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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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August 2005:



"Canadians love Don Cherry but genuflect to Margaret Atwood, even if they never read her"
Amen, brother Marchand. We're a peaceful country, but we love shining our canon. Is it time to open it up and maybe fire off a few rounds? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ethnic Writer "A" at Important Festival "B" meets Important Writers "C", "D", "E", and "FU"
What's it like to be the token race card in at white game of literary poker? What's it like when your ace of race in the hole becomes a deuce? Marie Myung–Ok Lee entertains us at Moby. Very funny piece. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Cast it into the fire!
Frodo Baggins, ABD. (Thanks to Lady Ninja, keeper of The Ring. The heavy heavy fucking ring...) (discuss) (Posted by George)

August in August
Kleinzahler profiled in the NYT. (The most important thing about this article is that it mentions the Griffin Prize three times without calling it Canadian! The award done come up! The best thing that can happen to an honour is that is sheds its nation or origin. Like how the Nobel has left those chocolate clockmakers back in the chalet.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Climbing Mount Slushmore
Are publishers waking up to the potential of the slush pile, or are they simply looking for missing staff members last assigned to write a few rejection letters in the "room of papery death"? (discuss) (Posted by George)

A million Potter links
Well, not really, but it feels like it. When will it end? Maybe if we're lucky John Irving will axe murder someone by summer's end and we can get some other book news.

I'm sure there are about twenty more I'm missing... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bookcrossing, guvnah
Bookcrossing gets some London press. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Drunk and Unpublished
Both probably for good reason. But this is kind of cute. They're such pushovers. Not like the entitled street mime poets up here. Push the envelope boys! Get yerselves arrested. Spit in the eye of the man! (God, I wish that Walmart manager was the head of programming for the idiots at WestJet up here...) (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

And Canada?
Best known Brit and Yank literary characters... One can only assume from this list that Anne, Duddy, and one of Farley's dogs would make our list. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)


What's the oldest dated book in existence?
Don't know? Well, how about the oldest comic? The first novel written on a typewriter? These and more brought to you by the good nerds at Metafilter, who also provide a handy link to another rare-manuscript online library. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Return to Arkham
Lovecraft just won't die, will he? Hmm.... (From Boing Boing) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

When novelists attack
The TV world is all abuzz with discussions of Over There, a new drama about the Iraq war that depicts the conflict as it happens. It aspires to be sort of a docudrama that avoids politics. Uhh.... Meanwhile, novelists skip the big events themselves and instead focus on the impact of terrorism and the wars on society. I suppose I should make some comment about the mediums, but what would be the point?

Written after 9/11 but before 7/7 meant a thing, Ian McEwan's novel "Saturday" creates a hero who looks out his window, sees London "waiting for its bomb," and worriedly thinks "rush hour will be a convenient time." Today this fiction may seem as prophetic as Chris Cleave's "Incendiary," published in Britain on 7/7 itself, in which suicide bombers kill hundreds of Londoners in a soccer stadium. But both authors agree that their plots are based on sheer common sense and the awful fulfillment of our fears.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Da Vinci Code film to alter storyline?
To please Christians? My favourite line:

"A lot of people are getting their view of Christianity and the Bible from the book," said Alex McFarland, a speaker and writer for Focus on the Family, an evangelical group.

Yeah, we wouldn't people to get their religion from a book. (discuss)  (Posted by Peter)

Auctioneers pretty sure horns and tail were drawn in later...
A sketch of Ted Hughes done by Sylvia Plath may fetch a pretty penny. I guess that trumps Ted fetching his wooden nickel. I don't even know what that means. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Suicide bomber kiddie book a great idea...
For sales! A novel about a suicide bomber girl (not pictured, one hopes) is burning up the charts at Waterstones. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Blogging your way to the top
Publishers are taking an interest in blogs. Um, isn't this story last year's news? (BTW, anyone who wants to option my daddy blog about my relationship with my son and is willing to pay through the schnozzle for it is welcome to make an offer... email me and I'll send you the link. Don't all stampede now.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Being black in the west
Isn't all about discrimination anymore. Mostly. Some. A bit. ... ... ... There's also publishing! (discuss) (Posted by George)

The dyslexic novelist
A novelist reports on life with dyslexia. (You know I wanted to, but I just couldn't.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Going green
More and more authors are demanding that their publishers use forest-friendly paper. I, on the other hand, am just demanding that my publisher print the pages properly and glue the spines right because, two years in, my books are falling apart. (Um, doesn't forest-friendly paper make about as much sense as fighting for peace?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

He's mad! Mad, I tell you!
Darth Lucas wants to use slave labour in his next video games. This is like the whole Wookies in the Spice Mines of Kessel incident all over again! I swore I wouldn't let it happen then and I won't let it happen now! R2! Ready the hyperdrive and plot a course for... um... destiny? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Speaking of barely coherent nerds...
Sci-fi fans clutter up the streets of Glasgow, where it's getting harder by the day to tell the Mountain Dew-induced acne from the native substance aboose-indooced pockmarks. (discuss) (Posted by George)

"First-Time Novelist Constantly Asking Wife What It's Like To Be A Woman"

"I really don't like when he whips out the notebook and clicks the pen and stares at me." (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bonus link
Do you know about about Foamy? Foul-mouthed little squirrel. Here's the archive. (Click on the second link from the left (OPEN-MIC NIGHT II) in the top row for some literary content.) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Quill awards
Because the bestsellers just aren't getting enough recognition.

Jon Stewart, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Deepak Chopra are among the nominees for the inaugural Quill Awards, which are designed to be a more populist sort of literary prize.

"This is the first consumer-driven awards program that acknowledges the power and importance of the written word and celebrates literacy," Jay Ireland, head of the NBC network, said in a release Thursday.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Raincoast gets terror scare (note: does not involve Dumbledore)
White powder found in a box at Raincoast Books causes two employees to vomit. Turns out to be a mild irritant, and the employees had conflated its presence with their secret-from-the-other-staff reading of the The Da Vinci Code. (discuss) (Posted by George)

High seas adventure gets some ballast
Marlon Brando, mostly famous these days for dying fat and reclusive, wrote most of a novel that some necrophiliacs (you know, the kind who hang around celebrities waiting for them to die) have decided to finish and publish. It's about a fat man and a pirate. Bonzai! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ringy dingy
HarperCollins Oz is going to be sending book info to cell users. This is the kind of thing Lady Ninja uses to damn me for getting us cell phones. We resisted for years and years, but a kid in the big city was too difficult. (I don't know, dear, How did everyone survive before...?) Who wants to be reachable everywhere by FRIENDS much less Rupert Murdoch? (From The Saloon) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Anatomy of a press scandal
Some guy did some thing... terrorists! and there was another paper that wrote something... terror! and then someone with a blog said something nasty and others giggled... meanwhile, the rest of the world slept or didn't. But I know you newsie types might get off on this. (From ALDaily) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Editors beware

Maybe some writers don't want your opinion... Ah, the old Picasso defence. (discuss) (Posted by George)


"Consumers. Not readers. Consumers."
Alex Good comments on the Quill Awards over at GoodReports.

