In honour of Canada
Day, we bring you bad Canadian sex with Neal Pollack
Neal Pollack visits Canada and decides to get a "massage."
Generally, when I tell strangers
that I'm a writer, their first response is, "What kind of stuff
have you written? Books?" But my randomly chosen "massage therapist"
in Toronto said, "A writer, huh? Interesting. I just finished
my master's degree in literature at the university. My thesis
was on, oh, I can't remember his name now. Isn't that stupid?
He wrote White Noise and that book about Lee Harvey Oswald."
Don't forget to do the Nerve
while you're on the site. (Discuss)
Play the Wrapped
Up in Books game!
It's kind of like Tetris, but with a bookworm.
Damn it, I was just starting to get things done. (From Bookslut)
hire me Douglas Coupland's publicist (and see if he's interested
in buying any of MY shirts)
This guy is always
in the news... His publicist must be a magical elf with enormous
powers of persuasion. I mean, this article is basically just a "what's
ol' Dougie-boy up to these days" kind-of-thing. I would
be happy to just get a voice on the other end of the line. I would
even settle for having someone lie to me like they used to. I would
appreciate it if someone plagiarized my last book's press release
and stuck the text under a picture of the latest. I would be happy
if someone in a subbasement was licking a stamp and accidentally
had my book cross their mind. That would make me quiver. Excuse
me, I must expel my bile. (P.S. Douglas
Coupland is my hero because he managed to buy poet Chris Banks's
shirt right off his back. This has far reaching social implications
and is a perfect illustration of the novelist/poet division.) (First
link from PFW) (discuss)
If someone published a
book running through a multitude of ways to assassinate Bush,
would you buy it?
More incendiary than
Jay's assassination fantasies, in the end, may be the deep expressions
of anger against the administration the book dwells on. In that
respect it is not unlike Joseph Heller's 1979 novel Good as Gold,
which included an extended rant against Henry Kissinger. The difference,
though, is that Kissinger had been out of power for two years
when Heller's book was published; Mr Bush is in the middle of
a bruising re-election battle.
Shh. Ey-thay ight-may
e-bay istening-lay........... (Actually, given the editorial around
here, that's not improbable.) (Discuss)
Up your wa-Zoo
Remember that Zoo Press fiasco south of the border? The small press
(yet very prestigious, with ties to the Atlantic, and Kenyon and
Paris reviews, not to mention publisher of my old pal Ross Martin)
charged people $25 to enter a fiction contest and then cancelled
the contest without refunding the money. Maud
breaks down the
entire story here, linking to various articles written about
it. Plus she goes ballistic (for Maud) at the end and provides a
letter template for ripped-off entrants to write their attorney
general. There's been a sub-text of anger in her posts lately. And
it makes us warm and fuzzy inside our black, cold assassin hearts.
Rehash of Nash
another article about small press dreamboat Richard Nash, to
whom something like the above would never happen (he's too smart,
for one). That just leaves me about ten short of feeling sated.
(Someone get me his publicist too, and lock them in a room with
Coupland's so they can mate and produce an uberlicist...) (discuss)
O Brave new world...
Welcome to the future. Students
can't write by hand and are flunking tests because of it. The
old codger in me says, Well good! The young technophile cries, Foul!
The eschatological nut in me says, We should have listened to Philip
K Dick when we had the chance (say in one of the last six or seven
"It's not just freaks that are obsessed with comic
And this is from someone with the title "Director of Public
Relations" of Indigo... Hmm. You know what to do... But I digress.
girls obsessed with manga. Hm. It sounds like the plot of a
manga novel. It's just missing the betentacled robot/monster rapist...
I'm sure great values are being taught, even in the non-porn titles.
How to titter and giggle just right, how to bend your knees together
to form an innocent little x with your legs, how to use eating disorders
and plastic surgery to ensure your legs comprise 70% of your body
length and your eyes 3/8ths of your face... And remember girls,
keep those mouths tiny! (discuss)
Penn + pen = novel
Penn, the loudmouth from Penn and Teller, has written
But, true to Penn
form, this is no ordinary work of fiction. The book’s narrator
is Dickie, a sock monkey - yes, really - who belongs to an NYPD
diver he calls the Little Fool, and the book’s structure is pure
stream-of-consciousness adventure, peppered with pop-culture references
and philosophical wit.
Rowling reveals past life lived as Suzanne Somers
Have I done this joke before? It's uncanny! Mind you, she's moving
in on Tammy Fay Baker... Ew. Seriously, I like her too much to have
her wear this much plastic explosive on her face. (Oh, and something
Potter being a half-wit ponce...) (discuss)
This is so
painful and inspiring it just had to go in the comedy slot...
Having made it on
to the longlist, I would regularly log on to the competition's
website to check my progress. Sadly, I saw myself sliding down
the rankings. "You were doing well, getting threes and fours
out of five," explained Gwen. "Then, someone read it
who just didn't want to know, and gave you a nought."
Why are the technology
companies run by Luddites?
In an earlier post I said I was looking forward to the Sony
Librie, a new e-book thingy. The technology is apparently what we've
all been waiting for, but
the suits behind it seem to have confused bookstores with Blockbusters.
Reading Librie isn't anything
like flipping through a paperback, but it is a breeze. You just
push a button on the side of the display to go to the next page,
and the button above that to go back.
Skipping around a book is easy.
A cursor button featuring a picture of a dog is scrolled at the
bottom of the display. The Librie has a memory function that can
place up to 40 bookmarks.
But you can't copy and paste passages
to another computer or device. And copy protection built into
the software garbles your books into useless data after two months.
There's no way to digitally archive texts for later reference.
That's a lot of restrictions, though the books available for this
first Librie do cost only $3 per download.
Guess we'll have to wait for someone
to come up with a version worth using. (From Boing
Just before I left Toronto, the city's governing council decided
playground equipment was somehow unsafe for children and had all
the jungle gyms, swings and tetherball posts removed from playgrounds
across the city. At first it was a little depressing to walk past
schools and see children playing in the dirt because that's all
there was, but my sadness faded when I moved.
In Vancouver, the schools have playground equipment, and I can't
help but notice the children are less likely to throw used hypodermic
needles at me as a result. In fact, near where I live there are
two playgrounds set between the rainforest and the ocean, one of
which even has an automatic drying booth for kids who get wet (not
only do these playgrounds have waterparks, but there are seals to
chase in the ocean!). But these playgrounds pale in comparison to
A bizarre-looking vehicle recently
drew slack-jawed stares from the normally jaded Manhattanites
on West 83rd Street. Occupying a flat-bed delivery truck, it looked
like a white and neon-red locomotive, but with so many crumples
and curves that it resembled melted marzipan. This was part of
a train, all right, but not one that had ever chugged into New
York, except in young imaginations. It was the locomotive from
Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham," and it has now found a station:
the Children's Museum of Manhattan, where it stars in "Oh, Seuss!
Off to Great Places," a 4,000-square-foot exhibition that opens
In her ongoing struggle to complete her PhD, my partner Ailsa comes
up with this. It's nice to see she's being productive. Mind
you, after having witnessed the depression, anxiety and eventual
insanity of several friends working on their theses, I can see how
this would help. It seems to make her feel better, much like the
Litterati comics do for some of
us.... (Psh... Cartoonists who can "draw"! Oh, look at
me! I can draw! I'm natural in the form! Nah nah nah! Let's see
you lay down a sonnet, pal!) (discuss)
are a big business (one that's apparently way too easy to get
in to). And if you don't buy them, the terrorists have already won.
Husni notes that
949 new magazines launched last year, and about 400 more debuted
in the first five months of this one.
With 6,000 periodicals out there, it's a challenge to grab readers'
attention. Many periodicals roll out slowly, as quarterlies, then
become bimonthlies, then monthlies, as Justine, Conceive and Plenty
are doing. Justine printed 100,000 copies of its premier issue,
plans 150,000 for its fall issue, and hopes to go bimonthly next
(Keep Canada free!
Buy Maisonneuve!) (discuss)
Poet likes being on list
He's a next generationer and very
happy about it. Hell, who wouldn't be? This kind of recognition
is like crack for poets.
"This is a fantastic
opportunity," said Dr [Matthew] Francis, who works in the
university's English department.
"My work will reach a much wider audience now than I could
have hoped and the publicity should also attract more creative
writing students to the university."
Um, no, the desire
to not work for a higher degree will bring them there. (Discuss)
Prisoners get a break
A proposed rule would have barred (ha!) prisoners in Oregon from
than 10 books in their cell at one time. No more.
Walker and other
inmates warned that tensions were bound to rise within the 12,200-inmate
prison system if officials imposed a tight lid on books, magazines
and other property.
Bravo. Common sense
rules the day. Now, just take away their cigarettes to make up for
the allowance. That oughtta even everyone right out... ("Magazines"
.... ew!) (discuss)
Okay, about film, but dealing with some interesting ideas
with filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev* yields some interesting "should"s.
"Let me tell
you, there is an old Eastern parable about a Buddhist monk who
once went out to teach under the trees and just before he started
speaking, a bird started singing," Zvyagintsev says.
"He stood there silent,
not saying a word, listening. When the bird finished singing,
he told his pupils that
the lesson was over.
He rose up, went away ...
"Communication is not
just speaking using words, notions, ideas, because we don't know
much that way. We cannot express much that way. It's not the fullness
"And there is such
an idea - Plato, quoting Socrates, says that an artist, a poet
should create myth. An artist should create images, not thinking
patterns. A poet should create images, not trains of thought."
And a playwright?
"The playwright or
a novelist, they're also poets. But they are dealing only in words,
and cinema has other means of expression. How could you describe
with words, convey with words, a pause, a silence, a glance?"
Isn't that what all
those funky line breaks are doing? (discuss)
Zoo let the dogs out? Woot, woot woot!
So the Zoo Press scandal continues down there in Bushlandia. People
are getting angry. With reason it seems. This
letter was sent out some
of the bloggers who first
broke the story and whose cultural reportage brought it to the
mainstream via Poets & Writers magazine. Fight the good fight,
Drunk as poets
There are plenty of people who don't plan
There were five daily
1. Each poet must be drunk
2. A poem must be composed by closing time.
3. The poet must not leave the pub until closing time, unless
the bar staff eject him.
4. If the bar staff eject the poet before closing time, he must
go to another pub.
5. Only alcoholic drinks may be consumed. Water and mixers are
banned, but ice is allowed. Food is also permitted.
This makes me sad.
And thirsty! (discuss)
Book thief gets six
Director Deborah Carver said Collver's thefts were the first detected
at the University in 15 years.
Obviously not a very
thief, but one more off the streets nonetheless. (Discuss)
Storms gives a
Canada Day present. (Discuss)
Typeface vs. font
The other day, someone asked me the difference between a typeface
and a font, and I didn't have a clear answer for him. In order to
prevent you from suffering the same embarrassment, I've found these
If you're a nerd like me, you may also want to add this book
to your reading list. And if you're dyslexic, you may want to check
At last, Canada
has more to offer the world than poutine!
Let's have a double
double to celebrate.
