng a novel. It's a shoe-in for the prizes, naturally.

Like most developments in the book business, this one isn’t new (Weber traces it to Jean Rhys and her borrowing from Jane Eyre for Wide Sargasso Sea, which was published in 1966), but seems to have grown in intensity. And what is prompting all these creative minds to (literally) take a page out of someone else’s book? Are writers responding to the din of the literary past, or could it be that the hoofbeats in the marketplace are ringing in their ears?

I urge one of you out there to write a blog based on my diary of writing this novel. The new trend will be called po-po-po-molit. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

In Pulitzer news
Robinson and Kooser for fiction and poetry. Coll's comprehensive book on Afghanistan for non fiction. Read it here. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Too stacked for the stacks?
She's black, she's good-looking, she dresses sexily and she's a she --- all obvious reasons for discrimination. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

D is for wife on opium
Why are dictionary stories always marked by heartbreak and madness? This doesn't bode well for my latest project, a dictionary of German words for joy.... (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Two words: Cage match
Too many creative-writing grads and not teaching positions. What to do?

The total number of academic positions this year, for example, was 393, about half of what was available in 2003. And most of these are temporary assignments with no prospect of renewal. Moreover, while there are fewer jobs available for creative writers, there are more graduates than ever -- 8,000 job-seekers according to Fenza, competing for a mere 65 tenure-track teaching positions. Even Herman Melville, were he alive, wouldn't like those odds. A friend used to joke that by the time he qualified for a tenure-track job, you'd need a Nobel Prize in literature to get an interview.

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

And you thought we were geeks
This site collects every Sin City link around. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

But who will watch the studio heads?
SciFi Weekly reports the Watchmen movie may be in trouble. Full text below.

Speculation is running high that new Paramount chief Brad Grey is pulling the plug on the film version of Alan Moore's seminal superhero graphic novel Watchmen, but others say the studio will go ahead with the much-anticipated film, Variety reported. Producer Larry Gordon and studio spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick insisted to Variety that Paramount will go ahead, with British director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) at the helm. "We really want to make it," Kirkpatrick told the trade paper. "We think it's a great piece of material."

Watchmen came under scrutiny in the wake of Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman's replacing Donald De Line as studio president; De Line reportedly found out about the change while in London meeting with Greengrass about Watchmen and the need to cut its budget, rumored to be $100 million, the trade paper reported. Paramount had been aiming for a June start, but in recent days, some of the crew members working on preproduction have been released. Kirkpatrick said some crews remain on the job, the trade paper reported.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


RIP Saul Bellow
The great American Canadian has died at 89.

This most American of writers was born in Lachine, Quebec, a poor immigrant suburb of Montreal, and named Solomon Bellow, his birthdate is listed as either June or July 10, 1915, though his lawyer, Mr. Pozen, said yesterday that Mr. Bellow customarily celebrated in June. (Immigrant Jews at that time tended to be careless about the Christian calendar, and the records are inconclusive.) He was the last of four children, but as he was always quick to point out, the first to be born in the New World. His parents had emigrated from Russia two years before, though in Canada their luck wasn't much better. Solomon's father, Abram, failed at one enterprise after another. His mother, Liza, was deeply religious and wanted her youngest child, her favorite, to become either a rabbi or a concert violinist. But Mr. Bellow's fate was sealed, or so he later claimed, when at the age of 8 he spent six months in Ward H of the Royal Victoria Hospital, suffering from a respiratory infection and reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the funny papers. It was there, he said, that he discovered his sense of destiny - his certainty that he was meant for great things.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The Amazing Adventures of Lethem and Chabon
In which they fight the evil Candace Bushnell. With a special guest appearance by Jonathan Franzen. (From Maud) (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Even the poets complain about poetry
For Slate, April is the Month of Poetry Against Poetry. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

The Atlantic ceases publishing fiction
Because really, tales of the Bush administration are far stranger and creative than anything a fiction writer could dream up. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)


Griffin Poetry Prize
Shortlist announced. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The conglomerates do do big business
More reasons the big publishers stay big. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Maybe Atwood could invent a' unotchit from the crypt'
More problems in the world of book tours. Richard P. Feynman's letter set to tour with Einstein's brain. Well, not exactly...

Feynman, whose telegenic presence made him a sought-after speaker, was always his own best advertisement. But his death in 1988 made an author tour to promote the new book problematic, at best.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's John Paul II?
The Incredible Popeman. irreverent or irrelevant? (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Just download it off the internet
Naomi Klein is encouraging readers to do just that.

It looks like a Naomi Klein book. It has her name emblazoned on the cover. In a tilt to her bestseller, No Logo, it's called No War. The design is strikingly similar. The book's synopsis on Amazon namechecks the activist writer in the first sentence. But, according to Klein, No War by Naomi Klein is not by her at all. It is an anthology of essays which, says Klein, "contains one previously published magazine article by me that has been available free-of-charge on my website for eight months".

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Camilla's paterfamilias?
Andrew Motion has to make a poem to hallmark the royal wedding but can't find a good rhyme; can you help him out? (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)



German author busted
This is straight out of Hergé's Tintin.

"I began reading the book in January after someone gave it to me for Christmas,'' he told the London-based Guardian newspaper yesterday from his home in Hamburg.

"At first I started thinking, 'This is uncanny. This is the kind of stuff I could have written'. After reading a couple of hundred pages it dawned on me that I had in fact written it.''

I'll get you, you bilge-rat. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The real enemy
Israeli indie bookstores are losing ground against mall chains. When is the war to save intellectualism going to start? I'm gearing up and I'm ready to head in. You girls with me? (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Here we go again, tilting at windmills

Physicists in Spain are celebrating the 400th anniversary of publication of "Don Quixote" in a very small way: they wrote the first paragraph on a silicon chip in letters so tiny the whole 1,000-page book would fit on the tips of six human hairs.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)


Missing ninja update
Thanks to several milk carton ads and a benefit fundraiser starring some fat roadies who used to work for Boney M, Ninja Murray has been found in Toronto. Despite a disheveled appearance and minor malnutrition (brought on by acute Guinness deficiency), Murray appeared in good spirits as he was shepherded back to his computer and chained to the desk. "Get to work, maggot," barked taskmasters Darbyshire and Kuitenbrouwer as they prepared to head to the prince's ball. If only Murray had a gown and glass slippers to attend.

Seriously, I'm back in civilization and got the job I was hoping for. Life is good. Things may continue to be slow from me as I unpack and begin my new job, but I hope to be back someday. (Posted by George)

Poets, the unacknowledged physicists of the world...
Dante bests Galileo by 300 years. (discuss) (Posted by George)

"New Manitoba law prevents criminals from making profits on books, movies"

Great, now Jimmy FlinFlon can't cash in on his epic about breaking the window at the Wine Rack and running off with a bottle of premium, five dollar hooch. Um, I hate to burst your bubble, but people aren't paying attention to what the law-abiding folk of Manitoba are doing, much less lining up to get the dirt on those in the clink. (Note to Macleans: news is interesting.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Drunken poet penned 250,000 copy bestseller
This sounds about right.

For almost 30 years from 1757, Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies was the essential gentleman's accessory for a night on the town. Historian Hallie Rubenhold estimates it sold at least 250,000 copies.

It offered very particular advice, guiding clients to the doorstep of Miss Smith, of Duke's Court in Bow Street, "a well made lass, something under the middle size, with dark brown hair and a good complexion"; warning them off Miss Robinson, at the Jelly Shops, "a slim and genteel made girl - but rather too flat"; and kindly including Mrs Hamblin, No 1 Naked-Boy Court in the Strand - "The young lady in question is not above 56 ... we know she must be particularly useful to elderly gentlemen who are very nice in having their linen got up".