According to a press release these will be the "first consumer-driven awards program that acknowledges the power and importance of the written word and celebrates literacy." This is puzzling. How can a consumer-driven awards program acknowledge anything but the power of consumers? The release must mean the economic importance of the written word and the profits of literacy, but it's a nice fudge.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

In related news: what are the famous people reading?
The Observer asks a clutch of famous and quasi-famous people what they are reading. Highlights include Franzen gives n+1 (a great journal) the courtesy of a reach around, Harold Bloom taking the opportunity to plug three of his own books, and the fact that Heather Hunter can spell, much less read at all. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Cooking the books
Jessa Crispin makes the Book Standard fun to read. Who'd have thunk it? Just kidding. It'
s all fun. Here she talks about the evils of poorly edited cookbooks. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Niche publishing
Even literary ninjas get their own website these days. But the magazine scene is even crazier. Have you seen that Canadian magazine that's so niche it's almost invisible? It's for intelligent, articulate people with a penchant for eclectic, well-written articles. I can't remember the name. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Unfortunate childrens books
I don't see Love You Forever in this Flickr set. And that's the creepiest book for children ever written. Well, that a those illustrated Bibles the JoHos give out. Woof. (From BoingBoing) (disucss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

Type Week past
I was browsing through Design Observer today and discovered I missed Type Week in New York.

Mr. Shaw, bearded, with long graying hair and the zeal of the Ancient Mariner, led his followers at a furious pace from the Guggenheim all the way down to Madison Square Park, dipping in and out of the subway, where he showed examples of weird serifs in the tile work (the serifs on the middle bars of the "e's" on signs along the Lexington line lean from left to right, an odd variation that seems to connote speed), and revealed little-known subterranean typographical mistakes.

"Some of the 'h's' in the Borough Hall station in Brooklyn are upside down," he said. "The crossbar is in the wrong position. I think the workers had a drawing from the engineer, but - hey - they're working with tile and sometimes they were one line off."

At times on Thursday, passers-by would stop and stare, too, trying to figure out what all these serious-looking people were looking at. In front of Public School 6, a man paused, squinted at the red door and its seemingly prosaic inscription and then shook his head.

"Is there supposed to be something special here?" he asked.

I also discovered that Steve Jobs attributes the success of Macs to typography. Which doesn't explain the horrible fonts of Appleworks. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Editors: an endangered species?
Or already dead?

The years 1912 to 1925 seem to have been the golden age of editing. Most of the publishers I've talked to, both young and old, say it's impossible to do such editing today. However diligent you are, the sheer speed at which books have to be pushed through prevents it. These days you have to be an all-rounder, involved with promotion, publicity and sales - all of which are crucial but mean that when a writer is trapped in a wrong book you don't have the time to sit down together and find a way out. One editor spoke of a colleague who had managed to do brilliant work purely because, having small children, she was allowed to do most of her work at home; were she in the office all day, having to attend meetings and fend off phone-calls, she'd never manage it.

Meanwhile, most people say the real editing of books is now done by agents, since agents offer authors stability, whereas publishers' editors are nomadic, moving from house to house.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Penguin takes a page out of Apple's... Wait, that analogy doesn't work at all....

Penguin’s new “Hot Shots” sampling program—aimed at stimulating backlist sales—will distinguish itself from similar competitive efforts by pricing, packaging and length, the company has announced. And the inspiration for the new offering? Apple’s ubiquitous iPod.

Hot Shots will debut in stores September 27, featuring six titles from Nora Roberts (as well as mystery pseudonym J.D. Robb); Jane Castle; Christine Feehan; Sherrilyn Kenyon; and Maggie Shayne. Each title will be a very manageable 92 to 128 pages of material (all of which will have been previously available, but only in anthologies) and will carry an easy-to-swallow $2.99 list price.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Uncovering the world
While some people argue nonfiction best explains the madcap world of today (see link a few posts down), others are turning to detective fiction to learn about the world.

detective novels are usually easier to read, and now, to a greater extent than ever before, they're shedding light about the world outside the United States and Britain.

By far, the biggest successes on the international mystery front are the best-selling novels about a charming female sleuth in Botswana ("The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" and others) written by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. But reviewers and readers are also raving about detective series set in Sweden, Canada, Spain, and Italy. Such unexpected locales as Bosnia, Algiers, and the Himalayas also serve as bases for fictional detectives. Some of their escapades are landing on American bookshelves, thanks to English translations.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Jonathem Lethem's bargain bin
Free stories on the website. Just follow the flashing blue light to your bargains.
 (Posted by Peter)

Best year for fiction?
A former Booker judge, as part of the press buildup to the award, announces that this year past was the best for Brit-fiction (Bricttion?) since the award launched. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Not computers, books!
The book fetishists strike back. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Naipaul profiled
V.S., seen here sporting the Ondaatje squint, is profiled in the NYT. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The dwindling fiction in magazines
In a spin-off essay from the Naipaul article above, Rachel Donadio asks whether the slow disappearance of fiction from magazines is reflecting a new social reality or creating one. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Is Bret Easton-Ellis misappropriating himself?
In an NYT profile, we find America's bad-boy once again riding the line between autobiography and fiction with Lunar Park. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sci-fi round up
Aside from the fact that it begins with a grossly inaccurate statement, it's nice to see sci-fi being reviewed in the NYT, even if it is a jam-em-all-in omnibus. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Cleared by everyone but the church
Thank God Dan Brown is safe. One copyright lawsuit down... how many to go? (discuss) (Posted by George)

On the screen
On the Road is coming to the big screen. Apparently, they're just going to feed the manuscript into a projector and see what they get. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Reading vs the suicide rate
A new literacy programme aimed at young Natives on isolated reserves is working against abnormally high suicide rates. (discuss) (Posted by George)

What makes a good memoir?
Good memories? No, a good writer.

The well-written memoir is, however, an enduring class of good book, one that is less favoured by the common reader than it used to be, but one that can, when done well, raise a flag for literary endeavour and artful honesty. It might appear that the memoir has been tarnished by association with all those lying autobiographies, most often written by ghosts and published in the name of celebrities barely out of Pampers. Those books aren't just ghosted, they are haunted, sending a chill of cynicism along their spines and leaving even the discerning reader of trash cowering in fear.

Um, chill, dude. Point taken, but it's a newspaper article about memoirs, not a prose poem. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Attack of the podcast people
In what seems to me a fantastic idea, Laurel Snyder is interviewing Jewish authors over at Nextbook and publishing the recordings as podcasts. For you Luddites, that means you can download them as mp3s and listen to them on your ubiquity machines. It's about time the literary scene began to catch up with the kiddies. Up, Shalom Auslander on Leonard Michaels. Upcoming, Jonathan Rosen on Henry Roth. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Paper apologizes for review
A John Irving review is apologized for. Um, I don't see Irving apologizing for making us read the book. (discuss) (Posted by George)

RIP: Peter Jennings
The Canadian voice of America, dead of lung cancer at 67. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Now there's something you don't see every day...
A literary agent involved in an S&M relationship is murdered while chained up. Even I can't find anything funny about this. It's all too disturbing. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Roberto Bolano
Dead Chilean profiled in the NYT. (discuss) (Posted by George)

And because I believe you need to see this in order to be a good writer...
A shark killed by an octopus. (From Incoming Signals) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Professor Idol
C'mon, you knew it was just a matter of time.

First there was the singing contest Pop Idol. Then came spinoffs like Canadian Idol and American Idol. Now comes a series that could very well have been dubbed Professor Idol.
The aim of the show, which will air on TVOntario, is not to find the best singer; instead, the producers are scouring Ontario to find the best teacher in the province's post-secondary school system.