"We had to determine if it was
used only in Tim Hortons doughnut shops or more widely," Barber
said. "We found evidence in the Globe and Mail, the National
Post, the Hamilton Spectator and the book Men with
Brooms, based on the curling movie."
Researchers also surveyed Canadians
across the country and were sent to eavesdrop in coffee shops
to gauge whether people really use the term.
I'm going to see Spider-Man 2 today, so I thought I'd
post a couple of comic-related links to get in the spirit of things.
First, the Star has a good piece on the
way the Web is changing the comics industry:
In the world of comic books, superheroes
get remade all the time. There was the campy Batman of the 1950s
who turned grim and gritty in the '80s. Green Arrow gave up his
gimmicky toys. Superman's appearance and backstory have been tweaked
many times over the years. This malleability of characters has
served comics companies well, as it keeps them relevant for a
new generation of fans. Now, comics are facing their fiercest
foe yet: technology. The two-dimensional, paper-based medium --
essentially unchanged for decades -- is slowly, reluctantly adapting
to a digital world. Illustrators have put away their pencils,
online artists are proliferating, comic heroes are crossing over
into an increasing number of effects-laden movies and comic fans
are downloading pages illegally. Needless to say, not everyone
is happy with the transition.
Then again, there are those who
embrace the Web as a new artistic medium, such as the people at
But back to Spider-Man... Snarkout
links to an overview of the Spider-Man "Clone
Saga," which I've never read but sounds pretty nifty. And don't
forget, today is Free
Comic Book Day! (discuss)
Bookninja's first anniversary is fast approaching (Aug 11) and I'm
hoping to throw a big party in Toronto. I have a brewery interested
in sponsoring the event (read, FREE BEER), but I suspect they're
going to want something in return. Perhaps not, but I was wondering
how you readers would take to a tastefully small ad on the site
for a period of about a month. Pete and I have never hoped to make
a dime off this thing (in fact, we lose money on it), but I thought
it might be nice to thank you all for tuning in with a great big
party. Free beer is the only way to go. So before I enter into negotiations,
what do you think? If it comes down to it, should I sell a smidge
of the soul for this? Post your thoughts in the discussion area
"Get in, get out, don't linger."
Book review space is getting slimmer every year, so should
we be putting up with the space taken by the ego of the reviewer?
Reviewing is an
important craft, and good criticism is a way of enjoying literature
more completely. Still, reviewers should keep in mind the famous
comment by the late Randall Jarrell to the effect that criticism
is like a telescope: It allows the viewer to see the stars, but
it can never be the stars. Academic critics already have discarded
this notion in making themselves the point of their literary essays,
and intellectual wannabes like Peck aren't far behind.
How about we start
by cutting the little bios at the end where reviewers get to plug
their own books? (discuss)
Penn on paper
Penn Jillette's grocery
store theory of writing:
In the old days,
about 150 years ago, Jillette says, a writer needed to reach about
3 to 5 percent of the public in order to make it. Now, with so
many more people in the world, a novelist can thrive by attracting
just a fraction of that population.
"You really can do the gay Catholic fisherman and make a
living," Jillette says. "When you go to the supermarket,
not everything is Coca-Cola or Frosted Flakes. You also have those
really weird, dry, crinkly olives."
I just like that he
swears so much. It makes me laugh when people swear. I find it funny.
I laugh. When people swear. 'Sfunny. (If you, dear reader who is
likely a writer, were to be found in a grocery store, what section
would it be? Me? Organic tinned marshmallows.) (discuss)
Tupac has been canonized
by the poetry establishment (that is to say, the academics).
Since his death eight
years ago, there has been a stampede to include him on American
college syllabuses: not just the "we take anyone" community
colleges, but institutions such as Harvard and Dartmouth solemnly
cogitate on the inner meaning of Tupac's lyrics and the printed
volume of his verse, The Rose that Grew from Concrete.
I, on the other hand,
have only been cannonized. (discuss)
New analysis of the
Voynich Manuscript says it may be nothing but gibberish. Philologists
and cryptographers set to tackle Coach House backlist next... (I
kid because I love, guys.) (discuss)
How did all those papers manage to have Clinton's nigh-1000 page
behemoth read and reviewed
within 24-hours of receiving the book? Is that humanly possible?
If not, what value does that place on the reviews, and for that
matter, the reviewers?
Are the book blitzers
Evelyn Wood speed-reading graduates, vampires who never sleep,
corrupt book-skimmers, or hacks? All of the blitzers who spoke
about their instant reviews defended their velocity, with some
saying their assignment wasn't to judge a masterpiece of literature
but to assess a public figure's retelling of events with which
everybody is mostly familiar.
I can dig the blitz
review becoming fashionable for poetry... Ten poems in and over
the shoulder it goes. In my head I'd hear the buzzer from Family
Feud - MAH! (discuss)
A strange little article that seems to only use last names (as though
it refers to something meatier in the paper - maybe a poem?), but
a nice bit on poet
Phillis Wheatley, the first published black American writer.
If I had this book I would immediately flip to look for
the word "dirty"
Rule no. 6: For God's sake, don't talk to each other
for what books to bring on holiday with your loved one so you
might lie on the beach together reading in peace. A sample:
4. There are many
books that he might like but which you definitely won't, and must
therefore be banned: anything by Paul Auster; sci-fi by Philip
K Dick; anything involving Nearly Falling Off a Mountain; all
'cyber-punk' (whatever that is); Titus Groan; business books.
Then again, if he wants to pack any of the above, ditch him and
go away with a Carol Shields-loving girlfriend instead.
Um, my partner and
I would kill for some time away to actually TALK TO EACH OTHER!
No baby, no thesis, no poetry, no magazines, no fackin' Bookninja
- just the opportunity to remember we like each other's brains.
This list, even though meant in jest, just makes me sad. People
who dig this article should consider separate vacations, minus the
"te vaca". (discuss)
swallows bitter pill
Our very own Jayson Blair. How charming. A medical reporter at the
National Post fabricated
quotes and names over a lengthy. A "brief note to readers"
appeared in Friday's paper as announcement. (From PFW)
Meet me at the barricade...
More on the
situation at Coach House.
To say that Coach
House "publishes" books would diminish the magic of
what really happens within the old brick walls of these interlinked
buildings on bpNichol Lane, named for the late poet who is now
its patron saint. It is an amazingly resilient little factory
where some of the most famous writers in Canada first learned
to read proofs and glue bindings. Paper and ink go in one door
and art comes out another.
This is really a ridiculous
state of affairs. How could anyone even question whether Coach House
is a historical/cultural landmark? We should all be rising up with
pitchforks and torches, people. In another time, and perhaps not
so diffuse a country, we would. This is the kind of thing people
should put differences aside for and march on City Hall. Is anyone
organizing a program of protest or resistance? Can you post information
to our boards about it? Thanks. (Thanks to JPF for the link.) (discuss)
Stephen Joyce considers
legal action to stop sale of James's love letter (though, I
don't know how much love was involved when he called Nora "a
strange-eyed whore" and basically wanted her to fart in his
Books as agents of death
I've learned some valuable lessons from this
article: you can either get high or get asthma from old books,
the Chinese push their school-aged children too much, and my bad
neck is likely a result of reading too much (as opposed to staring
at this screen three hours a night.)
Books are an often
overlooked hazard, sending more people to the emergency rooms
than many common sports. In case you were looking for an excuse
to put down that copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace, here
it is: in the United Kingdom more people are hurt by books (2,707
a year) than by training weights (1,884), trampolines (1,902)
or cricket balls and bats (1,174).
That's not even taking
into account the number of weightlifters who fell off trampolines
while reading books on cricket. (discuss)
Fight the Power!
Some academics love rap, as we learned yesterday, class. Some
hate it. As academics go, guess which ones are more popular....
I ask McWhorter the
question he's been asked countless times since throwing his hat
into the ring several years ago: why does he hate rap? Surprisingly,
he says he doesn't. "I like listening to rap, actually; the
problem is that it's very, very catchy. The poetry is interesting,
the rhythms are fantastic. But when I hear it, I hear it from
a distance. For some people this music is a religion, and I don't
mean religion in a hyperbolic way. It's at the point where a lot
of people have never known the world without it. It's all the
music they listen to. They wake up to it, they lose their virginity
to it, they go to sleep to it, it's what they hear when they go
to clubs. They have a vague sense of it as part of some political
movement. It's a body language, it's a way of speaking. It's a
creed. It's literally a religion."
He has little patience for intellectuals who seek to canonise
rappers such as Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. "Why must
Tupac Shakur be celebrated as Jesus Christ? The sucking noise
that you hear when you mention his name in a room full of engaged,
smart African-Americans is the same thing you hear in church when
Jesus is mentioned. That's a problem. Tupac Shakur was a moderately
talented thug who died. That's it. The idea that he is some sort
of Byron is just theatrical."
Um, can you say, "drive-by"?
Someone is definitely going to bust a cap in this guy's ass. (From
throw the ball. See Spot chase the ball into the street and get
killed by a car. See Dick and Jane grieve."
Dick, grieve. (discuss)
File under: Only in America...
I can't even begin to summarize this
tiny piece. (discuss)
Everything Zen --
I Don't Think So
Once again, poets demonstrate their tranquil, live-and-let-live
If there is ever the slightest
possibility of our finding ourselves in the same room or general
vicinity, I want to advise and plead with you to get away from
that place, fast, because if I find out about it, I assure you
it is distinctly possible that I will not be able to resist
giving you the crippling beating you so clearly masochistically
desire. I do not wish to kill you or hurt you, and so I beg
you to get away from me, without delay, if you realize we are
in the same room somewhere. Best, Franz.
If Franz Wright believes such
threats will intimidate anyone, he is to be pitied. I assure him
that I will come and go as I please, and would be glad to provide
him with an itinerary.
'There are 6,000
non-entities in this book.'
I never read Captain Corelli's Mandolin, but lots of
people I know like Louis de Bernieres. These people, however, do
not like his new one.
It's full of references to hook-nosed
Arabs and Jews, it is a hatred of the Islamic world balanced in
a pseudo way by saying "oh yes, the Christians did some wrong
things too". It is rotten with orientalism. I had just finished
reading Orientalism the other morning and I picked up this
wretched book. I wanted to throw it out the door. It is a stinking
rotten book written by a pseudo hopeless novelist.
Some Russian poets
The Russian Legacy project has some translated
poems online. I don't know Russian poetry, so I'll leave it
up to you to determine if the selection is worthwhile. (From Language
Now I finally know
who to kill
Wired finds the source
of that Bill Gates chain email.
Bryan Mack was no longer a student
by the time I came calling. He'd graduated in 2001 and had taken
a job programming databases at the Colorado School of Mines. He's
a regular guy. He answers his own phone. "I wasn't trying to trick
people," he told me. "It was just a joke between a couple friends."
Then he described how the joke got a little out of hand.
good is an agent? What bad? Has s/he even read your book?