Oi! Shoin yeh shoes, guvnah? Ow's about sumfin else ven? (discuss) (Posted by George)

The end of privacy

I feel like a shrivelled old tanned-to-orange nudist. At Bookninja we will never collect information on you, our users. Primarily this is because we don't know how. But it also has to do with laziness. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The old note-under-the-door trick nabs the man...
But lady, haven't you read the papers? You aren't getting anywhere with this guy. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The award hoover FSG
Profiled. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Small presses, big business
Apparently everything we've ever learned about small presses was wrong. They're lighting their stogies with c-notes, baby.

Abraham said that traditional studies released by the study group, the Association of American Publishers and others assume that the solid majority of book sales comes from the larger organizations, with the top 50 making at least $20 billion out of a $28 billion market. Wednesday's report, titled "Under the Radar," asserts that the industry is both larger and less concentrated than previously believed.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Liverpool's poetry elite gather...
To what? Piss off the docks? What the hell is there to do in Liverpool but die of lung cancer? (discuss) (Posted by George)

College texts aren't too expensive...
And smoking will make you attractive to people.

The Association of American Publishers yesterday rejected complaints about the high price of college textbooks, made in letters sent Thursday to a large publisher and signed by more than 700 college mathematics and physics professors. The letters, solicited by California Public Interest Research Group, were sent to Thomson Learning, a division of Toronto-based Thomson Corp.

Fucking Torontonians. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Emily Dickinson's house
Gives insight into a life of poetry, oppression, and repression. Except, we don't really talk about those last two. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bookninja gets some bumph
The old grey mare gets the once-over at TDR. Ah, gal, yeh shine up nice. (discuss) (Posted by George)

We don't usually link to reviews...
But how can I not link to something headlined with "Historic ode to nipple-sucking men of Ireland"? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Raymond Carver -- nature writer
More specifically, he was a nature poet. Stranger than fiction.

those who have read Carver's late work will know, during the last 10 years of his life he wrote poem after unexpected poem about river, sea and forest. That final decade, indeed, was an unexpected one for Carver: he called it his "second life".

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Is the age of erratum over?
Not judging from the books I've been reading lately. When did copy editing become an optional feature?

The fact is, publishers make as many mistakes as they ever did, but advances in printing technology have made first runs smaller and the mistakes tend to be corrected only in later editions. A recent exception is the first American edition of Cold Mountain, where an erratum slip points out that a reference to "man-woman" ought to read "mad-woman": there were no transvestites in the American Civil War, although their inclusion might have jollied up the Jude Law film.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

20 things about Winnie-the-Pooh
Did you know about the Rolling Stones connection?

While writing the Pooh stories, AA Milne and his family lived at Cotchford Farm, in Hartfield. The house was later owned by Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, and will forever be remembered by rock fans as the place where he drowned in the swimming pool.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

How to take care of your poet
I always neuter mine so they don't reproduce.

Just like people, poets can develop unhealthy, adverse, and sometimes dangerous habits. Poets are cute but, let's face it, they can disrupt a household. Like children, they need guidance and discipline to live happily and healthily with the "adults" in their lives. From fundamental manners to problem solving, anything is possible with a good education.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



RIP: writer, feminist Andrea Dworkin. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Norse legend rocks
Not news but a great story. After all the discussion on Bookninja regarding good vs bad poets, I thought this legend might lighten the mood. The Mead of Poetry. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Munro timely
Alice Munro makes the Times's top 100 most influential people list. Now all she needs is the cover of the Rolling Stone and, like, Macleans. Move over Checkhov. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The drama grows... or is that foes?

The man behind Foetry has been outed. Unfortunately, so has his poet wife. This just gets juicier, but it's like juice from chewing tobacco. Anonymity will always lead to heartache. I really feel sorry for the woman involved. For several reasons. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Lit blogger coop
Some good press for this lit bloggers co-op, a neat idea spearheaded by Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation. For the record, Bookninja was originally a member (in fact, as a nominating member, I picked one of the titles currently under consideration), but I decided to bail after a bit. Part of the reason was ideological, part to do with time and effort. But regardless, I think it could be a good thing and should be supported. The books are bound to be interesting. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Lazy-assed professor lets ass get lazier
Now you can pay by internet and get your insta-grade by computer. Um, dude, what are you being paid for?

Ed Brent, professor of sociology at the Columbia, Mo., university, spent six years developing the program, which is called Qualrus, and has been testing it on his pupils for the past two. It works by scanning text for keywords, phrases and language patterns. Students load papers directly into the system via the Web and get nearly instant feedback.

How can a cold, mechanical computer comprehend the art and nuance of writing? The program is actually quite sophisticated, Brent said. It's not enough to just throw keywords into an essay willy-nilly. The program analyzes sentence and paragraph structure and can ascertain the flow of arguments and ideas. It gives each work a numeric score based on the weight instructors place on various elements of the assignment.

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

Blog excuse notes
Remember how last week I kept posting that my life was too busy to update? Apparently that's against the rules, sort of.

Habitual excuse notes were starting to bug me until I realized that blogs perform much the same functions that personal letters used to, back in the days when the U.S. mail was associated with the agile pony rather than the pokey snail. After all, 98.7 percent of all personal letters ever written begin with the same apology. "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write, but ... "


Interviewed at CBC. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Northrop Frye Festival
To host writers in fortified huts deep in wilderness. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Here's a little something to start your day at work...
And my first day at my new job. I'm itching already. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Dobozy Globe and Mail gaffe
I felt the same way Ryan Bigge did about this mistake. Or is this a clever marketing strategy? Tamas Dobozy, bright young thing.... Either way, I'm glad to see he's got another book out. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Why do we need a poet lauerate?
More specifically, why does Edmonton need a poet laureate? Is it so they have someone to blame when the gods turn all their oil into soy milk? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Amazon House to sell iStories!
Actually, I think this is a great idea. I've been saying for ages that the micropayment business model is the best one for the Web, and maybe this program will revitalize the short-story market. Hey, somebody has to be innovative in this business.

Sources say that over the last few months Amazon has quietly been making the rounds to agents, in search of authors to write short pieces Amazon could post for sale. According to one version of the plan, Amazon would charge $.49 per electronic download for short stories, journalism, essays and other work; the material would be exclusive to Amazon and would not appear in a book or any other form. Material would be in the 2,000-10,000 word range and could include such updates as alternative endings to novels. An audio component could also be in the works; the company is requesting audio rights.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

How many men read fiction?
More than you may think. So stop putting pretty covers on books, damn it!

Even the books that might appeal to men aren't marketed to them. Miriam Toews's Governor General's Award-winning A Complicated Kindness is about a 16-year-old female protagonist, but it's funny and includes enough sex, drugs and rebellious teenage angst that the men I know who've read it, loved it. But those men had to get past the less-than-manly title and a cover that features pink and orange trim. "A lot of guys think, and I do blame the publishing industry for this," says Smith, "that if they read fiction it's going to be like having that long conversation with your girlfriend that she always wants to have about the relationship and where it's going."

Those conversations are much easier to handle with the aid of audiobooks and a small headphone hidden in your ear. Just remember to say "I'm sorry" and "If it's that important to you I'll work on it" every few minutes. (From Quill) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Finally a Jesus we can relate to
And they want to crucify him.

A Greek court will rule on whether to allow sales of a cartoon book from Austria depicting Jesus Christ as a drinking buddy of Jimi Hendrix and a marijuana-smoking, naked surfer.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Poets unite

City wants to step all over you. Don't let them get away with this; it's an outrage.