Also in the works, an academic version of Punk'd: Sessional Work! (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Man Booker long list announced
A lot of big names. I would not want to be a bookie for this one. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Is Abebooks the new Google?
They're certainly treating their employees like it.

Recently, everyone at Abebooks Inc. of Victoria knocked off a little early to watch Napoleon Dynamite, the nerdy comedy that has attracted a cult following among younger movie viewers.

Occasionally, a road-hockey game breaks out in the parking lot. At times, employees of the on-line bookseller abandon their keyboards for a fast match of foosball in the lounge.

It's a work-hard, play-hard culture that recently won Abebooks the distinction of being named one of Canada's "best employers for young bucks" in the 2005 edition of Canada's Top 100 Employers, published by Toronto-based Mediacorp Canada Inc.

I wish I were still a young buck.... (from Quill) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

E-books with expiration dates are coming to campus
Meanwhile, Boing Boing's Corey Doctorow suddenly combusts in the cranial region, then explodes into a million copyright-nerdy pieces.

Alongside the new and used versions of Dante's "Inferno" and "Essentials of Psychology" will be little cards offering 33 percent off if students decide to download a digital version of a text instead of buying a hard copy.

That's not a bad deal for a cash-strapped student facing book bills in the hundreds of dollars. But there are trade-offs. The new digital textbook program imposes strict guidelines on how the books can be used, including locking the downloaded books to a single computer and setting a five-month expiration date, after which the book can't be read.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

The Shakespeare Code
Is Shakespeare riddled with hidden Catholic messages? Why not? It's riddled with hidden something.
"Such is the calamity of so long life" - what does that MEAN? (Note to earnest readers looking for a chance to flex your BA: I know what it means, I'm just trying to entertain you. But it's 6:18am and I have to keep uncrossing my eyes.) The real story here is: Macleans is still publishing. (From PFW) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The world is a mysterious place
Mystery novels are slowly entwining themselves into cultures around the world. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Great inventions of all time

Must all bow down before... the waterproof book! At last: I can leave the toilet seat up while the boy roams the house like a book-destroying velociraptor. (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Melville junior
Arrr! For younguns who need a visual introduction to the life of the white whale. Also good for teaching first year students. (Thanks Jim) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Terror scare!
Police searching a backpack find an explosive bestseller. (discuss) (Posted by George)

This is your brain on Arial
A Metafilter thread on the Arial font turns into a major geekfest, with type flying everywhere. A related Metafilter thread considers the resurgence of Blackletter font -- often associated with the Nazis -- in advertising. Think you're geeky enough to join in? Maybe you should take the quiz first. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)


Is nothing sacred?
Mills & Boon, Britain's Harlequin, steps into the real world.

It's Mills & Boon that is changing. It would like to reflect real life a bit more. It is bored of its sexless courtships and happy endings. It is launching a new line, Next - not as in, "Clothing, predominantly navy blue, for the repressed", but as in, "I'm bored of this, Baron. Next!" It will tackle the harder edges of life - cancer, divorce, difficult children, the whole raft of dissatisfaction and weltschmertz that might beset the modern female as she lights some candles, sinks into a bath and, er, does those things that ladies do. Depilates.

But the heroines will still be nurses, right? Please tell me they'll still be nurses. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The first rule about book club
Is you can't opt out of book club.

I tried to cancel the book club membership. It was only then that I realized there wasn't clear information on how to do that. And when I say there wasn't any information, I mean there wasn't a Web address, telephone number or street address on any of the plan's materials to write to the company and cancel.
Finally, when the next book arrived, I never opened the package. Instead, I wrote on the front of it that the company was to never send me another book and that I would refuse to pay for or accept future deliveries.
Well, books still came, and so did the bills.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Booker long list is so good, critic can't find anything wrong with it
Except, you know, a bunch of stuff.

Absolutely no point, of course, in complaining about the quality of the work on display. Four of the 17 here are previous winners. One, JM Coetzee, has additionally picked up a Nobel.

And yet, taken together, they illustrate one of the most depressing truths about modern British fiction: its near-complete thrall to the band of youngish writers who, coming to prominence in the early 1980s, not only ganged up and captured that decade (Evelyn Waugh's phrase about the Auden-Isherwood group in the 30s) but dominated the next 15 years as well, to the exclusion of very much else.

You didn't seriously think there would be no complaining, did you? Come on! They're critics! Not... like...ics. (discuss) (Posted by George)

JK Rowling and the Half-Wit Rumours
JK goes to town dispelling rumours on her (frankly wicked) website. Disintegratus Pressus Malignius! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Anatomy of a first book
Are you almost there, but not quite. This checklist might help. If you strip out the Christian stuff, this practical list can apply to almost any newcomer (huh, isn't that so often the way...). Yes, yes, I know, you're an artiste and you don't think about these things. Right. Are those Ramen noodles done steeping yet? (discuss)
(Posted by George)

OED 2: Chugger in a Greige Pelmet Talks to Her Handy and Walks Her Cockapoo
Slang is part of the update, my droogs. (discuss) (Posted by George)

I always wondered what non-fiction from Mark Leyner would look like
Apparently, it's exactly the kind of manual I need to properly run this site: Why Do Men Have Nipples? Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini. Could someone buy this for me? (discuss) (Posted by George)

But who will watch the watchmen?
A former Booker judge takes issue with the choice of chair for 2005.

This year, I think I may have a right, at least in the case of the panel's chair for 2005, Professor John Sutherland. In 1999, I served as a Booker judge with Professor Sutherland, under the chairmanship of Gerald Kaufman. Not only did Professor Sutherland leak to the press; many Booker jurors do. No: his published account of what we said deviated so far and so brazenly from what happened that two other judges, Shena Mackay and Natasha Walter, felt obliged to write that he had "not only breached the trust of his fellow judges" but strayed "into pure fantasy".
The professor's distorted leaks attributed to us views we never held. He unpleasantly hinted that some judges felt uneasy about the " anti-Zionist sentiments" of Ahdaf Soueif's short-listed novel The Map of Love, a claim that prompted poisonous racist innuendos against Mr Kaufman in the Arabic media. He falsely wrote that no one really liked that year's outstanding winner, J M Coetzee's Disgrace. And he sneered at the exhausting, life-consuming process by saying Coetzee had won merely "a lottery not a literary competition".

All right, now this year's prize is getting interesting. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Want to be in a book but your loved one keeps forgetting to even write you into the acknowledgements page?
Now you can buy your way in with this charity auction by the likes of Stephen King, Dave Eggers and Jonathan Lethem. I've already put top bid in for Lemony Snicket. So back off. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

What's the future of publishing? (Part 28)
Could it be wikipedia?

there are already 10,000 book "modules" being collaboratively written within the pages of Wikipedia. Soon, they will be published under the foundation's banner thanks to a deal with an "on demand" publisher. It could, says Wales, signal a whole new kind of book publishing.
He also urged his hardcore following - the various volunteer "chapter heads" who administer the wiki projects and police the site for copyright violations and mindless vandalism - to go forth and multiply. This is important to Wales because while Wikipedia is becoming a wider movement theoretically open to anyone, only an elite of users actually bother.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Happy Birthday to Us
In one day we three are two. Our first public post was August 13, 2003. Pete and I started things (Kathryn joined us this year, much to our relief) as a way to keep in touch with friends over long distances, and word of mouth has snowballed us into an internationally recognized portal for lit news. The site is read by thousands of people daily: publishing folk, writers, and regular old booklovers. We're now considered one of the best lit news sites in the world, having received kudos and mentions in virtually every major Canadian paper as well as international markets such as the Boston Globe, the Denver Post, New York Newsday, Time Magazine, among others.