Every working writer
has a trunkful of humiliating stories about their first attempts
to get published, so here's one of mine. Years ago, back when
I'd never sold a word, my new agent called me one morning with
great news—an editor at a certain large Manhattan publishing house
was intrigued by the book I was working on. Yes! I thought. Success
Mere hours later, a thick manila envelope thudded through the
mail slot of my San Francisco flat. And, lo, the return address
was for this very same publisher. My, they were eager. Impressed
by their lightning speed, I tore it open and pulled out a sheaf
of battered papers. It took a moment until I realized that I was
looking at the proposal for my own book—only, in an extraordinary
coincidence, it was one I had sent into their slush pile, un-agented
and unsolicited, a full 18 months earlier. This proposal was accompanied
by a brief but stunning handwritten note from their submissions
reader: She could not ever see my book being published. Not by
them—and not, for that matter, by anyone else.
I often ask myself
whether I should bother going the agent route for my next collection
of poetry. Then I bust out laughing. Then the laughter turns maniacal
and slowly descends into tears and sobbing. (discuss)
And the plagiarism continues...
But now, taking a cue from the Writers' Onion perhaps, journos
are just plagiarizing themselves. (discuss)
Harry Potter: Neo-liberal capitalist
of the state (the Ministry of Magic) are lampooned as ridiculous,
or incompetent or sinister. Harry goes to a "private"
school, whose "micro-society" is a "pitiless jungle"
which glorifies "individualism, excessive competition and
a cult of violence".
Public institutions are unable to protect individuals. Au contraire,
Harry Potter and his friends find they have to break the magical
state-imposed rules constantly to protect themselves from evil
I couldn't make that
shit up, people. But the French could... (From PFW)
Robert Burns's junk found!
Apparently most of it was down back of the couch, aye! (If they
ever find 36,000
items from my life, I suspect the majority of the collection
will be comprised of outrageous fuel receipts and Chipwhich wrappers.)
King & King & Family...
for gay parents, children of gay parents, and parents who are
children of gay parents. Get that? (discuss)
So when you're writing erotica, is it your arm you type
Microsoft, ever the bastion of ethical rightmindedness, has been
granted a patent for turning
the human body into a computer.
Many people today
carry a range of portable electronic devices, each with its own
keypad, speaker, display, processing unit and power supply. The
idea behind the patent is to get rid of some of these items. If
such gizmos were networked, it would be possible to have, say,
just one keypad for a mobile phone, an MP3 music player and a
PDA. The keypad might even be a person's forearm. As the patent
puts it, “The physical resistance offered by the human body can
be used in implementing a keypad or other input device as well
as estimating distances between devices and device locations.
In accordance with the present invention, by varying the distance
on the skin between the contacts corresponding to different keys,
different signal values can be generated representing different
inputs.” In other words you can, in theory, type on your skin.
There's something creepy
about this, in an I'm-not-Christian- but-I-was-raised-as-one-and-feel-like-God's-going-to-get-
Linguistic map of the world
How cunning! It's a
map that lists the countries of the world in their own language
and scripts. (From Language
The producer of There's Something About Mary has, uh,
Alice in Wonderland.
Beddor said: "I guess I didn't
realise how beloved Lewis Carroll's classic was. I was just seeking
revenge. My grandmother and my mother made me read this book when
I was 10 or 11 and I thought it was a terrible girls' book. This
is my revenge; I wanted to rewrite it as a book boys would also
I think I'll stick
to the video
A New York typeface
The choice of the Gotham
typeface for the cornerstone of the... Freedom Tower... God,
I hate typing that... anyway, the typeface embodies the New York
The typeface, Gotham, deliberately
evokes the blocky, no-nonsense, unselfconscious architectural
lettering that dominated the streetscape from the 1930s through
the 1960s in building names, neon signs, hand-lettered advertisements
and lithographed posters.
The Brits love their
Meanwhile in Canada, we have Stratford and Bard on the Beach.
And let's not forget Shaw. Pushing the boundaries, we are.
In theaters all over London these
days, debates rage about power and justice, about leadership and
its abuses. From the National's production of Euripides' 410 B.C.
Iphigenia at Aulis to the New Ambassador's up-to-date Guantanamo:
Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, curtains
rise on works that confront the morality of the coalition's invasion
of Iraq and inquire into government's dubious motives.
And then my character
is going to stick a bomb up George Bush's ass... where it will no
doubt kill Cheney
We all know we're not supposed to say "bomb" on airplanes.
But really, what's
wrong with writing it on a note to yourself so you can remember
a character's dialogue?
Without further explanation, they
took me to the onsite police station, where I waited for an "interview"
with the Transportation Security Administration. By then I was
being accused of writing "bomb" on a piece of paper and waving
it around for people in the back of the plane to see. While two
policemen guarded the door, the honcho behind the desk informed
me that my choice of dialogue was unfortunate, that life was not
a stage play and that the tiniest thing can ignite fear in American
travelers these days. He wanted a summary of my novel's plot to
get the context for why I'd written what I had.
This is what
passes for news?*
Oprah's Book Club
may help sell millions of books to Americans, and slam poetry
may have engendered a youthful new breed of wordsmith, but the
nation is still caught in a tide of indifference when it comes
to literature. That is the sobering profile of a new survey to
be released today by the National Endowment for the Arts, which
describes a precipitous downward trend in book consumption by
Americans and a particular decline in the reading of fiction,
poetry and drama.
"In an age where there's no canon, where there are so many
other forms of information, and where we're returning to medieval-like
oral culture based on television," he said, "I think
that's pretty impressive, quite frankly." Mr. Starr continued:
"We should be alarmed, I suppose, but the horse has long
since run out of the barn. There are two distinct cultures that
have evolved, and by far the smaller is the one that's tied up
with book and high culture. You can get through American life
and be very successful without anybody ever asking you whether
Shylock is an anti-Semitic character or whether `Death in Venice'
is better than `The Magic Mountain.' "
Yes, and it's good
to be obese, loud bullies and we should embrace our over-privileged
inner imperialists. (discuss)
I love it (last item)
Americans sink to our level. Here it's recent Pulitzer winner
Franz Wright (who we know, from the multitude of articles a few
months back, is unstable) and "the
most hated man in American poetry", William Logan.
If there is ever
the slightest possibility of our finding ourselves in the same
room or general vicinity, I want to advise and plead with you
to get away from that place, fast, because if I find out about
it, I assure you it is distinctly possible that I will not be
able to resist giving you the crippling beating you so clearly
masochistically desire. I do not wish to kill you or hurt you,
and so I beg you to get away from me, without delay, if you realize
we are in the same room somewhere.
Well, truth be told,
it's a whole lot lower than we tend to go in print, but it's pretty
damn funny. I wish a few of us would threaten each other.... in
writing. (From Tingle Alley)
Iraqi history almost sold for same amount as A-list author's
Just to put it in perspective for you... What an
obscene world we live in, eh? (discuss)
Sound like a hockey league or delivery service to you? Then you
aren't a Frenchman* - pardon me - you ain't a Frenchman.
The strength and
weakness of Levy's work probably emanate from the same root: It
is neither traditional journalism nor traditional philosophy.
Unlike conventional reporters, he says he does not hesitate to
use pretexts or undercover identities to get stories in high-risk
environments or to blur fact and fiction by imagining a protagonist's
Poet loses face
causes ruckus. (discuss)
More 2Pac ichor
Now everyone's looking to take an uzi slug in the
For the last time,
"artistic merit" doesn't mean we want to see children peforming
unspeakable sex acts... adults, yes, children, no.
A big issue in the recent Canadian election was the proposed
reworking of the country's child-porn laws. The debate went something
like this: "If you're not against a complete ban of all representations
of youth in sexual situations, or hey, even non-sexual situations
that some reader/viewer could perceive to be sexual, well, then
you must support child porn!"
Unfortunately, in both
Canada and the U.S., this has been the position taken by many media
types as well, who have written angry editorials about judges defending
child pornography by refusing to strike down "artistic merit" laws,
etc., without looking critically at the issues. Thankfully, the
comics media has understood what's really at stake -- freedom of
latest cause has been fighting the Child Online Protection Act,
which was intended to protect children from viewing online porn
by limiting people's ability to post material online that may cause
our children to go astray.
Retailers, publishers, and comic
art dealers would have faced potential chill on what kind of work
they could show on their sites. Could someone selling an original
R. Crumb, Reed Waller, or Milo Manara page depicting sex show
that page on their website? Would Last Gasp, which presently requires
all browsers to state that they're 18 to enter, need to get a
credit card from anyone entering their site or risk prosecution?
Could Bud Plant face prosecution because he shows samples and
covers of adult products on his website?
The answer is that all of the
above examples would be vulnerable to the lines drawn by COPA,
and we feel that's unconstitutional. The businesses mentioned
above are responsible businesses, and shouldn't have their rights
to responsibly sell protected speech chilled by this law. Likewise,
creators shouldn't need to worry that they could lose their livelihood
and freedom if they post a story speaking to adult themes in a
Golden Age comics
These are so
bad they're funny and then not... but then funny again! (When
I was in grad school I always had my suspicions about James Joyce,
but who knew he was the Anarcho
Dictator of Death?) (From Snarkout)
Welcome to the 20th century, with the 1913
Webster's Dictionary. (From Memepool)
America, the Year 1984
What a shame. What a crying shame that country is becoming. And
now it's making the
leap from bully to tyrant.
House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by
the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of
the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's
The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210,
with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its
way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit
expired, but Republican leaders kept the vote open for about 20
more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially
supported the provision to change their votes.
Note: trawling conservative
scumbags looking to pick a fight can save their hate mail. It will
go unopened. Your country is falling to pieces - you and your willful
ignorance are the reason. Go do something productive. Maybe read
a little. (discuss)
Ninja Rein's in Top Eight Percent!
I heard the
grocer's putting his apostrophe in places we don't even want
to know about....
One of the epidemic
errors of the past 30 years - unnecessary, misplaced or omitted
apostrophes in the words "its"and "it's" -
has dwindled to only about 8% of people, possibly because the
mistake has drawn so much ridicule. It was dubbed "the grocer's
apostrophe" because of its unnecessary use in plural words
on shop signs or placards (Price's Slashed).
There are plenty more
mixed up homophones where this comes from. (discuss)
One "strange-eyed whore"? £240,800
Getting her to fart in your face? Priceless.
in the NYT.* (Has there yet been a significant story on the
details of his wife's murder/suicide? This is the first mention
I've seen of it since it happened.) (discuss)
Iraqi writers still oppressed, but now by situation instead
During the decades
under Hussein, poets and other creative writers practiced their
craft secretly or not at all. For all his brutality, Hussein was
enough to recognize the power of language when infused with
ideas and with passion, and he silenced writers suspected of using
words as their weapons to oppose his regime.
Oppression still exists in Iraq, for bombings have made many people
afraid to leave their homes, and fundamentalists who would oppose
the honesty of literature that touches on the honesty of humanity
- sensuality, sexuality, religious skepticism, spiritual exploration
- remain a threat.
But in the steamy, broken building that serves as the offices
of the Iraqi Writers Union, in the capital's busy Karada District,
poets, novelists, essayists and short-story writers now gather
daily to read their work aloud. They share photocopied versions
of manuscripts that under Hussein would have led to a slashed
tongue, a severed hand, years of prison, maybe death.