Perhaps fitting for a writer known for "concrete" poetry, he was honoured about 10 years ago, not just with the lane named after him, but with his own words carved into the asphalt: "A LAKE / A LANE / A LINE / A LONE."

Inspired by this tribute, City Councillor Cesar Palacio (Davenport) says he would like to see poetry engraved in select roads and sidewalks across the city to promote the arts. He is sponsoring a motion, set to go before city council today, that would instruct city staff to cook up a pilot project for what he calls "Poetry in the Street."

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Strange and stranger
That's what I call mine, anyway. Pamela Anderson plays a bookstore clerk in the new sit-com 'Stacked.' Judging from the Big-Macization of the box chains and their minimum wage approach to staff, this (and this) is about right. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Oh, for the love of God
Placido plans to pop-op pope. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)


Jacobs wins Shaughnessy Cohen Award
Dark Age Ahead wins more attention. Jacobs is her usual elegantly smart self:

"I think it's more important that the general citizenry pay attention," Ms. Jacobs said. "They're the ones that really move things."

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Language terrorists
Fifty angry protesters burn down a library in Manipur, India. Their issue? Language rights.

Police say that a group of nearly 50 protesters started the fire. They say they came from two groups.

The first is a regional group, Mayek Erol Evek Loinasillon Apunba Lup (Meelal) - or the United Forum for Safeguarding Manipuri Script and Language.

For several months it has been demanding the introduction of Manipur's ancient Mayek script, and the abolition of Bengali script that has been used for the last three centuries to write the Meitei language.

The second organisation is a separatist rebel group, Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) which has called for a week's strike in support of the Meelal's demands.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The curse of the prolific author
Can one write too much? (You know, I had said a whole bunch of eloquent stuff too, about the well of creative energy and public perception of the work of the artist, but apparently the hotdog metaphor was just too good to resist. Much like hotdogs themselves.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Trillium shortlists announced
Some good titles here. Some... yeah. (discuss) (Posted by George)

A bookstore without a health section
More on Pamela Anderson's first brush with books. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Why Dana Gioia Matters

Because he's making a career out of explaining why things like poetry and literature matter. A Bush appointee and big-businessman. Somebody hit me. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Love Borges?
A whole database worth of love? (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

It's all the grad students
Mysteries are doing just fine. (discuss) (Posted by George)

A primer for the people. I love the Guardian. Love it. (discuss) (Posted by George)

You cross her and it's scccrrrrchh for you
Alice Munro is on Time's most influential people list. Of course, the hideous she-beast of America Ann Coulter is also on said list, so one must take these things with a grain of salt (and a pound of aspirin). (discuss) (Posted by George)


More boob news; I mean, book news
Dolly Parton giving books to little kids.

The first book is "The Little Engine that Could," and it comes with a letter from Parton, who began the program for preschoolers in Sevier County, Tenn., which is her home.

Aww, shucks, Dolly, ain't you sweet. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Mark down April 28th
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comes to the screen and apparently it's good.

Everyone concerned with the film has been careful to honour Adams's intentions - though some inspired guesswork has been necessary. At the time of his death, Adams had moved from his north London home to California to write a feature film script for The Hitchhiker's Guide. He saw a film as the culmination of various incarnations of the work, but he had struggled mightily to write a workable script.

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Book tours
Not what you think.

Larry Portzline, creator of the “Bookstore Tourism” concept and author of the book by the same name, has launched a blog to share updates about the project, tips and ideas for booklovers, and insights about the bookselling and publishing industries.

Here's the link to the blog. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Motion sickness
I was hoping for a little more horse and a little less ellipse but I guess under the circumstances, it does the trick...of saying absolutely nothing, that is. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

First fiction on tour

Take a bunch of first-time authors and send them on a tour of bars together. Sounds like reality TV for nerds. I'm there. (discuss) (Posted by George)

"Sylvia Plath is to poetry as Bruce Lee is to the world of martial arts"
Not so sure about that. See, Bruce was cool... How about this: "If Ted Hughes had died tragically instead of Sylvia Plath, she'd have been to poetry what Bruce Lee's wife was to the world of martial arts".

Quite correctly, Ilana Trachtman's recently released Biography Channel film on Sylvia Plath notes that ''her death would bring more fame than she ever achieved in her life."

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Key Porter loses key Porter

Anna Porter is stepping down. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Romance judge wonders, "Where's the beef?"
Romance judge. Hm. Sounds like my wife. Badump bump!

There was plenty of sex, illness and family breakdown on the shortlist, but no real gut-wrenching, bodice- ripping, burst-your-heart-with-hope- and-despair romance. Instead what we had were tales of love in a cooling climate, free of racing pulses, with nothing Byronic between them.

Warning: grisly picture alert. (discuss) (Posted by George)

File under: How ironic
Unpublished Tennessee Williams poem discovered in bookstore. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Read This!

The Lit-Bloggers' Coop gets some more press. (discuss) (Posted by George)

First he turns down the OBE
Now he writes a "poem" for the last episode of The Osbournes. This guy is shooting straight for the top. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

We rock (well, she rocks...)
Ninja Kuitenbrouwer's new book, The Nettle Spinner, gets a killer review in the Globe. The first of many, I'm sure. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The history of desktop publishing in Japan
From the introduction of woodblock type to the development of a Japanese word processor. I'm going to read this as a bedtime story to the next kid I have.

Determined to make their offices as efficient as those of the West, the Japanese invented a typewriter for their own complex writing system early in the 20th century. The typist was touted as the belle of the workplace. But the Japanese typewriter was a challenging tool that could only be mastered after rigorous training. The development of a truly efficient writing machine -- the word processor -- necessitated a reassessment of the Japanese language itself.

(From Memepool) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The top 10 list of publishing history
What, nothing about blogs?

5. Did a typo launch Oxford University Press? The most notorious misprint ever produced was committed in 1631 by the King of England's official bible printer. The seventh commandment appeared in print without the word "not," becoming "Thou shalt commit adultery." In an age fearful of religious heresy and moral degeneracy, this so-called "wicked" bible was taken as bearing a seriously dangerous message, if not a deliberate one. So, the printer had to pay an appropriately serious fine. Pressing his advantage, the archbishop of Canterbury further compelled him to publish three texts in ancient Greek, to launch what he intended as an extensive publishing program in the classics. The program was to be associated with Oxford University, and would issue works of specialized learning that the commercial market could not support. The initiative was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war and the archbishop's own execution as a traitor, but revived in 1660 when the war ended. The relaunched project eventually became what is now Oxford University Press.

(From Wood s lot) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The art of Maruice Sendak
Otherwise known as suffering.

Mr. Sendak may celebrate wild things, but he is a meticulous craftsman. The playwright Tony Kushner wrote about his methodology in "The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present," the sequel to Selma Lanes's illustrated biographical study. "I've been moved and have felt privileged to observe firsthand how deeply Maurice suffers a picture book," wrote Mr. Kushner, a close friend who collaborated with him on "Brundibar," both the opera and a children's-book version published in 2003. "He has drawn 'Brundibar' twice now; he produced an entire set of sketches and then, losing faith in the approach he had taken, considered abandoning the book." This after a half-century of doing professional work.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



Golems I have known
Michael Chabon's Holocaust Hoax; listen here. Aren't writers supposed to make people believe things that aren't true? (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Imperfect perfectionist
Turns out William Blake was not a visionary, did not have God's hand guiding his every sublime move. Turns out he just worked really really hard. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Genghis Khan: new posterboy for literacy?
This'll definitely get the boys reading.