The Complete Review says it best:

"Previously outrageously overlooked in this survey because of Bookninja's far-reaching ambit (i.e. we always categorised it as a large literary site that merely incidentally had a weblog), but since 2004 it has easily become one of the leading weblogs, with extensive links and commentary. There's a slight Canadian focus, but coverage ranges far and wide, and there's no question that Bookninja has become a must-visit literary weblog."

Sweet! So, we're looking for ideas for articles, reviews, etc. If you have any, please approach us. We're three very busy people who have less and less time to do this kind of thing. If you're interested in writing for us, or contributing in any way, just drop us a note and we'll get in touch.

Look for ninja-related changes this fall, including a new advertising program providing EXTREMELY affordable space to individual writers promoting individual books. (We've been losing sleep with the guilt of our advertising successes, and you're the one to benefit!)

As a grassroots kind of site, we have mainly our contributors and readers to thank for our success. So thanks for reading and sticking with us all this time, and for coming back day after long gruelling day. And tell your friends thanks too, after you tell them to come visit. (Thanks should also go to the hundreds of other lit blogger types who link to us regularly.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

And some links, because I know you're bored at work and can't really start anything new on a Friday, so you'll spend the day surfing and working on the carpal tunnel thing and dreaming about what you'll do tomorrow
In celebration, I am cutting corners this morning with a Maud Newton-esque link-o-rama.

Have a good weekend all. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

Google Print pauses scanning
Boing Boing has a roundup of responses to Google's attempts to deal with copyright issues and Google Print.

We think most publishers and authors will choose to participate in the publisher program in order introduce their work to countless readers around the world. But we know that not everyone agrees, and we want to do our best to respect their views too. So now, any and all copyright holders – both Google Print partners and non-partners – can tell us which books they'd prefer that we not scan if we find them in a library. To allow plenty of time to review these new options, we won't scan any in-copyright books from now until this November.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Go away go away go away c'mere c'mere c'mere
Globe Books editor Martin Levin reflects on breaking up with books.

But it's more than that. Books, G. and I agreed, are, like songs, aides-mémoire. They remind us of times and places, of who we were and wanted to be and, sometimes, are. Of things that we hoped for and attempted and succeeded and failed at. And beyond the personal, they're iconic. Books you've lived with are synaesthesic (a term I'm reminded of whenever I happen to notice my copy of Coleridge's Biographia Literaria); in effect, they've been absorbed through your pores, a welter of image and sound and colour and even smell. That's why, for we bibliomanes, books are an intoxicant. And it's also why it's often easier to ditch newer books (junior books) than those with which we have a history (senior books).

Remember to clean our your upstairs oven, Martin. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Should house elves be granted human rights?
It's the first Harry Potter convention!

The Potterheads are alive. Two weeks after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth and penultimate book in JK Rowling's series, as the world bites its toenails and prays for the young wizard hero and his lightning-shaped scar, the real devotees have invaded Reading. More than 200 hardcore fans have come from 25 countries for Accio! Britain's first Harry Potter convention. (Accio!, in wizard-speak, means "Come!") They flew to Florida in 2003 for the Nimbus Convention, they broomsticked to Canada last year for Convention Alley, but this year it is the Reading University campus that hosts a three-day orgy of Potter symposia, Potter disputation and pointy hat wearing.

Are Potterheads the latest equivalent of Deadheads? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Denver library removes Spanish comics from shelves
In other news, Spanish-comics sales rise.

About 6,500 "fotonovelas," popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries, have been temporarily recalled from Denver Public Library branches, library spokeswoman Celeste Jackson said on Thursday. The review could be completed by next week.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The problem with book reviewing (Part 8,237)
Slate weighs in on the conflict-of-interest issue surrounding the Washington Post's review of John Irving's new one.

The point of a book review isn't to review worthy books fairly, it's to publish good pieces. Better to assign a team of lively-but-conflicted writers to review a slew of rotten books than a gang of dullards to the most deserving releases of the season. British newspaper book reviews subscribe to the former ethos, often assigning books to the well-known enemies of authors, creating tension and reader interest from the get-go: Can the prejudiced reviewer write against his personal feelings to tell the truth, the readers wonder? Slate adopted this approach when it assigned Michael Isikoff (foe) and Timothy Noah (friend) to review Sidney Blumenthal's The Clinton Wars. The point of the double assignment wasn't to extend extra fairness to Blumenthal, it was to enlighten the reader.

(From Jeff, who is rumoured to be making a comeback) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)


FUCK makes its first appearance in the Canadian Press handbook
In other news, FUCK makes its 315,645th and 315,646th appearances on Bookninja.com. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Strangely, the engine keeps returning only one book when I search for "pigoon"...
Amazon.ca launches its search inside the book feature. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Or like the time I replaced the ink in Dennis Bock's typewriter with napalm... that was fucking hilarious! Keep working on those eyebrows, Den!
Literary hoaxing, profiled. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Hand me m'glasses, youngun... I gots some Danielle Steel to gets thru afore m'stories come on the tely...

Books get bigger as the population gets older.

To make the new books easier to read, publishers increased their height by three-quarters of an inch, to 7½ inches, while keeping the same width, 4¼ inches. The longer page allows publishers to increase the type size by up to a half-point, to 10½ points, and to increase the leading - the space between lines - to 14½ points from about 12. As a result, a page of the new books has about 32 lines, compared with as many as 38 lines in their predecessors.

Fascina-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Posh has never read a book
Shocked silence. Nothing but shocked silence from me. Did she not get the ones I sent her? I drew pictures of us on the beach inside the cover. And what about my ear? I suppose she never got that either... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Das booken blitzkrieg

Canadian book designers invited to compete in German design competition. Ingrid Paulson is the best designer I've ever not met. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Library porn
You know, when I was a kid and I found my way into a stash of a pal's dad's porn collection, as occasionally happened, I always went straight for the books of erotic stories (should they be present... several of my friend's dad's were, shall we say, of a peculiar bent...) instead of the skin mags. In that spirit, I give you the pictureless Penthouse letters of library porn:

To the right of this entrance sits a circulation desk, striking because of a large conveyor system that moves materials overhead and through the ceiling. The library uses RFID tagging throughout its system to manage materials, and the conveyor moves items to an automated sorting room on the second floor (see "Feeding the Beast," below). Behind the desk are aisles filled with materials on hold, accessible to patrons, who can borrow them quickly through self-check. A Learning Center shares the floor; it contains the literacy, English as a second language, and world languages collections.