Old news is still news to us
Well, remember yesterday we linked to (for a second time, no less!)
to Franz Wright going around the bend on William Logan? Well, it
seems the story is somewhat stale and most of us mainstream bloggers
are only coming to it late. Bookslut digs up an old blog entry from
someone who got to the story before us... and
got punished for it - by WHACKJOB WRIGHT HIMSELF. I'm no fan
of boorish Logan (well, not always), but Wright makes it hard not
to sympathize with anyone he's currently at odds with. (discuss)
"Modern politicians don't read"?
do you mean? What about Hop on Pop? I ask you again, what about
don't read. Tony Blair may claim Ivanhoe as his favourite book,
but he is clearly a John Grisham man. His bibliophilic reputation
is unlikely ever to recover from the tale of him meeting Ian McEwan
at a party and telling him he had several of his works hanging
on the walls of Number 10. Margaret Thatcher said she liked to
"re-read" Frederick Forsyth novels on holiday. William
Hague had a weedy fondness for The Wind in the Willows. John Major
predictably liked Trollope. Oh, for the days of Gladstone's classical
scholarship and Disraeli's novelistic nous.
But suddenly there is hope. Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister-in-waiting,
this week delivered a lecture which suggests that he will soon
need a larger red box - to accommodate all the texts he is apparently
devouring. The list of citations in his British Council lecture
on national identity was formidable - Linda Colley's Britons:
Forging the Nation 1707-1837; Adam Nicholson's God's Secretaries:
The Making of the King James Bible; Norman Davies's The Isles:
A History; Andrew Marr's The Day Britain Died; Bernard Crick's
biography of George Orwell. He may have got the title of Marr's
book wrong and given rather sketchy details of the others, but
if this were a university essay it would surely merit an alpha.
Hughes to get poetry trail
is a switch from the regular trail of dead wives thing... (I
hate myself for going there.) (discuss)
I think this
is supposed to be a negative review, but having read it, I desperately
want to get a copy of this book...
French novelist and
screenwriter Emmanuel Carrère takes unprecedented liberties
in his startling and disorienting "biography" of renowned
American sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. Carrère gets so
far inside the head of the deeply troubled author, who died in
1982, that he re-creates in great detail Dick's visions, hallucinations,
thought processes and at one point, even a forgotten dream. That
raises the question, variations of which arise often in reading
this book: If the dream eluded Dick, how was Carrère able
to capture it so faithfully?
Carrère approaches his subject less as a portraitist than
as a psychic partner, a fellow traveler. He writes with such conviction
and authority, it almost obscures the fact that much of his information
is obviously manufactured. The resulting text is remarkably vivid,
intimate, often haunting but breathtakingly presumptuous.
Saddam the new V.C. Andrews?
It appears his
novels are still coming. How lucky for us. The laughter can
go on! (discuss)
It is clear that Nick Hornby must die
William Shatner, of Tambourine Man fame, is set
to release his second solo album. It appears kitsch IS a kind
Captain Kirk teamed
up with Ben Folds (yes, that Ben Folds) to create this pop-driven
new album. The majority of the album was written by the duo, with
the exceptions of "Trying," co-written by Folds and
novelist Nick Hornby (yes, the guy behind High Fidelity)
That which we have
long feared has finally come to pass. Go to plan Zeta, code Blue.
There's no place
Aussies wonder if it's all right to make fun of the Brits.
Let's get some of the racist insults
out of the way first.
"Send Slopes back, police course
told." "Pity a poor Jap: envied at home, insulted abroad." "Japies
still fighting the bore war." "Am I a racist Paki-basher? No,
I just hate pomposity." "Finally, real fun with a Chink." Offended?
Surprised that a newspaper as reputable as the Herald would
use such loaded, pejorative language?
Don't be. All the above are genuine
headlines, taken from mainstream Sydney newspapers. In each one
word has been changed. Instead of slope, Jap, japie, Paki or chink,
the original headline writer used another term: "Pom".
Are comic books
the way of the future?
article puts forth a pretty simplistic idea of what comics are,
to say nothing of novels and poetry, but hey, it has nice pictures.
Comic books are what novels used
to be -- an accessible, vernacular form with mass appeal -- and
if the highbrows are right, they're a form perfectly suited to
our dumbed-down culture and collective attention deficit. Comics
are also enjoying a renaissance and a newfound respectability
right now. In fact, the fastest-growing section of your local
bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and
so-called graphic novels.
Publishers in Iran have
had to alter Tintin comics to avoid having them banned.
This means they have "censored"
a lot of stuff out of the Tintin stories. They have "islamified"
Tintin, and had they failed to do so they probably would never
have gotten permission to publish the books.
A lot of people, certainly those
like me who have read the original editions, hate these new ones
though. Imagine Captain Haddock drinking "lemonade" all the time
instead of whiskey, or imagine Castafiore wearing stockings and
long-sleeves, and then you will know why we hate them.
Tintinesque also points
readers to Tintinologist,
home of the "Cult of Tintin" and pics
of Tintin shops. (From Metafilter)
A planned book burning ceremony by The Jesus Church (there are others?)
has been thwarted
by county fire codes.
Officials said the
county's air quality division prohibits the transporting of materials
from the city to the county for burning.
Breedlove said a city fire inspector suggested shredding the offending
material, but Breedlove said that wouldn't seem biblical.
Sweet merciful crap.
This has to be something from a Coen Brothers film... Nope, it's
just the good ol' Xtian right being ornery agin. (Thanks to ninja
reader Susan for the link.) (discuss)
Now where did I put my
Robert McCrum says there's
too much innovation in literature these days and we need to return
to the classics. Yes, it's a scary world out there, full of
wolves and Nazis and books that make my head hurt.
During recent years, we've seen
novels in verse; novels composed without the vowel 'a'; novels
narrated from the point of view of pets; novels of gothic slaughter;
novels of colossal lust; novels heaving with obscenity. And, painful
though it is to admit this, a lot of these books have been astonishingly
bad, not to say frightful.
I say we don't have
enough novels of gothic slaughter, colossal lust or heaving with
obscenity. I'm waiting for the one that combines all three. (discuss)
see Gatsby as a Lexus man myself
The New York Times and BMW bring you The
Great Gatsby online (PDF link). (From Maud)
Are young people
reading the daily newspapers?
At the dailies I've worked at, the grey-haired editors have
always worried obsessively about how
to capture the young-readers market. For some reason, they always
assume this means articles about bikini waxes and teen sex rather
than good news stories. To which I usually say from my cubicle far,
far on the other side of the newsroom, "But the people that would
read those articles don't read. Why not write stories for readers?"
Shortly thereafter, I find myself at a new paper....
But the most pressing issue relates
to the reason why young people don't read dailies. If you've already
seen the news (or laughed at it with The Daily Show), and
you're faced with a banal paper, wouldn't you rather peruse The
Onion on the way to work? Young people are drawn to attitude,
Nieman Reports concludes. They like being provoked, as long as
it's not gratuitous, and they enjoy writers who express strongly
held beliefs, whether or not they agree. My generation is much
more intolerant. Maybe that's why we're so quick to see media
conspiracies, and why we require such studied -- and phony --
neutrality from the dailies.
There's a new
kind of crazy person taking over Washington Square...
Forget that whacko with the sword and cape - the fall's latest fashion
in crazy is "the booknut". A
Midtown bookfair is headed south* and some of the Greenwich
Village residents aren't pleased. (Which just goes to show how dead
the West Village really is...) (discuss)
Allow me to illustrate my point...
another author's text (as opposed to doing your own picture
book) is very close to acting, or rather being a whole company
of actors, stage director and costume designer rolled into one.
You do not always meet the author. Sometimes, if you do, it can
be a disadvantage because the person you encounter socially may
turn out to be disconcertingly unlike the possessor of the imagination
at work in the text. The job involves trying to get a feeling
for the story, the essence of themselves which all authors leave
in what they write and which shapes the characters they invent.
The aim, though you may not always achieve it, is to give your
author, publisher and reader not what they want exactly, but what
they never dreamed they could have.
Eggers falls short
I wish everything The Dave wrote was this
short. Some of them are actually pretty good! (From PFW)
Take Heart, Loser!
Every now and then we all need to read one
of those rejected-a- million-times-and-now-famous stories. Here
you go. Put the razor down for another day... (discuss)
Neruda turns 100, beds many beautiful women from grave
go wild! (discuss)
Fatwarama: the opera
Bartender, can I get one of them Death By Association cocktails?
I'll never cease to be surprised by the lineup of people dying to
associate themselves with Rushdie. This time in making
an opera of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. (discuss)
The dawn of "Liberati"
am so suing this guy...
The Oxford English
Dictionary is monitoring the infant word's progress and reports
that its vital signs are good: with repeated usage it could grow
up to become a proper dictionary word. Its entry will no doubt
cite "liberal" and "literati" as its derivations,
but it is its evocation of Liberace that truly gives it life.
All he is saying, is give
Proust a chance... (discuss)
In da guttah
The Cultural Gutter
is an interesting concept.
This site is updated
Thursday at noon with a new article about an artistic pursuit
generally considered to be beneath consideration. The geeky triumvirate
of science-fiction, comics and videogames forms the core, with
a fourth week given over to a guest to discuss another variety
of intriguing trash.
While the writers have considerable enthusiasm for their subjects,
they don't let it numb their critical faculties. Tossing away
the shield of journalistic objectivity and refusing the shovel
of fannish boosterism, they write in the hopes of starting honest
and intelligent discussions about these oft-enjoyed but rarely
article is by occasional ninja, frequent personality, Nathaniel
Moore, and deals with his desire to beat the snot out of his best
friend in celebration of turning 30. (Trust me, Nathaniel, tequila
is just a better idea.) (discuss)
You know, it's pretty darn easy to make fun of Cheney's slack-jawed
possibly-former-cokehead-drunk oven-mitt Bush. But you've
got to be pretty clever to come up with this baby.* (discuss)
What for are English
I thought I used to know. Now I don't know. Whatever they're
doesn't seem to have anything to do with literature anymore.
And this is the weird thing: they
don't even mean "what for is a university?" -- they mean "what
for are English professors?" There are tons of answers to the
first question: to teach students, to examine political configurations
and economic policies, to study earthquakes and tsunamis, and
of course to help build fighter jets or antigravity rooms or more
muscular bionic arms. But what are English professors for? They
teach, of course, but they don't help out with economic policy,
they have little to say about natural disasters, and they can't
build futuristic prostheses. And the better the applied sciences
get at answering these lurking purpose-questions -- "Hey, check
out this new laser-equipped invisibility frock we just made in
the lab" -- the more their colleagues over in the English building
seem like starry-eyed, impractical romantics, or, less charitably,
anachronistic buffoons. Despite her clotted jargon and fustian
grammar, Ghazoul is making a serious point: more and more people
are wondering what the hell English professors are doing and why
they should be allowed to keep doing it, and they need to reformulate
place is trying to be a physical Abebooks.com. How quaint.