"To make a parallel, imagine if our country's history was written by the people of Africa or India. He was intent on sharing his riches with his people, and wanted to raise levels of culture, law and literacy. He also brought Chinese medicine to his people." Mr Bazalgette is not the only one taking a new look at Genghis Khan. Mike Yates, the founder of LeaderValue, a company which provides leadership resources, uses him as an example of a figure who achieved success through the "four Es of leadership" - envision, enable, empower and energise".

(discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Rebel rebel
An interesting piece on the American rebel writer. Includes Richard Brautigan!

But ''The Outlaw Bible'' is supposed to be good for you, and that's what changes it from an entertaining miscellany to something worth thinking about. Depending on where you sit, it's either a document recodifying a revolution or a relic recyling an obsolescent controversy.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

CSI for ancient literature
A nerfty piece on the method behind decoding what might be hundreds of lost plays by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod. It gets me all tingly. (discuss) (Posted by George)


The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced and that tattooed biker chick, Billie Morgan author Joolz Denby, is up. Browr. Who needs to even read the books when you have such colourful personalities? Though, I must say, I cringe when I read "former "biker chick" from Bradford"... it's a small town Ontario thing. (By the by, I've heard nothing but hushed awe about Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. Has anyone on the Ninja read it?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

When cries of foul go too far

How about this one? Is it plagiarism or mere oversight?

The article, by Wyatt Mason, a Harper's contributing editor, concludes that the book, "E. E. Cummings: A Biography," by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, "is jammed with instances of wholesale borrowing - not only of research but of storytelling and language."

With 1400 notes, I can't imagine that this was anything but an oversight. People have got to seriously calm down. The word plagiarism itself is being robbed of credibility and power. Okay, what about this one? Did Michael Chabon overstep the bounds of propriety?

Mr. Maliszewski pointed out that the Nazi character was entirely fictional, and contended that Mr. Chabon had misled his listeners into believing it was real. He suggested that Mr. Chabon had "fashioned a Jewish identity for himself that incorporates - through an utter fiction - the Holocaust."

The lecture's organizers have said the lecture was clearly advertised as a series of yarns. In a letter that will be printed in the next issue of Bookforum, Matthew Brogan, program director for the Jewish literary nonprofit organization Nextbook, which sponsored some of the performances, wrote that Mr. Chabon had "signaled to the audience at every turn that the narrator is not to be completely trusted." Mr. Maliszewski, he added, had "deliberately misread these signs in the hope of stirring up a scandal."

This last strikes me as started by someone who seriously needs some medication. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Hey, I'd go to more poetry readings if I could sleep
If Atwood gets to do it.... (Thanks, Jeff) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Coming soon to a designer boutique near you
The Tintin line of clothing. (Thanks, Paul) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

"I never really got on with Heidegger"
The Guardian conducts a strange interview with Irvine Welsh. I wish more interviews were like this.

MM: Is ignorance our sole resource?

IW: It's seldom a real resource at all, and although it can often seem that way, that's only because we are operating from a position of ignorance.

(From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Letting the rabble edit?
It sounds alot like how the Oxford was built, no? Microsoft follows in Wikepedia's footsteps but pretends somehow it's different. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Can-po in Soho
We're infiltrating the American poetry market. An army of polite Canadian poets heads South to spread the Gospel of Edge. We're big, we're bad, and we're...actually, kinda cute. While eminent U.S. sociologist Kitty Warkle worries the title of this anthology may attract stray bullets, publicist Joni Bickle maintains that Open Field is meant "to elicit a breaking down of fences, an open field, if you will." (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

The truth about prizes
What we already knew, confirmed. Though this bit pisses me off:

"It happens all the time in prize committees," says Freeman, "where two books that have a lot of supporters split the vote, and a third book comes in from behind." One such upset occurred in 1998, according to the NBCC's Hammond. "There was a huge contest" between Don DeLillo's Underworld and Roth's American Pastoral. The winner? The Blue Flower, by British author Penelope Fitzgerald. "We can say it, now that she's died," says Hammond. "It wasn't the book that people felt passionate about."

I know quite a number of poeple who feel very passionately about this book but, naturally, The Blue Flower's subtlety and quiet wisdom wouldn't be on the top of the list for such juries. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Speaking of productivity

My favourite hotdog-eater herself. Looking strikingly like an early 20th C Russian poet. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Nobel drive for Leonard
Yeah, that oughtta work. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The search-ability of Canadian literary magazines
Warning: this is hardcore academia and not for the faint of heart. May not be worksafe if sleeping on the job is against corporate policy.

A national repository or "commons" of Canadian literary content with a specialized search capability might serve the needs of readers and publishers. However, this would radically decrease the autonomy of each individual publication. This transformation in accessibility also then becomes entangled in issues of copyright. Has the efficacy of online reading progressed to this point? Are we ready for such a shift in literary access?

(From AOABS) (discuss) (Posted by George)

I want to read the article on the prom...

Young Gay America. It's about time. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The new face of Iowa

Nicer to look at than the old face.

One of her goals, Ms. Chang said, is to raise money from individuals and foundations to provide full tuition scholarship to all workshop students. Now some of them get aid through scholarships and teaching fellowships.

Hear hear! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Oh, come on...
Like you haven't ever walked into a library with an axe and started surfing porn before. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Thwup. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)



The unheralded copyeditor -- or is that copy editor?
Someone lifts a rock and asks a few question of my pale, brooding kin before they burrow back into their manuscripts.

One needs to be fairly neurotic to copyedit -- you have to be willing to spend time worrying about whether something's a restrictive participle or a nonrestrictive one, and you actually have to care. Relatedly, it has to make a difference to you whether the name of the song is "I Want to Hold You Hand" or "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

(From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Watch out -- I think you just stepped in some. Uh, gross. Lisa Richardson wipes her feet of Bookcrossing.com. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Catholics everywhere fall for the biggest publicity stunt of the year. Joey Ratzinger vies for the papacy (and wins!!!) and within hours his books become bestsellers. Who needs Oprah when you have God and the hordes on your side? Excuse me, I have to find a confessional; I'm feeling so guilty about this post, I can't tell you. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Everything's gonna be alright
Cedella Marley and Gerald Hausman publish a children's book about Bob Marley's early years: The Boy From Nine Miles: The Early Life of Bob Marley. (discuss) (posted by Kathryn)

Okay, so the kids are, like, ugly, which is realistic, right? So that's our premise, eh. Let's take it from there. Oh, and throw in a fedora for the dufus...

Canadian screenwriters at the Handicam Awards for excellence in crappy TV. (discuss) (Posted by George)

They're disdainful and rude out of love, man...
Is it more respectable to work in an independent bookstore? I'd say yes. But then, I just spent $100 at Book City yesterday on two books. Those sneaky independent clerks ignored me in circles until I was so flustered I just bought the first dense anthology of modern French poetry my hand landed on.

No matter how you paint the picture for strangers, retail work is not particularly rewarding. But there is a perception that independent stores do carry an inherent nobility. They are fighting the good fight against Big Corporate America, and retail clerks are the foot soldiers. We are on the side of quality products and customer care. We represent freedom of choice and giving back to the community. We call our manager by his or her first name, wear jeans to work, and recognize frequent customers. And we like to think we are infinitely happier than the corporate slaves in the chain store around the corner.

My two co-workers used to work at this chain bookstore. One, a woman in her mid-fifties, was in charge of ordering books for the adult retail department, but she quit when the higher-ups hassled her for ordering academic titles instead of Danielle Steele and John Grisham. My other co-worker, a man in his early twenties who manned the information desk, felt uncomfortable working in a bookstore where employees were forbidden to read the books and expected to stand for eight hours a day. (To ensure that employees were not tempted to rest, management took away all of the employees' chairs.)