Oh yeah... Dear Seattle Library, I never would have believed it could happen to me... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Wonder why I'm posting somewhat sporadically these days?
See this document. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Couldn't resist popping in for this one...
Porno magazines rot slower than mainstream rags. This means they will be the last printed matter to decay in the landfills. Archeologists of the future, rejoice! (From BoingBoing) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Yehoshua fêted
Brilliant Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua is awarded a prize in Italy. I haven't read this book but Mr Mani is one of the smartest books I've ever encountered. Yehoshua is slated to win another prize at an unnamed festival in Manatoba, Canada, wherever that is. Anybody out there know anything about this?(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Gatsby on auction block
A first edition Gatsby is about to make a lowly bookseller nouveau riche. I see a mansion, a pool, such parties, mental breakdown, lots of yellow clothing (a sure sign of mental breakdown) in this man's future. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Scots get nationalistic over kidlit list
Kilts in knots. Sporran fly. Why the hell is Miss Jean Brodie not on this list? What bothers me more is that the list reads like a grade 10 public school curriculum. But maybe that does describe our collective experience. Oh dear. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

I think we have to come up with a new term for the least harmful, most preposterous lies that come from the White House these days. I humbly submit "Bushit". As antecedent, I give you Bush's summer reading (or "carrying") list: Salt: A World History, Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar, and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. Three well calculated-to-make-you-feel-like-research-is-being-done books that this well-documented bozo is supposed to be able to finish in five weeks. Um, will there be puppet shows? And, wait: he gets five weeks of vacation? Hasn't he been on vacation a few times this year already? It would be interesting to calculate his vacation time in terms of Marines (much less others). In 2005, George W. Bush had __ dead Marines worth of vacation. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Marketing magazines
Do magazine circulation numbers get you hot? Then read read read! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Get the horses... we're goin after the crooks who done robbed Leonard
Leonard Cohen was innocently chanting his brains out, all the while being robbed by his management. This is what Zen Buddhism gets you: nothing. (Oh, yes, I went there.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Death to the Death of Poetry!
The title alone will draw you in. The fact that it's Donald Hall will keep you there. Donald, go kill the death of poetry, please.

But I need as well, and separately, to insist: I believe in the quality of the best contemporary poetry; I believe that the best American poetry of our day makes a considerable literature. American Poetry after Lowell--an anthology of four hundred pages limited, say, to women and men born from the 1920s through the 1940s--would collect a large body of diverse, intelligent, beautiful, moving work that should endure. Mind you, it would limit itself to one-hundredth of one percent of the poems published. If you write about Poetry Now, you must acknowledge that most poetry is terrible--that most poetry of any moment is terrible. When, at any historical moment, you write an article claiming that poetry is now in terrible shape, you are always right. Therefore, you are always fatuous.

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

Colin Wilson
Profiled, in the NYT. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Funny poetry
Like, funny haha. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Setting your priorities
This interesting discourse on how to choose books is timeless. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Photo poems
Someone has created a Flickr set of beautiful pics to go with poems from the likes of Billy Collins. Interesting idea. Love Flickr. Love it. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Everyone in bull's-eyes
People are sure riled up about Target buying the entire advertising for the latest New Yorker. Well, casting the city as one giant target was perhaps not the best move.... (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Off by Aimee Bender
Bookslut points us to an Aimee Bender story from her new collection, which is reviewed here.

At the party I make a goal. and it is to kiss three men: one with black hair, one with red hair, and the third blond. Not necessarily in that order. I'm alone at the party and I have my drink in a mug because by the time I got here, at the ideal moment of lateness, the host had used all her bluish glasses with fluted stems that she bought from the local home-supply store that all others within a ten-block radius had bought too because at some inexplicable point in time, everybody woke up with identical taste. I see two matching sweaters and four similar handbags. It's enough to make you want to buy ugly, except other people are having that reaction too and I spot three identically ugly pairs of shoes. There's just nowhere to hide. I know the host here from highschool and she likes to invite me to things because for one, she feels sorry for me and for two, she finds me entertaining and blushes when I cuss. It's how we flirt.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Jillian Tamaki online
Fans of Jillian Tamaki's work (she did the illustrations for my CBC articles on Canadian SF and sex in CanLit) will want to check out her website. (From Drawn) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The Big Gay Read
Sometimes I love the British. And sometimes I don't.

The Big Gay Read, a follow-up to the BBC's Big Read, is intended to cross the sexuality divide and prompt a debate in reading groups, in internet chatrooms, in bars and over dinner tables, anywhere where people like talking about books.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Poor Grendel has had an accident
I don't know about the casting of the new Beowulf movie....

Winstone ("Sexy Beast") has signed on to play the title character and will be joined by Glover as Grendel and Jolie as Grendel's mother. Rounding out the cast are Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Alison Lohman and Brendan Gleeson.

(From Neil Gaiman) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Disney Sweatshops: New Theme Park Opens in China
Disney has quietly opened a reality theme park in Guangdong province, China. Here, teenage summer students dress up like poor Chinese factory workers and print off very badly written, garishly illustrated "books." The conveyor belt ride costs pennies, apparently, and visitors report a feel-good atmosphere as a result of the alms-giving component toward the end. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

French bomb scare...
...turns out to be a marked-up review copy of Houellebecq's newest novel. Sworn enemy reviewer of Houellebecq happens upon a review copy on a park bench. Gee, what a co-inkidink. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

King of Hay making hay
Richard Booth, the eccentric bookseller monarch of Hay-on-Wye, is putting his shop on the real estate market. Books not included.

Mr Booth says he is willing to sell the shop's thousands of books in a mass public sale. He said surplus books would be translated into "Bootho's", a "complimen-tary time-based currency guaranteed to outperform the euro and the dollar"

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Monument to kidlit
Seven Stories, a massive interactive storage centre and gallery, opens today in Newcastle. It's entirely filled with Children's literature. Sounds divine. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Illicit Histories
Sound like a new novel from any of a raft of CanLit icons? It's not. Some schmoe in Armenia gets busted for trying to illegally export old books. But is it really about the books? (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Oasis of Heartache
Posh, I can deal with, but Noel? Noel, Noel, Noel... I could stand the coke and foul mouth, Noel. I could stand the constant incoherent flailing at other rock bands. I could take the treble increasing, album to album. I could even take the lyrics that made no sense whatsoever. But your first book ever being Angels and Demons? Noel, it's over. Over between you and me. I'm a one Radiohead man now. Perhaps a three banger with Blur or The Verve. Coldplay in a clutch. Pulp when they're in town. Okay, I'm a Britpop whore, but you're getting none of it. None of my rock and roll hootchie-coo. (discuss) (Posted by George)

To Protect the Innocent

How far does one memoir author have to go to protect the names of the not-so-innocent? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Dare Speak Its Name
The Big Gay Read in Britain. I wonder if Posh will... Nah. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Latitudes of Disappointment
This year's great American novel hasn't shown itself. Um, there's supposed to be one per year? When were those quotas put into effect? And has anyone informed Wubblewoo? Maybe he should invade Manhattan to protect America's stake in the literary fiction market. Wait, don't give him any ideas. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Book Tour Diaries
By AL Kennedy. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The Truth is Down There
Oz likes non-fiction. That's funny. They seem to be buying into the novel that is John Howard's pro-Bush agenda... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Cuts Like a Knife
Deep discounts on Harry are killing retailers. Die, retailers, die! (That's just German for "The, retailers, the!") (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

Like Google, only sexier.
The library of the future is here.

The Sharon Public Library website, as well as others, has an icon on its web homepage titled ''24/7 Reference." Click on it anytime, from anywhere, and you can get even the most obscure question answered by a live librarian. The MassAnswers.org system, which is part of the Massachusetts Regional Reference Center, features a network of librarians in the state and across the country who contribute a certain amount of time to answer reference questions.