It was a year to the day since
Blaenavon, the small coal and iron town in South Wales, launched
an audacious experiment -- to build a new prosperity based on
second-hand books in a post-industrial graveyard of dead jobs.
takes out the cork for another "back in my day" call to
kids today, I tell ya...
Who are the readers
and who are the nonreaders? It's not as simple as you might think.
It's not a distinction that goes by social class, and it doesn't
go by income group. It isn't a male thing or a female thing or
a matter of sexual orientation or so-called white or so-called
black. It's a broad generic distinction between the people who
have a fundamental passion for books and those who don't. We haven't
yet found an adequate way to explain it and, frankly, I'm not
sure that even education can affect it.
If there is a drop-off in reading today, it's partly because it's
so much harder to become a reader than it used to be. In my generation
(I'm going to celebrate my 74th birthday soon), we had radio.
We had movies. But there was no television. There were no computers.
So, as a child, I read all the time. I read in bed and out of
bed. I read whenever I could sneak off, whenever I could get to
a corner by myself.
Some of this makes
total sense, but god, would someone save him from himself with the
"blah blah blah, two miles, blah blah blah, snow three feet
deep, blah blah blah, over hot coals and broken glass, blah blah
blah, just to get a slap in the face and we liked it!" (discuss)
Keeping America safe...
... from foreign
...as a journalist,
even from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with the
United States, I should have applied for a so-called I (for information)
visa. Because I had not, I was interrogated for four hours, body-searched,
fingerprinted, photographed, handcuffed and forced to spend the
night in a cell in a detention facility in central Los Angeles,
and another day as a detainee at the airport before flying back
to London. My humiliating and physically very uncomfortable detention
lasted 26 hours.
You can bet this would
be national news in the US if it happened to one of their reporters.
In fact, it would be called a hostage situation. (discuss)
What you're getting right now from reading all this sugar, baby!
But seriously folks, it's a
very grave situation...
Movies are no longer
"films" except through historical accident, for every
frame that hits the public's eyeballs has been treated by digital
effects. Yesterday's Japanese transistor radio is today's iPod
crammed with 10,000 songs. Television, architecture, industrial
design: scarcely a field of creative endeavour goes uncyberised.
There's a dark side to this, growing darker every year. Consider
that ongoing tumble and scramble inside your own computer: processed
words, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, email, websites,
jpegs, mpegs, MP3s... Try to imagine conveying that mess to your
grandchildren as your heritage. The computer is a fantastic gizmo:
your great-grandparents probably never saw one. But the ultimate
gizmo is a clock. Computers obsolesce quickly and are miserably
vulnerable to clocks.
I actually have a diskette
of files so old they were written in a processor called "First
Word" in the early nineties. My opus could be in there... It
could be a heart wrenching tale of Bradford, ON, and the inbred
yokels I knew there. I can't open these files, yet I keep the diskette
around as though I might one day find the "opener", probably
down the back of the couch with some bottle caps. (discuss)
Gay bookstore gets a break
The judge overseeing the 20 year feud between the knuckledragging
bigots at Canada Customs and Vancouver's Little Sister's bookshop
has granted "advanced
costs" to the bookstore.
In her funding decision,
Justice Elizabeth Bennett said advanced costs are ordered in "rare
and exceptional circumstances."
She said Customs may not be applying the artistic merit test as
decided in the obscenity writings case of B.C.'s John Robin Sharpe
when detaining books.
This seems to be a
good thing. Can someone explain it to me? (discuss)
are not certain the used-book phenomenon is a problem worth addressing,
but others in the industry have already made up their minds.
"We think it's not good for the industry and it has an effect,
but we can't measure it," said Paul Aiken, executive director
of the Authors Guild, a trade group. "There has always been
used-book sales, but it's always been a background noise sort
of thing. Now it's right there next to the new book on Amazon."
I've always found it
disconcerting to see four or five copies of my book
for sale, "used", at Amazon for half the retail price.*
Presumably these books are part of what my publicists calls "publicity"
-- the book thrown into the vacuum and then likely sold by a disinterested
reviewer. I knew a guy who used to review art books and lived on
the proceeds from his sales of review copies he didn't want to keep.
He made many times more money off these than the reviews themselves.
RIP: Fred Cogswell
Poet, editor, and mentor dead
at 86. (discuss)
No one talks about this side of professional wrestling...
Mostly because it's major
boring shit... Gosh, these anabolic, porn-pushing dimwits are
doing so much to shape the minds of our youth. We should thank them
and then put them down with tranquilizer darts. (discuss)
The other day I was reading Nicholas Basbanes' Patience
and Fortitude, a comprehensive book about great libraries
of the past (bought for me by the ever-thoughtful Press
Gal), and I came across mention of the Cassinese script, which
had its origins in the Monte Cassino abbey that was destroyed in
the Second World War. Intrigued, I started browsing online and was
immediately sidetracked by the articles
about graphic design and typography on Typotheque,
which led me to a consideration of typeface
fashion, which then resulted in me reading about the history
fonts at 4 a.m. I've revealed too much about myself, haven't I?
Double your nerd
A gallery of Ace
sci-fi double-novel covers. I think I had some of these as a
young 'un. (From Snarkout)
The Philip Larkin-Radiohead
Apparently it has something to do with a rabbit
Before Radiohead's "Myxomatosis,"
off last year's Hail to the Thief, no prominent artist
had dared speak of that blindness-inducing, genital-swelling rabbit
disease. Or had they? Philip Larkin (1922‚1985) prefigured Thom
Yorke & Co. by nearly 40 years in his poem of the same name, published
in The Less Deceived and featured in the recent Collected
Poems (FSG). It sounds even more like Radiohead than Radiohead
("Caught in the centre of a soundless field/While hot inexplicable
hours go by/What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?"),
which could be why the song sounds less like Radiohead than anything
else on the album.
is he Crouched when he should have ducked...
Stanley Crouch, the bigot who called Peck "a troubled queen",
a shot at Peck... literally.
At Tartine, Crouch
shook Peck's hand, then, as a follow-up, smacked him in the face,
saying "if you ever did anything like that [presumably referring
to the review] again, it'll be much worse."
According to Gawker,
who lives with Peck, Crouch has a long history of arguing with his
hands. If I were Peck (and I were living in a litigious country)
I'd have punched his lights out and then sued his fat ass. (discuss)
We don't need another hero
Isn't it about time someone told the
stories of the people who are in danger of being crushed by superheroes
like Batman and Superman as they toss cars and boomerangs around
in the pursuit of truth, justice and... aw, forget it. The rest
doesn't apply anymore... (discuss)
Write what you know?
Should minority writers be steering clear of writing
about minority issues?
...it seems that
writers who happen to be members of minority groups are getting
pigeonholed. I think it has become understood and expected, at
least by book editors and English teachers and perhaps by society
as a whole, that minorities write about minorities and that white
people write about everything else. With very rare exceptions,
any essay about a nonracial issue - such as history, politics,
science or nature - comes from a Caucasian.
Plagiarism: it's not just for students anymore...
After all that work, to see someone
else walk away with a degree... There are times I can sympathize
with the impulse to commit crimes of passion...
While I was resigned
to fighting plagiarists in my classroom, I had not expected to
have to fight one for credit for my own dissertation. A doctoral
student at Northeast Urban University -- I'll call him Mr. X --
presented my dissertation as his own. He received a Ph.D. and
took an excellent research job at Prominent African University.
Through my subsequent efforts, he lost his degree, his job, and
While gathering evidence to prove that my dissertation was actually
mine, I confronted many dark thoughts about this profession. Mr.
X must have thought that he would get away with his theft because
nobody reads dissertations. Was he correct? Was all that work
simply a hoop to jump through to get the Ph.D.? What is the value
of a doctoral degree if dissertation committees take as little
care with their students as Mr. X's did with him?
And from a colleague.
I do declare... This could never happen in the poetry community.
Could it? Could it?! (discuss)
Check out the Onion's top
item in the right column, under "In the News". Get
that? And while you're at it, read
this, just because it's so hysterically fucking funny. (discuss)
At the Quinte Hotel
-- the movie?
Has anyone seen this movie
version of "At the Quinte Hotel" where Tragically Hip singer
Gord Downie plays Al Purdy? (discuss)
When did the CBC
become relevant again?
Woe and Wonder is a cheesy title for this site, but it's full
of great info ranging from the use of split infinitives in Star
Trek to the history of the word "work." (discuss)
I'm beginning to
think America is divided less between Democrats and Republicans
and more between the literate and the illiterate.
McSweeney's presents the Future
Dictionary of America. My favourite: Author T.C. Boyle offers
several definitions of "environment," including "a conceptual space,
like the airspace over Iraq, which will create a sucking void if
not filled to repleteness with high explosives." (From Elegant
There's something fatally flawed in this
You have a story
to tell, an important message to impart. You think it would make
a good book.
But you're not a celebrity
or well-known outside your immediate circle. Your walls are papered
with rejection letters from mainstream publishers.
Here's a secret: Print-on-demand publishing.
See, I would rewrite
You have a story
to tell, an important message to impart. You think it would make
a good book.
But you're not a celebrity
or well-known outside your immediate circle. Your walls are papered
with rejection letters from mainstream publishers.
Here's a secret: You probably should take a hint from the rejection
letters and get into "business" or whatever it is your
parents always wanted you to do; editors have always been a barrier
to publication for a reason, hack.
But I'm in a foul mood
tonight, so take that with a grain of salt (and a pound of aspirin).
Speaking of DIY
In a more charitable moment, I give you the opposite of the above
DIY author who hits it big. Guess who'll never have to self-publish
again... See, there are exceptions to the rule that most self-published
stuff sucks. And you are an exception too. And next it's you. You're
the one. Spend the money, spend the dream-time, spend the heart
beats. You're going to be the next big thing, I swear it. (discuss)
Chekhov and Charlie Brown
I wonder if there is a point in Chekhov's oeuvre in which his one
of characters says, "Waah wah, waah waah waah waahh."
disciplined and celebrity-shy as Schulz, and no less prolific,
Chekhov shared a similarly wry view of the world. His understated
works continue to enjoy a worldwide appeal today because of the
universality of their subject matter. Chekhov was a Russian through
and through, but the problems of human interaction which he explores
transcend national boundaries, and have not changed essentially
since his death.
Chekhov's astounding range, his ambiguities, his glorious sense
of the absurd, have won him followers among writers as diverse
as Somerset Maugham, Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor, John
Cheever and Eudora Welty. Raymond Carver, whose own late story,
Errand, deals with Chekhov's final hours, unequivocally described
him as the greatest short story writer who has ever lived.
Odd access point for
the subject, but... whatever works. (discuss)
Books dying, William
Shatner somehow to blame
Must... read.... books.... Can't... seem to... type at normal....
speed... Another what
a shame books are losing out to computers bit, but it's kind
of cute. (discuss)
Kook Crouch gets best publicity of his life
You gotta wonder if he just wanted to make
headlines, or some friends... Sounds like this
nutbar could use both. (discuss)
guys have all the luck.