(From Moby) (discuss) (Posted by George)

PEN authors say writing makes a difference
Well, they would, wouldn't they... (discuss) (Posted by George)

As the world burns...

A longer piece on the litblog coop effort. With people other than Mark Sarvas mentioned, too! If you follow the daytime blog operas, note the controversial remarks by Bookslut's saucy Jessa Crispin. Coupled with remarks by the story's author, they've got a few knickers in twists. I think they're being taken widely out of context and everyone needs to pop chill pills and remember there are important things to get angry about. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Your one-stop Sumerian poetry shop

I love the internet. (From Incoming Signals) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Too true

The effects of parenthood on performers. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Never met a German who toasted tentatively
AND!!! Upset in Scotland as Rowlings takes a beating from Ratzinger. The dark arts can't even begin to compete with the heavenly, sweet, lyricism of pouffy clouds and forgiveness and the flutter of winged Angels. Ratzinger, it's Ratzinger to the goal. The crowd is booing; no. no! The crowd is speaking in tongues. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Not just any old spit
Jane Fonda endures tobacco spit at a recent booksigning. Next it'll be snuff. But what a trooper!

[Event sponsor] Jennings said Fonda received a standing ovation when she came out and when she finished speaking. She said the actor never got up from her seat and continued autographing books after the tobacco juice was wiped off.

Vietnam vet or ex-cowboy lover? Or both? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
C.K Williams wins $100,000. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Foetry's Cordle tries desperately to patch things up

Is Cordle telling the truth about closing down the site or just saving face and trying to prop up the mess he's made for his wife? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Novelists trade self-respect for sales
A list of 150 novelists have signed an open letter begging HRH Oprah to return to the world of book pimping. Oprah, straightening the purple feather in her white, wide-brimmed fedora, tapped her rhinestone-studded cane thoughtfully and said she'd "considamer the requestamatation." She then kicked the pleading novelists from her flared pantleg and told them to get "they's bitch-assed faces back on the street" before she really gets angry.

Authors complain that with publishers and bookstores consolidating, there are fewer avenues for new authors to break through. Winfrey's book club, they argue, was one of the few developments to bring people back to bookstores in a decade that has seen a steady decline in sales of literary fiction.

I feel sorry for the novelists. They're so desperate and grubby. People, once you give up on sales and money-making, it's really easy to say fuck it to anything but your art. Ask your poet friend. But call him at his day job. (Um, anybody want to venture some analysis on the estrogen to testosterone ratio in this list?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

And in what's likely related news
Anne Rice is selling some property. Included in the sale will be a walk-in closet full of black candles, an unpublished manuscript titled "Lestat Goes Bananas", the half-consumed corpse of V.C. Andrews, and her son Christopher, who has been a larger disappointment than her last ten books. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bonk bonk on the head
Journalist phones it in on the seal hunt and gets clubbed. Shades of Jayson Blair. ... ... Who? (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Infinite Library
Sounds like the place Pete will go when he dies. Heaven and Hell both. (Heaven cause of the books, Hell cause of the stern librarians... or is that the other way around?)

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in England is the only place you are likely to find an Ethernet port that looks like a book. Built into the ancient bookcases dominating the oldest wing of the 402-year-old library, the brown plastic ports share shelf space with handwritten catalogues of the university’s medieval manuscripts and other materials. Some of the volumes are still chained to the shelves, a 17th-century innovation designed to discourage borrowing. But thanks to the Ethernet ports and the university’s effort to digitize irreplaceable books like the catalogues—which often contain the only clue to locating an obscure book or manuscript elsewhere in the vast library—users of the Bodleian don’t even need to take the books off the shelves. They can simply plug in their laptops, connect to the Internet, and view the pertinent pages online. In fact, anyone with a Web browser can read the catalogues, a privilege once restricted to those fortunate enough to be teaching or studying at Oxford.

(From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

It's like getting screwed at the drive thru... once you're gone, you can't really do anything about it...
Perhaps A Death in the Family isn't what it would have been, had there been no death... in the family. Like I always say: once you're dead, you're so fucked. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Finally, someone does public poetry right...

After last year's episode of Canadian poets being turned into street mimes, I read this and realize, it can be done right. It just needs to have no self-interest involved; something foreign to so many of the poets who'd be drawn to this kind of public spectacle.

He writes them as well. But McIlvoy — who calls himself Mack — never reads his own work. Instead, on an average day, he'll read 40 poems by contemporary stylists such as John Updike, Billy Collins, Rebecca Bagget and Heather McHugh.

McIlvoy is no poetry jukebox. He reads poems he likes. Sometimes he'll even offer to feed a listener's parking meter to win a few more moments. He takes the occasional request, like from the woman who asks: "Hey, you got something to do with wisdom? I need a wisdom fix."

There's no artistic pretense to McIlvoy's poetry performances — no pseudo-beatnik berets or bohemian dress. He drives a decidedly un-hip white Oldsmobile with Illinois plates his grandmother willed him. He wears Oxford shirts, and his hair is cut schoolboy short. Many people assume he's a missionary.

Okay, it's a maudlin public interest piece and he'll never read one of my poems (see his criteria for making the list), but I love him for doing it, the little kipper. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The mother load!
Essential Fonts for Designers. I'd hoard it for myself, but Pete would smother me in my sleep (he already steals all the blankets...) (From Incoming Signals) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

Wouldn't it be nice?
Marjane Satrapi wants all the secular people to live in their own country (Salon link). I think this would be a nice idea. Right up until the crazy fundys invaded us and nailed us to Clear Channel billboards to spead their message of love.

If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it's that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don't know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Aimee Bender talks about her penis
And writing and language and blah blah blah.

I don't think it's penis envy, really, as much as some strange identification with men at a given moment. There's something aggressive about writing to me, and women can be aggressive, of course, but sometimes I do associate that quality more with men and then voila! The characters have penises.

That's what happened to me! (From the Rake) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The fine art of Chinese calligraphy
OK, I can't even remember how to write with a pen, let alone do this.

It has been said that to really appreciate something one must take part in it, a maxim Mr. Yu staunchly believes. As a highly acclaimed calligrapher, he has spent years teaching students this traditional art form in his home-turned-studio, and maintains that in addition to its inherent beauty, calligraphy stimulates abstract and spatial thinking, instills a sense of discipline and cultivates refinement in both a moral and intellectual sense.

Well, that explains it then. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

I had a dream
George Saunders reflects on his start as a writer and his relationship with stories. There's also something about theme parks....

Because there are several different levels of the imagination. There's "I am now imagining a hippo jumping over a house"; that's kind of crazy. But if you stick with that image, and then start working on it day after day after day, suddenly things sprout that you couldn't ever have imagined at the beginning. The story is in a sense an answer to itself; it's talking back to you all the time.

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


When are Canadian readers going to readathon Sam Slick?
The Spanish read Don Quixote in relay for 48 hours non-stop.

Some participants read in other languages than Spanish to emphasise the universal appeal of “Don Quixote”. Excerpts were read in Latin, Arabic, Hebrew and Greek as well as 18 languages spoken in the European Union.

Blind readers used editions in braille to take part.

This just sounds so exciting; can you imagine Canadians getting it up for a marathon of reading? I want this, I really do. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Nancy Drew's tits just got pointier
I wish they made bras like this for real; then we could all be super sleuths and Wonderwomen. Nancy goes Manga with the new and not yet available at Amazon.ca The Demon of River Heights.