Want to know exactly how Prue Halliwell, Shannen Doherty's character, died on the television series ''Charmed" (about three demon-battling sisters who are witches)? Just ask.
Recently, when the question about Prue's death was posed online, a librarian who introduced herself as Barbara from Wisconsin came on and treated what might have seem a frivolous question with the utmost importance. She solved the mystery by searching the television show's official website, as well as more than a dozen fan sites: Prue died in episode 66 in season three, when the Source of All Evil's assassin killed her.

It took all of 10 minutes to track down the answer.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

It's not you, it's that I don't have enough shelves
First Globe & Mail Books editor Martin Levin broke up with some of his books. Now Boston Globe columnist Sam Allis says he needs to be alone.

I woke up one day recently and, before coffee, went straight to my bookshelves and started tossing books on the floor. By the time I was done, there were more than 100 of them, hardback and paperback, littering the scene like corpses.

You name them, I dumped them: Don DeLillo, V.S. Naipaul, Peter Carey, Walker Percy, Joyce Carol Oates, Cormac McCarthy, Robert Graves, William Boyd, among many -- they all bit the dust. The next day I pored over the carnage and booted a couple of dozen more, including works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Updike, Ian McEwan, Paul Auster, and Annie Proulx.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Short story's Booker prize?
I feel ... dirty.

Linklater said: "The novel is a capacious old whore: everyone has a go at her, but she rarely emits so much as a groan for their efforts.
"The short story, on the other hand, is a nimble goddess: she selects her suitors fastidiously and sings like a dove when they succeed.

"The British literary bordello is heaving with flabby novels; it's time to give back some love to the story."

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

Wouldn't a shiny new lit magazine look good in your driveway?
Granta's looking for a new owner.

Granta, the one-time Cambridge University student magazine, is seeking a new owner to carry on a tradition of discovering new writers that began in 1889.
Rea Hederman, who also owns the New York Review of Books, has talked with potential buyers for Granta magazine and Granta Books in recent months as his thoughts turn to retirement.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Flowers of Evil -- Cool Ranch Flavour!!
The French put their own twist on global capitalism with book vending machines.

Readers craving Homer, Baudelaire or Lewis Carroll in the middle of the night can get a quick fix at one of the French capital's five newly installed book vending machines.
"We have customers who know exactly what they want and come at all hours to get it," said Xavier Chambon, president of Maxi-Livres, a low-cost publisher and book store chain that debuted the vending machines in June. "It's as if our stores were open 24 hours a day."

Well, I guess it's better than some countries' contributions to vending machines. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Browsing for yoga mats
An elegy for the bookstore.

The new-style ''mega'' complexes in which the shopping mall meets the community arts center have bred a new bookstore culture where it's virtually impossible to do the thing that used to lure most of us to bookstores: browse.
It's not just books on sale anymore -- it's CD's, DVD's, greeting cards, stationery, sundry gifts, coffee and baked goods, and very likely health and beauty aids or tires in the not-too-distant future. More products means more to advertise.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Chelsea Revolution
Canuck writer Timothy Taylor heads over to England for an in-depth article on soccer culture. I don't know what any of it means, but it's probably of interest to our more athletically minded readers. All two of you.

The hairs on the nape of my neck are standing up. A strange feeling sweeping through. Hyperreality: an experience inexplicable without reference to the television version known previously. Because I've heard football songs before. I've joined the Chelsea crowds many times via broadcast signals ghosted off satellites in geostationary orbit in the exosphere overhead. I've felt the connection. At least I thought I had until I entered this narrow surge channel passing from the West Stand up onto Fulham Road and encountered the passionate, on-the-ground reality of team devotion.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Shorted by Amazon
Amazon is now selling exclusive digital shorts by some of your favourite writers. Well, not YOUR favourite writers. (If they're your favourite writers, you should really just leave now.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Plain Jane
A little love for the ugly girls. What do you get when Hollywood tries to squeeze extra tits and lips into a role written for a plain lady? Hilarity! No, wait, something else. Um, sadness? Upset? Lack of authenticity? Ratings?

Can a beautiful female actor do justice to characters who aren't supposed to be beautiful? Can they really channel the power of the plain? In theory, a good actor can convince us of anything, can make us believe them dowdy or ordinary despite their facial geometry, and give us the interior life instead.
But in a world, as the man who narrates the trailers would say, where all the women are beautiful, the value of beauty can be strangely devalued. Many films are populated with stunners but the plot demands that nobody notice. How on the screen do you show a fierce spirit or a strong intellect?

In Hollywood, the best way to suggest a woman with an intellect is to cast an actor who doesn't have a deep suntan. Thus we get Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman, sad and ethereal, playing a parade of scholars and writers. Although Kidman hasn't played an Austen heroine, all three have squeezed into the bodices of masterpiece theatre and all have played dead, white, female writers.

True, Gwyneth got Sylvia, whose own physical attractiveness has informed her legend, all scarlet lips and aggressive pashing sessions with Ted Hughes. Kate Winslet channelled Iris Murdoch with a pageboy bob and a hammy collection of gestures to suggest the novelist/philosopher's intellect: Winslet threw her head back when she laughed, she rolled her eyes, she frowned prettily. Kidman was more restrained as the suicidal Virginia Woolf but couldn't project the writer's formidable presence - she could only strike a pose in a putty nose, doing sad very well but not brilliance, and certainly not Woolf's uneasy mixture of pride and insecurity.

(Ah, Kate Winslet... I'd be her fat, bumbling scholar any day.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

See above
Angelina Jolie in Beowulf. Perfect. Except that she has all her teeth (see below). (Thanks, B) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Shakespeare in Received pronunciation vs Original pronunciation. Like New Coke vs Coke Classic. Except, you know, no obesity epidemic. Though the people are all still toothless. (discuss) (Posted by George)

This Side of Paralysed
Fitzgerald in Hollywood: Why do they keep trying? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Killed by Chick-Lit
No, not me after opening the mail last week (though I did remove one or two titles with tongs and run straight for the furnace room) -- the ditzes are learning how to commit murder. No, not of feminism or English prose... I could go on like this. And normally I do. But it's getting late. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Captain Pan
Okay, I'm starting to budge on this... It's sounding like it might be a good story. And this author sounds smart. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Pop goes the Thompson. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Guess the baldspot
Can you match these writerly crops with their writerly props? If you do, you could win the Booker longlist. God, Rushdie's head is hot. I mean, in a all-the-hair-has-been-burnt-away kind of way. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Attack of the Neo-Creos
William Safire takes on "intelligent design." (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

"Mary Had a Little Lamb. It Was Delicious"
Klingon fairy tales by McSweeney's. (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

My daily nightmare
Hollywood spends millions on making and promoting movies but can't be bothered to proofread the actual titles of movies.

What happens when the title of a hit movie doesn't conform to AP style?

That question was answered in recent days when newspapers started reviewing and writing about the new box office hit whose official name is "The 40 Year-Old Virgin." Of course, as any reporter or editor worth his or her salt knows, there should be a hyphen between 40 and Year. As it reads now, it's almost as if the movie is about 40 virgins who are still toddlers (not exactly unusual).

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

Salt in wound
Mark Kurlanksy, author of Salt, wonders why Bush is reading his book.