"I'm the luckiest
man alive," Gorman said last week, in Toronto en route to
Montreal for his 16-gig performance at JFL. "I ended up with
a best-selling book about my inability to write the book I was
supposed to be writing."
I bleed envy - from
self-inflicted wounds. (discuss)
New award for
It may seem somewhat loosely defined, but Maggie de Vries has won
the inaugural George
Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Canadian Literature. (From
Save the Book! Americans aren't reading!
More on the
decline of the American reader... (And we all know that when
Americans stop something, it just disappears from the planet as
though it never happened.)
Underlying the questions
what is happening and why is a deeper question: Who cares? Why
is literary reading important? Gioia's answer, in a telephone
interview, emphasized the social and political importance of literature.
"Reading a novel puts you in the mind of another person,"
Gioia said. "It develops your ability to imagine the world
from another perspective. It helps us work together to build a
society in which all people prosper together."
Relax, America. The
Book isn't in danger. Only the American book is... (discuss)
Parental ninja units,
Here's a list
of books for your summertime burdens. You know who I'm talking
to and who your kids are.... Go read somewhere! Do you see this
thing I've got attached to my ear? It's called a phone! Go! Go!
The bookseller of Tel Aviv
of supposedly reclusive antiquarian bookseller to drum not sales,
but buying opportunities.
has a purpose," Robinson comments coolly. "Not for people
to buy books from me but for people to call and sell me the books
they have at home. For that end I will tell you all the truths
and half-lies of my life. People have books at home. For many
people they are objects. For a few they are nostalgic items which
they find hard to get rid of, and for others they are a continuing
source of knowledge. The latter won't sell to me. I want all the
others to call."
I have a feeling I
would be penniless in about 20 seconds if I were to visit this store.
(Correction: pennilesser.) (discuss)
Writer in the
Um, is it just me or is this not uncommon. Don't many writers
work in bookstores? See, because we need day jobs and we don't
want to take a step lower and become a publicist...
The curious sight
of a writer employed in a bookstore is not lost on Shea: "Not
unlike a farmer hanging around the dairy section. A fashion designer
lurking in the boutique. . . . The quarterback hiding in the back
seat during the fans' ride home."
Uh, get over yourself,
lady. Running back, maybe. Quarterback? That's always the blonde
Blake's roots run deep
Vats roight, guvnah! But no one's quite sure where
they run to. (discuss)
New Cohen album at 70
Leonard is giving us a
new album for his 70th... apparently the record consists of
two one-tonne boulders being rubbed together for 86 minutes. That
or else he's still "singing"... (discuss)
Oh, the pain! The
pain of it all!
I just can't bear it. These poetry.com crooks have hoodwinked another
poor sucker into believing he's an international star when everyone
they publish gets their poem on the first page of an individualized
book... It's one thing to get a boost if you're never going to find
out, it's another when your local paper is broadcasting your naivety
all over the county. I say again, when is someone going to stop
these people? Or wait a minute... is the so-called International
Library of Poetry doing real poetry editors everywhere a service
by maintaining the largest slush pile on the planet? (discuss)
The funny lives on
bequeaths jokes to fellow comedy writer. Let's hope said jokes
don't have expiration date like most humour from the last fifty
Think the Left
Behind books are harmless idiot tracts written by one idiot
for more idiots?
Of course, there have always been
preachers on the margins of the religious right thundering on
about the end of the world. But it's doubtful that such a fanatic
believer has ever had such a direct pipeline to the White House.
Five years ago, as Bush was gearing up his presidential campaign,
he made a little-noticed pilgrimage to a gathering of right-wing
Christian activists, under the auspices of a group called the
Committee to Restore American Values. The committee, which assembled
about two dozen of the nation's leading fundamentalist firebrands,
was chaired by LaHaye. At the time, many evangelicals viewed Bush
skeptically: Despite his born-again views, when he was governor
of Texas, Bush had alienated many of the state's Christian-right
activists for failing to pursue a sufficiently evangelical agenda.
On the national level, he was an unknown quantity.
That day, behind closed doors,
LaHaye grilled the candidate. He presented Bush with a lengthy
questionnaire on issues such as abortion, judicial appointments,
education, religious freedom, gun control and the Middle East.
What the preacher thought of Bush's answers would largely determine
whether the Christian right would throw its muscle behind the
A Dutch university student has scanned
the precursor to Alice in Wonderland and put it online.
That Alice sure did get around. (From Boing
Vancouver Word on
the Street is in trouble
The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch has cut
them off because of a change in funding guidelines. That's it,
no more slots for me!
Organizers said they have until
July 23 to prepare the appeal. WOTS project coordinator Sherry
McGarvie told the Straight the main issue her team is focusing
on is the commission's contention the group does not constitute
an ongoing program, but is a once-a-year fair. Recent changes
to the guidelines require all events to be "part of an ongoing
program being delivered by an eligible organization" with a "direct
benefit to the community throughout the year". "The people who
perform at Word on the Street get much more media coverage and
contracts to perform, and that affects our writers all year round,"
McGarvie argued, adding the festival annually launches and then
runs the Family Stories adult-literacy project across the province.
The Writers' Union of Canada is the latest group to weigh in with
a letter arguing its case: "We are intensely concerned when we
see increased cutbacks to money originally earmarked for culture
when gaming revenues continue to rise," stated executive director
Deborah Windsor. (WOTS has received the funding since 1998.) WOTS
is inviting other supporters to write letters to the Gaming Policy
and Enforcement Branch via WOTS Vancouver, 901-207 West Hastings
Street, Vancouver V6B 1H7, or faxed to 604-669-3701.
for Writers) (discuss)
On the cover of
That would be, what is Doonesbury,
Coach House saved?
Shadowy minions report that the Globe
carried a small piece (link found by PFW)
yesterday announcing that Coach House Books has been designated
a cultural heritage site by the Toronto Preservation Board. The
fate of the Press is still in the hands of Council. Luckily they
are stalwart cultural activists devoid of ties to corporate interests,
every one.... (PFW
also links to this
petition, which you should sign, just in case.) (discuss)
American literacy hobbled by Dr. Evil... I mean, Seuss
Is The Cat in the Hat to blame for a
lost generation of readers?
Ever since the 1983
report A Nation at Risk (issued by the National Commission on
Excellence in Education) sparked neo-Sputnik alarm about illiterate
young Americans, reading promotion has resurfaced as a national
priority. Over the last decade (during which the pace of reading's
decline has accelerated, according to the NEA's figures), book
boosterism has generated yet more publicity—from efforts like
the "Read Across America" program to Oprah's Book Club.
You might be forgiven for asking whether the civic-minded crusade
to promote "active and engaged literacy," in the NEA
report's phrase, might be part of the problem.
That's not a new question,
either. Check in with your average middle- or high-school kid
this summer, and you'll find him avoiding his "recommended"
reading—and not because he hates books; he feels bossed, and bridles.
He surely hasn't read Virginia Woolf's "How Should One Read
a Book?" but she's on his side in balking at literary prodders
and pokers. In the essay, she warns that "to admit authorities,
however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let
them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon
what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the
breath of those sanctuaries."
What Woolf couldn't have
anticipated was a very furry authority—wearing a weird red-and-white-striped
cap instead of a gown—barging into the library: the Cat in the
I find much of this
article quite compelling. But that cat is just so darn zany, I can't
hate him. Though he used to give me nightmares. PUT THE FISH DOWN!
YOU'RE GOING TO KILL THE FISH! (discuss)
Walt Whitman, the musical
An opera profiled, poetry
caught in crossfire.
Whitman's free verse,
with its immensely long lines, demonstrated that poetry could
do well without metre and rhyme, and could rely solely on diction
and cadence. The diction alone identified it immediately as a
sort of poetry, and all its thoughts (in the passages Vaughan
Williams had chosen from Leaves of Grass) were elevated. So it
did not seem to overthrow the notion of what poetry was. Rather
it seemed to constitute another as yet unfamiliar category of
what poetry might be.
Yet another article wittily titled "Found in Translation"
Lee profiled. (It's like the artisan shops that are sprinkled
about my hometown like pock marks on a diseased orphan: a pottery
shop named "You're Fired!", a tailor called "Just
Sew", a bakery called "With the Grain"... Yeesh.)
I, Robot(ic writing unit)
Asimov profiled at Slate.
Isaac Asimov was
the steak-and-buffet restaurant of American authors: What he lacked
in quality, he made up for in volume. If you didn't like what
he was serving, you could wait a few minutes for him to bring
out something else. By the time he died in 1992, at the age of
72, Asimov had published more than 470 books, ranging from science-fiction
classics to annotated guides of great literature to limerick collections
to The Sensuous Dirty Old Man, a defense and celebration of lechery.
"His first 100 books took him 237 months, or almost 20 years,
until October 1969, to write," his New York Times obituary
observed. "His second 100, a milestone he reached in March
1979, took 113 months, or about 9 ½ years—a rate of more
than 10 books a year. His third 100 took only 69 months, until
December 1984, or less than 6 years." By the end, Asimov
achieved the Grand Slam of book writing, turning out at least
one volume for each of the 10 classifications in the Dewey Decimal
Newsflash: Hughes smelled, Plath liked smelling
Oh, Ted... Is
that Drakkar Noir?
"But oh, Sylvia
Plath liked the smell of Ted - any of his smells"
I just knew there
was a Joyce connection here somewhere... (You know, as I age I realize:
fart jokes will just never get old for me.) (discuss)
Find a happy place...
Norris profiled. (discuss)
Hey! You got your Milton in my Blake! You got your Blake
in my Milton! And my Wordsworth is covered in peanut butter! Mmmm!
Milton, Blake and Wordsworth, together
at last... again... for once... not on a syllabus... finally....
together... under one roof... um, Wordsworth's. (I am so not interested.)
Everyone wants a look at Vita Sackville-West's flower...
it was Virginia, then the tourists started coming too... (discuss)
File under: Way too cool
archeology. (From Clive)
is, like, nigh, dude"
More on Americans
not reading. And some
The situation in
Canada isn't as dire. In 1998, the last year Statistics Canada
collected such data, roughly two-thirds of Canadians had read
at least one extracurricular book (of any kind) in the previous
year -- versus 57 per cent of Americans, and 45 per cent of Europeans.
The Swedes, 72 per cent of whom read, are the most literary of
us all; the Portuguese, at 15 per cent, have been concentrating
on soccer. Even so, 35 per cent of Canadians don't read even one
book a year. The Canadian Publishers Council was alarmed enough
to start conducting its own study of national reading habits.
I think this is all
way out of proportion. Do beer mats count as reading? Some of them
are very clever! And, um, the TV guide is, like, filled with things
I have to read in order to know what's what in the world..
...the NEA blames
the Internet for literary reading's decline, and with some cause.
Reading rates were stable from 1982 all the way to 1998 -- the
same year Internet use vaulted to 42 per cent from 26 per cent
of the U.S. population. That is also when the precipitous decline
in literary reading begins, especially among younger adults.