Also getting a makeover: The Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe are starring in their own new graphic novel series from Papercutz, starting with "The Hardy Boys: The Ocean of Osyria," also in stores.

Unfortunately the earnest fellows will not be wearing tights. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Taking matters into your own hands

Self-publishing can be good or bad, depending. Hm. Sounds like not self-publishing.

The difference between traditional vanity presses and modern print-on-demand publishing is essentially technology. Instead of expensive offset printing, which mainstream publishers use, print-on-demand relies on a glorified digital printer. The top three self-publishers -- AuthorHouse, iUniverse and Xlibris, based in Philadelphia -- all use the technology, and introduced a total of 11,906 new titles last year, according to R. R. Bowker's Books in Print database. By contrast, one of the few remaining old-style vanity presses, the 56-year-old Vantage Press in New York, produces between 300 and 600 titles a year.

Meanwhile, for as little as $459, iUniverse will turn a manuscript into a paperback with a custom cover design, provide an International Standard Book Number -- publishing's equivalent of an ID number to place the book in a central bibliographic database -- and make it available at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers. (Vantage charges anywhere from $8,000 to $50,000 for a limited quantity of copies, some owned by the author and the rest warehoused by Vantage.)
Unfortunately, aspiring writers eager to believe that a publisher has chosen them can also be led astray. Last year more than 130 writers petitioned the attorney general of Maryland and other government agencies to investigate PublishAmerica, a print-on-demand company in Frederick, Md., which describes itself as a ''traditional publishing company'' on its Web site.

The authors say they were duped when they signed contracts with the company, because it is actually a vanity press. In press accounts and in promotions to its writers, the company has maintained that it is highly selective. But Dee Power, an Arizona writer in the forefront of the petition campaign, questions that claim. She says PublishAmerica accepted a bogus manuscript from her that repeated the same 10 pages eight times and changed the main characters' names halfway through. She and other writers say they were shocked by the sloppy editing of their manuscripts and falsely led to believe that stores would stock their books. (The government agencies have so far declined to investigate.)

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Examining the Oprah backlist
Here's an interesting piece in which someone reads all 43 Oprah-blessed titles and does some analysis on why there's such disdain for the bookclub.

Rooney notes the vast majority of the titles won favorable reviews when they were released. Of the 43 fiction titles, 31 received reviews in the New York Times Book Review - all but six positive. It was only after Oprah chose them that they came under attack.

And hand it to Rooney for not being willing to take the books' quality on faith. She read all 43, except for five she pronounces "unreadable." Five more she found "plain awful" but compelling enough to complete. The rest were good, she writes, even great.

So why did the books come under so much criticism? The question goes to the core of our perceptions about culture and art. Oprah, Rooney posits, found herself caught in an ongoing unease in America between highbrow and lowbrow culture generally summed up as: If a huge number of people appreciate something, can it really be art?

As much as I use Oprah as a rubber chicken around here, I've coincidentally read several of the titles on her list and loved every one I've read. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Chicago: writers' town
Chicago newspaper highlights Chicago. And just in time, too. Dr Von Moribund! Halt the DestructoRay's countdown and reposition. Coordinates: Boise, Idaho. (discuss) (Posted by George)

George Bowering not prolific? Are we thinking of the same guy?
Has the world gone topsy-turvy?? I'm having trouble breathing here, people... Somebody catch me if I faint dead away.

Canada's first parliamentary poet was no Shakespeare -- he penned only two poems during his two-year stint. George Bowering was paid $12,000 plus a $10,000 travel allowance each year to write poems and promote the art of verse. He finished his two-year mandate as poet laureate late last year with 87 lines under his belt.

(Actually, didn't he have a terrible accident during that time? I seem to remember something about him breaking both his legs or something. That would put a damper on your output. Hell, if I'm having a bad hair day I can't get anything done...) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Why is Jorie Graham so damn popular?
The dreamy David Orr asks how one gets "made" in the world of poetry.

In this uncertain atmosphere, Graham is a uniter, not a divider. For one thing, she's nice. In interviews, Graham comes off as kindhearted and eager to praise -- the sort of person you'd want as a colleague or mentor. She has friendly words for avant-gardists like Susan Howe; friendly words for formalists like Anthony Hecht; and friendly words for her tribe of former students (''I love all of them,'' she says, and it must be true, because they show up with remarkable frequency as winners of the many contests she judges). Moreover, as Shelley might say, if Graham fell upon the thorns of life, she'd blurb. A typical Graham book plug is so rhapsodic and inscrutable (one blurbee has ''an ear so finely tuned it cannot but register all the finest, filamentary truths the eye discerns'') that it practically yodels Poooeeetrrry! Which doesn't mean she's insincere. As Graham puts it, ''There are very few poets whose work doesn't, someplace in its enterprise, stun me.'' Poooeeetrrry!

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Cult of Supermen
A roundup of comic book heroes. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... The Patriarchy!
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Dowry...

A study of both parents of primary school children and women who have been involved in domestic abuse claims than those who grew up reading fairy tales are likely to be more submissive as adults.

Mind you, I've tried to change my share of bad girls, and I can tell you from experience, they just don't get any badder, no matter how hard you try. (discuss) (Posted by George)

British schools giving up classics
Old people plotzing. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I am so going to eat read this
And I say that in the tone of voice I used as I sat for a moment before my plate of saffron rice, butter chicken and sag paneer tonight. Yum.

In the same vein, Ishiguro’s new book, Never Let Me Go, is narrated by Kathy H., a young woman looking back on her life at an idyllic English prep school called Hailsham. Set in the recent past, it is equal parts elegy, detective story and, in some respects, dystopic teen novel. Slowly, we learn that the special, almost elitist upbringing shared by Kathy and her two closest friends — two other points in a love triangle — was perhaps a simulacrum of life. (Warning: it is difficult to discuss this book in any depth without revealing a half-cloaked plot secret, so if you fear spoilers, don’t read on.) Kathy and her parentless peers are “donors ” (Ishiguro’s word) or “clones” (anyone else’s). Bred to save the rest of us by handing over their organs and dying young, they are an abstract debate made flesh.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Shakespeare a fake
You can tell by the moustache. Only a total poseur would wear a lip broom like that. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Crime writers awards
Short list announced. Personally, I'm waiting for the "It's a Crime They're Writers Awards"... And the nominees are... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Nation's bullies miss chance to tilt gene pool back in their favour...
Star Wars convention draws thousands of like-minded nerds. Fortunately, a concurrent nearby convention of lantern-jawed morons with violent self-esteem issues was kept behind just long enough for the herd-o-nerds to escape to their landspeeders. (discuss) (Posted by George)


New in letters
George Bowering's tenure as Poet Laureate defended. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Guantanamo Bay poet is released
So it is true; the truth will set you free. Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost helped his fellow prisoners in Cuba by writing poetry on papercups and handing it around. Falsely accused, and now four years later released, Dost has only one request -- that US authorities return his work.

At first, deprived of paper and pen, Dost memorized his best lines or scribbled them secretly on paper cups. Later, he was supplied with writing materials and made up for lost time by producing reams of poems and essays -- only to have all but a few of the documents confiscated by the U.S. government upon his release.

"Why did they give me a pen and paper if they were planning to do that?" Dost asked last week with evident anguish. "Each word was like a child to me -- irreplaceable."

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Literacy in the Arab world
A polemic article on education in the Arab countries; it's all a little frightening, folks:

Sadly, the bottom spot of the literacy rate, according to the EFA report 2003-4 was reserved for no other than Iraq, a country that was once recognised for being a Third World model of development. Along with Cuba, Iraq once offered universal education and health coverage. Now, following 15 years tainted by crippling sanctions, unjustified and bloody war, and a self-consumed and brutal occupation only 39.3 per cent of Iraqis can read.