What does it mean that George W Bush, a man who has demonstrated little ability for reflection, who is known to read no newspapers and whose headlong charge into disaster after cataclysm has shown a complete ignorance of history, who wants to throw out centuries of scientific learning and replace it with mythical mumbo-jumbo that he mistakenly calls religion, who preaches Christianity but seems to have never read the teachings of the great anti-war activist, Jesus Christ, is now spending his vacation reading my book, Salt: A World History?

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Those Swedish are just fükkenööped. And so forward thinking, God bless em. I want to live there. Perhaps I can be loaned out as a red-headed poet minority.

Nine people, including a homosexual, an imam, a journalist, a Muslim woman and a gypsy, will be available at the Malmoe Library for members of the public to "borrow" for a 45-minute conversation in the library's outdoor cafe.

Apparently each minority comes unassembled in a flat pack and can be put together in minutes with an allen key. Of course, they fall apart after a year or so, but they're so damn cheap! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Online library
Ten books gets you a million. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Newsweeklies dying?
Are the newsweekly mags slowly slipping? Newsweekly?? (discuss) (Posted by George)

MFA mailbag
All your MFA questions answered. You know, except: "Why?" A new blog as a marketing tool for a book on how to get in to, and presumably not quit in disgust, an MFA. (From Brenda) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Jack the Ripper case solved!
Society continues to unravel as money and effort are spent in the least effective places. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bruce Sterling's honorary degree
Comes with implant that forces all automatic doors to say, "Welcome Doctor Sterling" when he crosses their thresholds. (From BoingBoing)
(discuss) (Posted by George)

The censorship debate made pertinent to everyday life. Increasingly, this is the kind of pressure I live under. Perhaps, as a long time fan of the strip, I am unconsciously raising my son to be Calvin-like. (discuss) (Posted by George)


CBC lockouts publishers as well
The CBC lockout is affecting publishers' plans for the fall publicity season. For our American readers, a CBC strike is the Canadian arts world equivalent of a hockey strike. The whole country suffers. Without the CBC, it's as if no one cares! Wait... no one does... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Literature's great losses
"What links Homer's Margites, Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Won and Sylvia Plath's Double Exposure? They were all written, and then, for one reason or another, irrevocably lost." (discuss) (Posted by George)

Indigo: the purple loostrife of the publishing world

It doesn't matter where you hide... it's coming for you. Today, Whitehorse. Tomorrow, Baffin Island. (discuss) (Posted by George)

She's so heavy
Hunger's Brides hits the US and, at 1,360 pages, people are amazed by its size. No flash photography, please. You'll enrage the beast. (Yanks with weak arms might want to order from the above link to the Canadian paperback.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sheesh: Populating the new Webster's
How do dictionary folk choose the new words to go into their updates? Go ask the editor. (Personally, I always thought it involved a dime of pot, some Floyd records and a series of increasingly dangerous triple dog dares...) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Forsooth, my homies
Shakespeare: rapper. Warning: this can be painful. If you ever had an enthusiastic, well-meaning, but utterly clueless English teacher, this may make you want to go find her and hug her.

Well, what's totally fresh about Shakespeare is that he wrote for ordinary people. His homies. My students say, "Then why did he write in this snooty poetry that no one can understand?" Well, that's just it. His poetry was the best street rhyming of his time. And Shakespeare was the best "player" of them all! Even today, 400 years later, Shakespeare is the world's ultimate rapper!

(discuss) (Posted by George)


Don't judge a book by its covers
Oh, the nostalgia this one evokes.

Among the hundreds of books pressed into the hands of bookstore owners, reporters and other buzz-makers at the Book Expo America convention in New York in June was one with a garishly illustrated blaze-orange cover depicting a shirtless, Conan the Barbarian-type warrior standing atop a mountain peak, a shield in one hand and a forked branch lofted, spearlike, in the other.

It was an arresting image, all the more so because the book, "The Diviners," was not a Gothic adventure tale or a Wagnerian historical fantasy, but rather a novel by Rick Moody, the literary author known for his meditative, interior prose in books including "The Ice Storm."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

What book would you want on a desert island?
Maybe a book on raft-building? On how to catch fish? Or anything but a dictionary?

You're stranded on a remote desert island, perhaps for years. Forget about Internet access or some wireless device. You're on your own and allowed only one book to accompany you. What book would you choose? One of those classics you've never gotten around to - say, "War and Peace" or "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"?

If you're under 18 or a persistent multitasker, perhaps the prospect of such isolation - Webless - leaves you so anxious that you'd be unable to focus on reading.

But let's pretend.

I know what book I would select: my dictionary, one volume, about 1,500 densely printed pages.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

In the spirit of the Amazon Shorts announcement, here's a blog dedicated to e-books and their kin. (From Boing Boing) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

I just buy it for the hyperlinks
Playboy is launching a digital version.

To view the digital version of Playboy, readers will have to download Zinio Reader, which is free. The software, which is compatible with both PCs and Macintosh machines, allows customers to navigate content via hyperlinks and text search, send copies to friends via e-mail, archive content, and zoom in on text and images. It's easy to imagine the last feature appealing to Playboy readers.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


A special, special find for your Friday viewing pleasure: Off the Charts
You know, these little clips of this documentary, Off the Charts, on turning shitty poems into songs, have totally changed my perspective on the performativity of verse. I'm doing my next reading in bare feet and with a tamborine. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Friday links for the time challenged
It took me more than half an hour to get old Betsy here fired up and online this morning... I think it's time to take her out back for a walk with the shotgun. Of course, then I actually have to buy another computer and my desires escape my means. Anyway, the fallout is you get bullet links instead of proper posts because Chuggy McVacuumtube here decided to give me hassels.

If you want to discuss anything here, find yourself a comfy topic and post away... I truly fear I am squeezing these last few words under the threat of blue screen here, so goodbye... There's the last bullet, old girl, now listen for echo of the shot. (Posted by George)


Weekend Edition:

Poets are odd
The New York Times says so. And apparently good letter writers. Weirdos.

poets often have used letters to arrive at new ways of thinking about poems. For example, in a letter to Louis Untermeyer, Frost defined literature as ''words that have become deeds,'' an idea that has direct application to his verse; similarly, Rimbaud famously described poetic development to Paul Demeny as ''a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses.'' But letter writing relates to poetry in deeper and more peculiar ways as well. A letter presupposes a writer and a recipient -- an I and a You -- and poetry, in its original, lyric form makes a very similar assumption (Sappho: ''So once again come, Mistress; and releasing / Me from my sadness, give me what I sue for''). As W. R. Johnson points out in his acute study ''The Idea of Lyric,'' this assumption is missing from much 20th-century poetry, but the old I-You structure has never vanished entirely. Indeed, poets are haunted by the concept of speaker and audience the way novelists are haunted by the idea of time.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Championship Scrabble game
From first word to last. Looks just like when I play.... (From Metafilter) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

The future of publishing (part THX-1138)

Scott Sigler first published his science-fiction novel EarthCore in 2001 with iPublish, an AOL/Time Warner imprint. When a promotional ebook version came out first, it hit No. 1 on Barnes & Noble’s website, and as plans to release the print version were going full steam ahead, Time Warner decided to scrap the whole imprint. After making sure he held the rights to the book, Sigler started looking for another way to get it an audience. In March, the author began podcasting a serialized version of his novel, which has now been downloaded more than 10,000 times. “When podcasting rolled around, I thought it would be a great way to release a novel,” he says. “I did a lot of research on it. There are 23 million Americans with an MP3 player, and the most popular form of radio is talk radio. So I thought, ‘This is just going to be huge.’ ”