Or, at least, that's where reading declines if you use the NEA
definition of "literature" -- novels, short stories,
plays and poetry read in book form outside work or school. But
what about non-fiction? What about magazines and newspapers? And
especially what about reading on the Internet? All are excluded
from the NEA's definition of "literary reading."
See, Cosmo counts as
reading! FoxNews.com counts as reading! Everquest counts as reading!
We have nothing to fear! As long as our eyes are passing over words
of some kind we are bound to continue to develop intellectually,
culturally, and spiritually. (For the those of you challenged in
the art of recognizing dripping sarcasm, reread the last paragraph
while sticking two fingers down your throat.) (discuss)
Remember Foetry? The site that
catalogues nepotism and sycophancy in American poetry and poetry
thriving on a healthy juice of zeal, outrage, and bile. (The
saddest line in this article? "There seem to be more people
willing to pay for a chance to have their own book published (i.e.,
contest reading fee) than there are people willing to buy a book
of poetry by someone else." There's the problem.) (discuss)
NYT comics roundup
If I shouted out my window right now, there's a chance Seth would
hear me. He lives two streets over in quiet little Guelph here in
he doing in the NYT?*
Seth loves silent
panels, often lingering on an empty building on a cold night,
a hat upon a chair, a desolate road, empty save for Simon's constant
trudging, and I think it would be hard for text or even film to
convey the same sense of shoe- and spirit-ruining legwork. ''Simon
and I,'' says Abe, ''our lives didn't have much of a plot. Perhaps
all lives are like that -- just a series of events with little
meaning.'' You won't sell a lot of fans that way, I suppose. But
Seth truly believes in his wares -- the little meanings of regular
lives. Though it may take some time before the second ''Clyde
Fans'' collection comes out, I am sold.
Kicking ass, is what.
(I'd like to point out that fellow Ninja Darbyshire
fingered Seth as one of the best new things in Canada last year.
A visionary, Pete is.) (discuss)
The evils of French...
immersion to blame for poor reading performance in teens? (From
Peck pounded, in review this time
scathing review of Peck, but this time more a review of Peck
as a person than of Hatchet Jobs as a piece of writing. I like this
I was going to suggest
some hard-won guidelines for responsible reviewing. For instance:
First, as in Hippocrates, do no harm. Second, never stoop to score
a point or bite an ankle. Third, always understand that in this
symbiosis, you are the parasite. Fourth, look with an open heart
and mind at every different kind of book with every change of
emotional weather because we are reading for our lives and that
could be love gone out the window or a horseman on the roof. Fifth,
use theory only as a periscope or a trampoline, never a panopticon,
a crib sheet or a license to kill. Sixth, let a hundred Harolds
Is no one thinking
of poor Dale's feelings in all this? (discuss)
All is not lost!!
San Jose, even though I despise you with large sections of my heart
reserved for nothing other than hated for desert climate hockey
teams, I have to commend you on moving to your own stand-alone
book section when others are disappearing around the continent.
Bravo! Now someone smack Mike Ricci in the head for me. (discuss)
I can just see it now: Beowulf 2... Grendel's Got a Blender!
No, Virginia, nothing
is sacred. (discuss)
Post says it doesn't want to turn its plagiarism scandal into
another "Jayson Blair-like spectacle."
But the Star points out the
Post contributed heavily to that spectacle.
Pretty funny considering how the
Post alone, according to a database search, mentioned the
Blair scandal 43 times, sometimes in the most sanctimonious of
terms. There is also nothing from the Post about Evenson's
suspension for plagiarism in the mid-'80s while he was at the
Ottawa Citizen. The only published reference to that appeared
in an Edmonton Journal book review -- of Blair's Burning
Down My Masters' House: My Life At The New York Times.
I do like Ruben
Behind the Comics
Passion, sex, drugs and tragedy! OK, maybe not. But this history
of Image Comics is interesting anyway.
The true story of Image Comics
would seem to offer the kind of dramatic arc beloved of classic
Hollywood movies: Young men united in a burst of heady idealism
revolutionize the comics industry and rise to the top of their
field before succumbing to hubris, corruption and conflicting
egos and becoming the very thing they had led a revolution against.
It's the kind of story an older,
wiser Rob Liefeld might tell the camera as he expires slowly from
a gunshot wound to the chest. Or picture Todd McFarlane lying
in his palatial bedroom, an autographed baseball dropping from
his lifeless fingers.
Artists of New York
And join the Artist
The Artist Pension Trust invites
up-and-coming artists to contribute 20 pieces of their work to
a tax-protected fund over a 20-year period on the theory that
some of the art will appreciate significantly. All the artists
will share the profits, even if their initial promise never translates
into increased value.
All my exes are
right -- I am a dumbass!
As this etymology
game proves. (From Language
There is probably
no more chance of halting this current binge of Neruda worship
than there is of banishing the cicadas, but, still, the truth
does need to be said: Pablo
Neruda was a bad writer and a bad man. His main public is
located not in the Spanish-speaking nations but in the Anglo-European
countries, and his reputation derives almost entirely from the
iconic place he once occupied in politics--which is to say, he's
"the greatest poet of the twentieth century" because
he was a Stalinist at exactly the right moment, and not because
of his poetry, which is doggerel.
Poetry and POTUS
as political tool.
If he's your candidate,
he's charming and smart. If he's the other guy, he's a pretentious
smart aleck. It would be fun to have two poetry-quoting candidates
as opponents - imagine the debates - but for some reason, that
Writing as treatment for Parkinson's
At least one
Parkinson's sufferer believes writing has pulled him back from
the brink. (discuss)
You gotta have some Balzac....
Don't know much about art, but I know what I don't like, and this
guy's work sounds like it just might be up there with a crappy
painting I bought from a former friend (a pity buy at a show years
ago) which now actually lives behind a door that never closes.
The imposing bronze
monument, which was made in St. Petersburg's Monumentsculptura
foundry, depicts Balzac on a throne, surrounded by 40 characters
from his novels against a background of famous French landmarks
and cities with a Balzac connection.
Still, I think we
could definitely do with more monumental work dedicated to our cultural
Take heart, America
mobs make great decisions! (Um, stoning or burning? BURNING!
Peaceful dispersement or wild rampage? RAMPAGE! RAMPAGE!) Oh, wait...
There are flaws with
group wisdom, Surowiecki says. The best collective ideas come
out of diverse contributions, but some groups might have individuals
so strong that others play follow-the-leader instead of thinking
Hmmm. I wonder how
that comes into play... (discuss)
Mine says "Get yer paws off me, just kidding"
Maud points us to Canadian
braille tshirts... Why hasn't this been thought of before? Now
it's on to the braille pants. (discuss)
Just the other day
I turned to Press Gal
and said, "Whatever happened to Sebastian Bach of Skid Row?"
Thankfully, the Globe and Mail has
The former lead singer of hair-metal
band Skid Row has re-invented himself as a Broadway star, most
recently touring the United States in the title role of Jesus
You'd think an article
on rock stars would at least get the spelling of Axl Rose right
A little while ago, Noah Richler took Ryan Bigge to task in
the Toronto Star for a review of Bigge's. Now Bigge counterattacks.
You've never been a details man,
Noah. You're good at dropping names, but less proficient at spelling
them correctly. I recommend you petition McClelland & Stewart
to hire an extra fact-checker for your upcoming book A Literary
Atlas Of Canada. Lest you think me nasty, consider this: if
I was incubating any malice toward you, I wouldn't make such a
helpful suggestion. Indeed, I take your attempt to besmirch my
good name with a milligram of sodium. This kind of literary catfight,
is, after all, a sign of progress in the hermetic world of Canadian
letters. Indeed, if I continue to work hard and write provocative
essays, perhaps I can look forward to a Trudeau denigrating me
someday. Then I'd know I've really made it.
gentlemen, your new Heritage Minister...
is seen a strong supporter of the arts", I see no mention
of "art"? Dear me. (From PFW)
American, why for you not reading?
Why are Americanos reading fewer books? Because "Almost
nothing in [their] culture encourages the private moment of reading."
So we're left with
a general media environment in which the readerly commit a kind
of cultural suicide in pursuit of the less readerly. In magazine
and newspaper offices across the country, well-educated editors
stuff their publications with pieces about trash movies, hip-hop
hotties, reality-TV spinoffs, and ingénue profiles -- then
go home and read a book. As print people drive their hordes toward
nonprint media, TV folks -- supposedly a dimmer breed -- cleverly
ignore the competition, rarely acknowledging what's in the local
papers and almost never devoting a minute to a nonpresidential
And on it goes....
White America: routinely surprised by Black America
Publishers smell money and descend like hungry sharks on the
Harlem Book Fair...
The mounting appeal
of the uptown festival - 330 exhibitors will take over 135th Street
between Fifth Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard on Saturday
- suggests to Rodriguez and other publishing industry insiders
and trend-trackers that black authors and black readers are steadily
influencing a marketplace that had once discounted black reading
preferences and buying power. Chicago-based Target Market News,
a marketing, media and research firm, reports that dollars spent
by blacks on books rose to $326 million in 2003 from $258 million
in 1996. (Its reports are based on U.S. Department of Commerce
Hmm. I didn't see them
pushing B&N to set up a store there 10 years ago, but now that
the money is there... But this can be good for the community (my
old hood, believe it or not), in many respects. (discuss)
Editors... Hmph... Hew needes thim?
Always have been a problem, haven't they...? Twisting our werdes,
all scall under those longe locks. Chaucer's
copyist revealed! (discuss)
Can I get some Starsky and Hutch music please?
Waka-chika, waka-chika! Quick, throw the
stash out the window, man! (discuss)
Sweet merciful crap
And lo, there on the hill, a rider on a
pale horse cometh. (discuss)
So finally someone says it....
Bad writing begins with
Martha Stewart. (discuss)
movies have short-circuited reality"
Comic guru and witch doctor Alan Moore has really got
a hate on for the media.
One of the reasons we singled
out media in V for Vendetta was because it is one of the
most useful tools of tyranny. We invite it into our own home every
night; I'm sure that some of us think of it as a friend. That
might be a horrifying notion but I'm sure there are people who
think of television as perhaps one of their most intimate friends.
And if the TV tells them that things in the world are a certain
way, even if the evidence of their senses asserts it is not true,
they'll probably believe the television set in the end. It's an
alarming thought but we brought it upon ourselves. I mean, I think
that television is one of the most diabolical -- in the very best
sense of the word -- inventions of the past century. It has probably
done more to degrade the mind and intelligence of its audience,
even if they happen to be drug addicts or alcoholics; I would
think that watching television has done more to limit their horizons
in the long run. And it has also distorted our culture.
Want to spice up
that game of strip poker?
Why not try these font
playing cards? Now drop those undies and show me your Garamond,
baby! (From Typophile) (discuss)
History of the Ampersand
I wish Adobe would make this
sort of topic a regular feature.
When creating a new typeface,
a designer can inject the most artistic flair into the ampersand
character. The term ampersand, as Geoffrey Glaister writes in
his Glossary of the Book, is a corruption of and (&) per
se and, which literally means "(the character) & by itself (is
the word) and." The symbol & is derived from the ligature of ET
or et, which is the Latin word for "and."