What's the statistical figure measuring poverty against anger I wonder? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Move over, Oprah
The Afro Puff Girls Book Club is way cool.

Twelve young ladies (ages six to eleven) of the prestigious Afro Puff Girls Book Club expressed with excitement how the Princess Briana fairytale (bestselling children’s book of 2004 at Karibu, a major black bookstore chain) inspired them to read and improved their self-esteem. The very mission of the book club is to select books that entertain, enlighten and plant seeds of wisdom, which is exactly what Princess Briana did for these ladies. The fairytale teaches several valuable lessons about self-love and acceptance. The coordinator of the book club, Tracey Ward, said, “When we first got Princess Briana, they were so excited and most of them read it that same day. Last year when we started the book club it took them forever to read the chosen book and it was a really cool book. However with Princess Briana, they loved the pictures and they loved the storyline.”

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Montreal world book capital this year

This following a very successful year as Capital City of Unfiltered Smoke Blown in the Faces of Non-Smokers. Montreal: a city on the... grow...? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Salman waxing lyrical on books
He's getting soft.

To hate a book is only to confirm to oneself what one already knows, or thinks one knows. But the power of books to inspire both love and hate is an indication of their ability to make alterations in the fabric of what is.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Early Ginsberg recording donated
What might be the first recording of Ginsberg reading Howl has been donated to a university. Modern editing techniques have allowed curators to remove the sound of Ginsberg's hair growing from the tracks, making the entire product two and half minutes shorter. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I'm pretty sure I coined that term a few years back. I also invented the comma, light on sunflowers, and the word "wholphin".

Both e-pistolary and epistolary novels reflect a shift in the culture -- new technology for e-mail books, an increase in literacy, and by extension letter writing, during the 18th century. And interestingly, two of the greatest epistolary novels, Pamela (1740), the very first example, and Clarissa (1748) both written by Samuel Richardson, concern the romantic and sexual lives of a young heroine -- much like modern e-pistolary books.

Susan Swan's Stupid Boys Are Good to Relax With did this years ago. Years! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Golems and trolls and spectres of the past
Dennis Loy Johnson of Mobylives rolls up his sleeves and does some of his trademark digging to get the other side of the Michael Chabon / Paul Maliszewski Holocaust affair. Compelling stuff. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Thrown on the fire

Good books endangered in Britain?

Today's corporate weather-makers hate "book-lovers", as they sneeringly refer to them. They despise curious readers committed to the range and quality of what they buy, such as those who bother with books coverage in intelligent magazines or newspapers such as this. Instead, extra resources will now go into snaring the fitful attention of affluent but apathetic semi-readers who, deep down, believe that, in the deathless words of Philip Larkin's "A Study of Reading Habits", "Books are a load of crap." Ah, but those non-readers made an exception for The Da Vinci Code. So let's have much more of the same brain-shrinking junk. What was it that Bradbury's firemen burnt? Good books, of course.

It appears the "alarm" in alarmism comes in stereo. Both left and right use it quite well. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Intimate portraits
Your favourite superheroes are keeping blogs. Who wouldn't want to know about what Aquaman is thinking?

Aquaman here, nothing much to write about. Been doing some light reading, i will say the weather has been quite amazing.

My Blog has been visited by Dr henry mccoy of the X men. I Must say I have enjoyed your work and have linked you to my page. it just goes to show you that Dc and Marvel people can cohabitate with each other without getting nasty.

So take that Sub Mariner.

I'm waiting for Storm's punk days blog. Brrrowr. (Some very fun commentary on the blog form here.) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Empowering Bowering
The letters defending former poet laureate George Bowering from accusations of ... stuff... continue to come in. Poet John Degen (one of my personal favourites) writes in questioning comments made by MP Pat Martin. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Atwood finding Atwood
Margaret Atwood reminisces about her early days on the European youth trail.

Fleeing a personal life of Gordian complexity, and leaving behind a poetry manuscript rejected by all, and a first novel ditto, I scraped together what was left after a winter of living in a Charles Street rooming-house and writing tours-de-force of undiscovered genius while working by day at a market research company, borrowed $600 from my parents, who were understandably somewhat nervous about my choice of the literary life by then, and climbed onto a plane.

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

Reagan's memoirs

How ironic. Apparently the first pages are doodles of guys farting little clouds, poorly drawn likenesses of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and what might limericks about GHW Bush's retarded son. The last pages are much more interesting and tasteful. (discuss) (Posted by George)

AS Byatt
Profiled in the Toronto Star. (discuss) (Posted by George)

"Poet" banned from class
And not just for writing a terrible poem. Apparently the professor is taking what he's written as a serious threat to the welfare of her family.

The student, Edward Bolles, said his poem entitled "Professor White," was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization. In it, a Mexican student named Juan has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.

Bolles' professor, Kelly Ritter, found the poem "disturbing," according to an April 8 campus police report, and said she believed the poem was a threat. University officials prohibited Bolles, who is Mexican, from attending his poetry class while he was investigated.

I don't know how I feel about this. With their history of arguing in class and the content, it seems there is some sort of purposeful coincidence of creativity and reality there. Why this metaphor and why now? Whether or not he realizes it, is he making comment on the individual relationship as well as the political one? I don't know. (From Moby) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees author profiled (buzzing for her new book The Mermaid Chair). (discuss) (Posted by George)

The first thirds of great literature
They slay me every time. My dream job is to work for them. Oh, and what I'm doing now. I love it.

Malcolm Seward is a 38-year-old commercial kitchen designer, baseball fan, and avid supporter of public radio, but he said there's nothing he likes better than hunkering down in a comfortable chair, cracking open a brand-new copy of one of the world's literary classics, and reading the first 100 pages or so.

And of course there's: "National Poetry Month Raises Awareness Of Poetry Prevention". I'm a natural for the position, don't you think? (discuss) (Posted by George)


Bookninja in the news: You think it's a time sink for you??
A nice CBC article examining the allure of litblogs that provide a sense of community to often isolated misanthropes who might otherwise resort to Peeping Tomism to feel a connection to other humans.

Bookninja began as a way for friends across the country to stay in touch, share links to articles of common interest, tease one another, etc., but rather quickly it became much more than that. George Murray, a Toronto-based poet who, with Vancouver novelist Peter Darbyshire, started the blog in August 2003, says that they now attract somewhere between 700 and 1,000 users every weekday, maxing out at upwards of 2,000 people on days one of the 'Ninja contributors appears in the media. Considering the fact that many small magazines would kill for that many readers in a month, it’s an enormous accomplishment. And almost all of it is done on a volunteer basis: the two original bloggers, plus newcomer Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, contribute for free; they pay reviewers and essayists. But the really amazing thing is that despite catering to a population for whom solitude is a job requirement, they’ve managed to create a community.

I love you guys. I really do. Here. Here's a cyber noogie. Rub yerself on the noggin once for me. Okay, twice. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Choy wins Trillium
The winners announced. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Toronto's trodden-upon poetry
Remember that announcement that they planned to stamp poetry into the concrete in Toronto, god bless their souls? Well, now someone has unleashed upon the world the inner poet of 15 city councillors. I shudder, with both appreciative laughter and the teensiest hint of revulsion. I usually feel that way when inner poets become outer poets.