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Can't figure out how I forgot this one...
I spent all weekend talking about how good I thought Martin Levin's reviewing the reviewers column in the Saturday Globe was, and then come Monday morning it had vanished from my head... Loose screws. That's how the light gets in, init? (Well, not all weekend...) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Good morning! Welcome to a new week! Update: You still live in a society geared at every level to undermine the success of women
New tests indicate men are cleverer than women. Hmm. Who wrote those tests, I wonder? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Is publishing really an exclusive club?
Only for those few hours after you receive your latest rejection letter. Generally it's open to everyone but you. (discuss) (Posted by George)

And the Quills go...
In the eye of every literary author, small press, and thinking reader... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Patriot Act flexes muscles
By demanding library records for an "intelligence" investigation. A first, and a disturbing development. Librarians, go here to get some "legal" signs for your library. And watch what you say. Big Brother is on the case. (From Bookslut) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Can't... stand... or... speak... at... normal... rate...
Must. Not. Hyperventilate... gasp gasp gasp... World. Atilt. Mind. Askew. Life. Spinning. Out. Of. Control... New Coetzee novel, Slow Man, panned. I plan to give him the benefit of the doubt. Why? He's a genius. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The freelancing life
Hunting down dragons... rescuing damsels... eating mutton and mead and such... conserving hitpoints for a run against that troll in the hills... Wearing your pygamas under your plate mail... You know, the good stuff. (discuss) (Posted by George)


And Liberality for All!
A comic book set in the dark liberal dystopia of the future, in which Sean Hannity and Oliver North are superheroes. More Republican madness? Or liberal hysteria? You decide.

Set in the year 2021, the eight-book series imagines an alternative history in which Al Gore won the 2000 election and liberals went on to create a grim dystopia, with Chelsea Clinton as president, Michael Moore the vice president, a hyper-active Department of Political-Correctness, and the United States under the thumb of a corrupt United Nations world government. Meanwhile, Islamic terrorists no longer consider the kinder, gentler US government a threat, and have focused their energies on assassinating their true enemies--the arch conservatives who make up the resistance. Osama bin Laden, now the Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, plans to wipe out New York with a nuclear device, and it's up to our dynamic talk-radio trio to save the nation.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Till Derrida do us part
I originally read this as satire, but then I remembered grad school....

JUDGE SILVERMAN: Friends and relatives, we are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Allison and Cary. To do so, we must perform these vows in an act of ceremony.
But what are these things: to wed, to marry, to take a wedding vow? They are what the philosopher J. L. Austin, in his study How to Do Things With Words, calls “speech acts,” of which there are two different kinds: constative speech acts, whose primary attribute is that they say something; and performative speech acts (of which this ceremony is an example), whose primary attribute is that they do something. A performative speech act, as Austin puts it, doesn't describe a state of affairs; it possesses the crucial feature of accomplishing the very act to which it refers. The very act of saying it makes it so.

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

Drink the mocha
And get the gay!

A national Christian women's organization is accusing the Seattle-based coffee maker of promoting a homosexual agenda because of a quote by author Armistead Maupin, whose "Tales of the City" chronicled San Francisco's homosexual community in the 1970s and 1980s.

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

The end of publishing
(Part summer 2005.) (From Arts Journal) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Ever spot someone reading your book?
Just keep your mouth shut.

A well-known writer found himself sitting on a train opposite a woman reading the novel (his first) which he'd recently had published. Unable to contain his excitement, he leaned across the table, gave a small cough and told the woman that she was reading his book. She immediately lowered it and said how sorry she was, explaining that she didn't know the book belonged to anyone, and that she'd just found it lying on the table. Before the writer could correct her misapprehension, the woman slid the book across the table towards him. "It doesn't matter," she said. "I wasn't really enjoying it anyway."

(From Galley Cat) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Lesser-known editing marks
Could have used these when I worked for Harlequin. (From Quill) (discuss)
 (Posted by Peter)

Black to basics or bling?
Oprah goes verbally medieval on people suggesting she's snubbing the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines by missing his funeral. (She was in Hawaii and unable to make it back. Do you have any idea how much a last-minute ticket from Hawaii costs? I mean, it would break her.) For others, this death is a time for reflection on the state of the black magazine/intellectual world.

Johnson's death got me thinking about the void that exists in the world of black-oriented publishing these days. There's the feel-good, middle-class black mirror most vividly embodied by Ebony and Jet, and the post-modern, hyper-acquisitive "bling" aesthetic found in hip-hop magazines such as Vibe and XXL. But there's no idea-driven publication aimed at black Americans -- at least none that has achieved equivalent success. Why? An honest assessment should probably begin at home: Here's what you'd have found on my coffee table, should you have stopped by in mid-August:

  • Three board books by the children's author Sandra Boynton.
  • A Land's End clothing catalogue.
  • The Aug. 22 New Yorker.
  • The August Harper's.

No Ebony or Jet on the table, or anywhere else in my house. No copies of Vibe, the Source, Black Enterprise or Essence, either. No, with our time for reading so limited by life's exigencies -- also known as two children under6 -- our intake has been pared down in recent years to publications that meet a simple criterion: What do we need to know? I'm looking for that sort of general-interest magazine for the black reader and I'm not finding it.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Critical edge cuts like a knife
Alex Good looks at the current trend in reviewing to smack up the established writers like Irving, Rushdie and (gasp) Coetzee. (discuss) (Posted by George)

More information you didn't want to have...
Amazon stats show how your book stacks up. Don't look! Don't looooook! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Who was Shakespeare?
Besides that guy who tortured you in the ninth grade. (Oh. My. God. How long can this argument go on? Let me rephrase that: how long can it capture the public imagination? Let me rephrase that: how long can it capture the imagination of book journalists?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Salman Rushdie
Profiled in the Guardian. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Why don't people read as much in the Caribbean?
Um, because books cost $4,000? (Insert disclaimer on sarcasm for humour challenged readers here.) But seriously, Black Ink says poverty. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The grant trap

This is how all Canadian poetry gets started. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Black people loot, white people acquire
These frighteningly illustrative AP photo captions show how biased the media is. Good morning! (discuss) (Posted by George)

Star poetry contest won by grade 7 teacher
There's a particularly egregious dearth of capital letters here. but congratulations anyway, michael. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Leonard Cohen : Spice Box of the--Who Stole All My Freaking Money?
Leonard Cohen links. Admit it: you'd still fuck him. (discuss) (Posted by George)

John Updike on Salman Rushdie

Cue the sax, baby. Maybe that catchy little intro from Careless Whisper. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Dust up
The Quill blog is reporting on a dustup between Globe music columnist and all around dude Carl Wilson and Fury's Hour author Warren Kinsella. Kinsella didn't like Wilson's assessment of his book and freaked out on his blog. Wilson responds. How does this make Kinsella look? Insert your opinion here. Word to the wise, people: never respond to reviews. (No permalink, that I can see.) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Your brain can't hold two languages at once
Not without some subtle bleeding from one to the other. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The art of the Toastmaster
Butter only goes on one side, you see... That, and: speak up. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Google pledges to destroy all information it can't index
The Onion has a new look. Same old nerdy satire though, thank God. (discuss) (Posted by George)

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