The heartbeat of our city
Pulse in time the steps of urban dwellers
Keep communities alive.
- Olivia Chow, Trinity-Spadina

Hey! That's pretty good! Some of them, like Olivia (my favourite councillor), seem to have actually tried too! Good on ya! (discuss) (Posted by George)

B.C.: "the literary Madagascar"

Apparently B.C.'s relative isolation from centres of literary power have allowed it to develop a unique and independent publishing culture. How about "the literary kangaroo" or "the literary platypus"? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Are bookstores killing America's literary future?
Very good essay on the damage the bookstore chain is causing in the literary world.

The nature of this crisis is actually fairly simple. Writers can only publish what book publishers are willing to buy from them. And book publishers, in turn, can only publish what bookstores are willing to buy. In the past, there were literally thousands of independent bookstores across the country, each deciding for itself which books to buy from publishers. A large number of these stores, in fact, were dedicated to selling the works of emerging writers, to taking a chance on an unknown name. Thus, there was a market for a great variety of literature.

Today, however, the landscape has changed. Three bookstore chains control three-fourths of all book sales. Each of these chains has only one or two people in charge of buying books from publishers. Instead of thousands of independent buyers looking for books, there are now only five book purchasers who determine which books are sold in the vast majority of the nation’s bookstores. Publishers who cannot sell to these five buyers are now more than ever finding themselves in financial dire straits. And thus, writers who are trying to express a vision that doesn’t appeal to these buyers are finding themselves without publishers. The rise of book superstores, in short, has threatened the literary life of our country. In a world where publishers are being forced to determine the worth of a book by the number of copies it can sell instead of its inherent merit, the outlets for authors of serious literature are dwindling. As the type of books being bought by bookstores (and thus the type of books that get published) become more and more based on mass-market appeal, literary innovation will inevitably decline.

(Thanks, Dan) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Runaway train

Interview with our bloggie grandparents, Dennis Loy Johnson and Valerie Meirans of MobyLives and Melville House Books fame. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Translation: good idea
A new effort to highlight works in translation seems long overdue.

In an innovative effort to raise the visibility of literature in translation, two nonprofit literary presses and a small indie house have formed an alliance with two corporate imprints to coordinate a special promotional display called Reading the World, which launches May 1 at about 80 independent bookstores.

Each participating store will display a total of 10 works in translation—two each from Dalkey Archive Press, Archipelago Books, New Directions, FSG and Knopf/Pantheon—and will stock about five copies of each title. Posters with an image donated by children's illustrator Peter Sís and brochures produced and paid for by the publishers also support the effort, which will run for all of May, dubbed World in Translation Month by the writer's organization PEN.

More on translation here. (First link submitted by "Jannytann", second link from PFW) (discuss) (Posted by George)

National poetry month at Slate
A rundown of the Slate poetry articles. (From PFW) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Slang, yo

Maud points us to several neato slang links. I just wish I'd thought of "Kung Fu Monkey". (discuss) (Posted by George)


Christ on a stick
Well, on a whole family tree actually. Apparently, some 17th century layman researched Jesus's genealogy and compiled an extensive manuscript about it. What I find weird is that no one is considering that Mr. Spenser might have been a crazed, narcissistic, religious fanatic. But then, I guess that makes sense from the auctioneer's perspective. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

All of life's a stage
New book by Guantanamo Bay translator (Inside the Wire by Sgt. Erik Saar) details the length to which US security went to stage interrogational hoaxes. This is America imitating Hollywood imitating America at its best and simultaneously at its very very worst.

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has led the legal challenge of detainees' imprisonment and alleged abusive interrogation techniques, said Saar's claims support lawyers' suspicions that the official tours of Guantanamo were phony.

"They couldn't show people what they were really doing, because what they were really doing was illegal and inhumane," Ratner said. "It's such a fraud. It reminds me of the special concentration camps set up in World War II. They would take the Red Cross there to see there was an orchestra and all sorts of nice things."

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Writer, publisher, interior decorator?
Barry Callaghan and Claire Weissman Wilks edit Morley in their Rosedale digs.

As for most of his father's stuff, Mr. Callaghan has done something very unusual. He took his father's old study (where he long wrote, at more of a radiator cover than a proper desk) and filled it with his parents' family and professional remembrances. He added dark floral retro wallpaper, a striking red Venetian chandelier, and hung the portraits of Morley and Loretta taken in Paris and here at home on the same porch that Mr. Callaghan and Ms. Weissman Wilks love so much today...

"When I first finished this room," says Mr. Callaghan, "someone came in and said, 'Wow, a shrine; your life must be really overwhelmed by Morley.' I said, 'No, you're missing the point, I've banished him to here.'

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Steve Jobs: iKnob

Apple, as part of their new campaign to compete with Microsoft, continue to be major dickheads. I wish someone would ban my book. It's trash, I tell you! Think of the children! The only honourable thing to do here is to ban my book and make me a millionaire. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Poetry Sweatshop
Znaimer + poetry = what? Greasy poetry? (discuss) (Posted by George)

The unthinkable has happened

We are running out of Shakespeare. High school students everywhere fall to the earth, apoplectic with glee. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Literary Map of Manhattan
At last, a map I can understand!

I began thinking about this map years ago while reading Don DeLillo's ''Great Jones Street.'' Bucky Wunderlick gazes out the window of his ''small crowded room'' at the firehouse across the street. I realized: there's only one firehouse on that street and few buildings that contain tiny apartments rather than commercial lofts. I know where Bucky Wunderlick lives. Or would live if he existed. He's got to be at No. 35. Knowing this made walking around the neighborhood like walking through the novel. But I walked without a map. Shouldn't there be a map of imaginary New Yorkers?

A rent-controlled apartment goes to the first person who pinpoints Bartleby's address. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Is the Web killing newspapers?
Or is it making them stronger?

Nowadays, news consumers have an almost unlimited choice. They don't sit down with a newspaper for an hour to read it cover to cover. Instead, they bounce from site to site, story to story, link to link, customizing their newsgathering experience, clicking on whatever stories from whatever publications appeal to them. They don't stick around long, but they do visit. It may be difficult for newspapers to figure out how to make money on them, but that doesn't mean that consumers don't find the product appealing. People haven't been abandoning newspapers (and magazines). They have been abandoning the print medium.

So it's just killing layout people like me. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Hey, it worked for Harlequin
When I was younger, I worked the night shift at a grocery store. Like the rest of my co-workers, I ate a lot of food for free -- this is why I always test the seals on pickle jars before I buy them. This worked out well, because I was always broke from buying books -- unlike my co-workers. Imagine how much easier life would have been if that grocery store had also sold books.

Supermarkets, long the domain of paperback romances, pulp thrillers and astrology guides, are the new frontier of book selling. Chains like Wegmans, Kroger and Albertsons have greatly expanded their book sections, adapting the techniques that move large amounts of Velveeta and Count Chocula and applying them to Nora Roberts and John Grisham.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Weekend Edition:

If they'd only changed two letters, they could have made a fortune.

It's 1969; the phone is the medium and the poem is the message. Dial-A-Poem is brand-new. You pick up your phone, dial (212) 628-0400 and hear one of a dozen recorded poems by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Joe Brainard, Anne Waldman, John Cage or who knows who. The next day there's a fresh dozen. Some are dirty. Some are radical. A lot are about guns. Some really aren't poems at all but songs or rants or sermons.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Fan covers
Chuck Palahniuk's fans keep sending in their own versions of covers to his books. Some of them are damned good, including the ones for his new book, Haunted, which isn't even out yet.

"People have been sending me covers they've done for art school projects since about 1999," Palahniuk says. "I'm really impressed with the quality of the work.

"This is the first generation that has grown up with these incredible tools," he says, referring to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, design software once available only to professionals.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



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