Save Coach House
You know, it often doesn't FEEL as
exciting as 30 years ago... (P.S. Has anyone ever seen Michael
open his eyes this wide in person?) (discuss)
Sure, it starts with robotic
librarians, but where does it end, I ask you? Where does it
end?? I think we all know the answer to that... (discuss)
Hemingway family can't agree
On anything but insanity and suicide, it seems. Surprise, surprise.
towners in Ketchum, Idaho* want to keep tourists from visiting
the house that caught his brains. I bet there's a dark secret in
Ketchum and the "people" don't want Papa's minions to
disturb their sacred blood sites... or something. (discuss)
Only in Tex-ass
Small town agog over porno
in the community centre can. (discuss)
For freaked out Newtonians: please don't worry, Maud
is experiencing technical difficulties and hopes to be back up by
"People are here to brush up on bruises, strangulations, decaying
bodies and false identifications"
No, it's not the Florida Everglades, it's a
forensic seminar aimed at writers. . Coooooool.
John Fullerton wants
to know about cut carotid arteries, for instance. How long until
death? How far does the blood spurt? Jamieson allows us to do
the calculation for ourselves: 100ml through the heart at each
beat, 65 beats a minute. With a completely severed artery you've
probably got about 30 seconds and the blood isn't going to spurt
much higher than your head. If the artery is just nicked, on the
other hand, you've obviously got longer but the blood will be
coming out under pressure and spraying much further.
I repeat: coooooool...
(Hell, I want to take this for my poetry!)(discuss)
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence
in heaven about the space of half an hour....
End of Books!!!
up, but that's mostly because publishers raised the price of books...
The bottom line is, people are reading and buying fewer books.
This is an industry that's being kept afloat by price increases."
(Please add thunder
and lightning effects and slap yourself in the face repeatedly while
yelling, "The Rapture! The Rapture!") (discuss)
When I first saw it on PFW,
I thought, holy flurking snurt! An
article about feminism in Macleans? WTF? That's like finding
an article on chaos theory in Sports Illustrated. Then, I read it.
NEIL BOYD KNOWS how
to stir a pot. In the past 16 years, he's denounced mandatory
minimum sentences for murderers, promoted decriminalizing marijuana,
and argued that biology, not culture, is primarily responsible
for male aggression. You might think this last position, which
he staked out in The Beast Within (2000), puts the Simon Fraser
University criminologist in league with another group of biological
reductionists, radical feminists. Think again. With his most recent
book, Big Sister (Greystone Books), Boyd, a self-described equality
feminist, takes on what he calls "extreme feminism."
Its doctrine that women are victims of an aggressive male sexuality,
he argues, has infiltrated North American laws regulating pornography,
sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. In the
process, it's spawned a "sexual McCarthyism" that undermines
feminism as a whole.
Bad feminists! Bad
bad! It's your own darn fault things aren't equal. Luckily the reviewer
takes a(n overly) diplomatic swipe at this load of crap. (discuss)
"It’s not acceptable to threaten somebody with violence.
Just skip ahead to the violence!"
A look at the
slap heard round the books sections.
By turning the literary
dispute into a physical one, Mr. Crouch was bowing to the power
of words. As antagonists, Mr. Crouch and Mr. Peck share a similarity
of outlook: In his review of Mr. Crouch’s novel, Mr. Peck declared
that "the rightness or the wrongness of his evaluation always
gives way to getting over, getting a rise, scoring points off
I know you are, but what
am I? Mr. Peck’s reviews, Mr. Crouch said, are "stepping
stones to bring attention to himself," and his primary critical
message is "that he’s so much better than whoever it is he’s
In a showdown between two competitive writers, taking a swing
means you’re the loser.
Stanley Crouch was
a two-bit loser before he hit Peck. All the slap did was devalue
his dollar. (discuss)
Biographers: please feel something
to would be biographers.
The history of biographies
is full of examples of books conceived in love, but completed
in disaffection; or books whose authors have developed a degree
of respect, even of liking, for subjects they'd planned at first
The 99 is about all they agree on...
The intense difficulties
of translation revealed. (From Incoming
How about 15,000
I recently finished Patience
& Fortitude, a pretty interesting book about libraries by
Nicholas A. Basbanes. It was full of all sorts of interesting trivia,
such as the fact that Umberto Eco has 30,000 books in his apartment.
When I pointed this out to Press
Gal, who is waging an all-out war to limit the number of books
in our apartment, she said, "You're no Umberto Eco." Hmph. Anyway,
I also found this
interesting bit of trivia about Ripley's Believe It or Not,
which led me to more library trivia.
Norbert Pearlroth, the Ripley's
Believe It or Not! researcher from 1923 to 1975, found all
the information for the newspaper feature using the huge collection
in the Library's Main Reading Room. A speaker of several languages
with a prodigious memory, Mr. Pearlroth came to the Library each
day, and relied on serendipity to find his amazing facts. It's
estimated that he reviewed 7,000 books each year (that's 364,000
in 52 years!)
So when's the movie?
Reptilian neolettrist graphics presents Eunoia,
"Chapter E." (discuss)
A Softer World
These clip-photo comics
are actually kind of funny, in a creepy sort of way. And the clips
are pretty. I'm looking forward to the book. (From Boing
Is there any group that isn't against Bush? Although Canadians
against Bush is my favourite. (discuss)
CanLit's not so
bad after all
Newsweek thinks there
may be something to this government support of the arts thing.
One of the original web magazines, Slate
(launched in 1996 - that's paleolithic in web reckoning), and one
of the only web magazines in the world to be read by more people
than Bookninja (ahem), is
on the block. If you're idly rich and a meddlesome liberal sort,
you would do well to purchase both Slate and Bookninja and, using
radiation or perhaps gamma rays, meld to the two into a raucous,
monstrous hybrid to defend against the rumoured Republican menace,
What's the hottest title in the book industry?
Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com both ranked it No. 1 on Friday
and many local stores were already reordering. Its publisher told
The Associated Press that stores had already ordered more than
80 percent of its 600,000-copy printing, selling a quarter of
them Thursday alone.
No, it's not the new
book of poems by George Murray, though you can be forgiven for making
such a mistake, it's the
9/11 report. (discuss)
"Whenever I can, I try to put poetry in a speech. If
it's appropriate, I think it lifts it up, it can touch the audience
in a way that prose can't"
Amen, brother. But maybe you oughtta throw in a limerick or two
to court the swing voters who might be leaning toward Bush. Kerry's
poetry-loving speech writer Terry
Edmonds profiled. (discuss)
Crouching Fat Man, Hidden Penis Issues
numerous indiscretions of bloated numbnuts Stanley Crouch laid bare
at his old stomping (slapping?) grounds.
This was not a moment
of hot-headed indiscretion. Crouch may use his perch at the Daily
News to inveigh against gangsta rap with all deliberate fury and
alarm ("Hip Hop's Thugs Hit New Low," "Hip Hop
Gets The Bruising It Deserves," or "Morally, Allen Iverson's
a Bad Guy"), but his habit of violent exchanges with writers
and editors puts him a notch above Snoop on the ne'er-do-well
scale. In most cases gangsta rap is just talk--Biggie and Tupac
are the exceptions. But while Crouch has yet to peel caps, the
gangsta ethos is realer for him than it is for your average gun-talker.
Much like the acts he derides, Crouch has a taste for swinging
that is nothing short of a variation on the "I ain't no punk"
theme seemingly encoded on the DNA of all black males. "I
have a kind of Mailer-esque reaction to the way some people view
writers," Crouch once told The New Yorker. "I want them
to know that just because I write doesn't mean I can't also fight."
Put another way, Crouch wants you know he keeps it gangsta.
Eye-melting goodness for the soul
The great thing about the headline over this
wry article examining the insane Xtian bloodbath that is the Left
Behind series, is that you just have to add an exclamation
point to the end to use it over a rebuttal piece in a Chrissie mag.
No, I don't think
the readers of Glorious Appearing will ram planes into
But America did imprison
thousands of Muslims here and abroad after 9/11, and ordinary
Americans displayed a lack of empathy for the Muslim prisoners
tortured at Abu Ghraib prison.
It's harder to feel empathy
for people if we regard them as infidels and expect Jesus to dissolve
their tongues and eyes any day now.
"We have it on the authority of RSS chief K.S. Sudershan that
to educate our children in English is to expose them to lesbianism
and free sex."
debate the good (and evil) of English. (discuss)
Her Life as a Fake
few words of warning to those writers who would adopt a past
for a good story (and you know who you are)...
But now the Jordanian-born
author Norma Khouri is battling claims that Forbidden Love, and
the life story she has recounted to book groups and journalists
on three continents, is a fake.
Far from being a Jordanian
who fled her home in the late 1990s after the "honour"
killing of her best friend, Khouri is accused of being an American
passport-holder who lived in Chicago from the age of three.
"This women has ruined
our cause," said Rana Husseini, a Jordanian journalist and
human rights activist who has documented the country's "honour"
killings for 10 years.
Lord Jeffrey Lecher
It appears someone
has been taking their spam email too seriously... (Last month I
got an email with the headline "Heighton Sensation!" and
naturally assumed it was a press release from Anansi
touting Steven's fantastic new collection, Address
Book. How wrong I was...) (discuss)
"Winner" of Hemingway lookalike contest!
nutbars attend contest in hopes of being Papa for a day. (Which
begs the question: they know they remind people of Hemingway and
they're PROUD of it?) In related
Fauxkner: The Sound and the Curly
Faux Faulkner parody prize goes to... Hear
some of it here. (First link from GoodReports)
This fall, vote
John Kerry comes under fire for his
use of a Langston Hughes poem.
"Let America be America again"
comes from a poem published in 1938 by the Harlem renaissance
poet Langston Hughes. But Hughes intended the line ironically.
A black man living in the pre-civil rights era would have had
to be insane to look back to a golden age of freedom and equality
in America, and Hughes was not insane. Hughes was, rather, an
enthusiastic cheerleader for the Soviet Union at the time he wrote
"Let America Be America Again," which explains the poem's agitprop
Well, a Stalinist dictatorship
still has to be better than Bush's America. (discuss)
Bookninja: a gang
And other oxymorons.
Are poets a waste?
(From Metafilter) (discuss)
A cool little site that tracks the popularity
of individual words and ranks them numerically. There are some
interesting found poems in here. (From Metafilter)
liberties: finally free for all
You know, like
voted against repealing a portion of the USA Patriot Act that
allows the government to monitor Americans' reading habits. What
clinched the vote was information provided by the Justice Department
that a suspected terrorist had used e-mail services at a public
As terrifying as this idea might be, what's even more terrifying
to former Watergate counsel Samuel Dash are the incursions already
made on Americans' rights. Indeed, the Patriot Act allows the
government to tap phones and search homes without probable cause.
Government agents may also sneak into homes of Americans and seize
evidence without telling the residents until the search is over.
And guess what, folks:
that's not all. Rambling idiot and quite-likely-psycho, Daniel Rakowitz,
from his book collection brought into court as evidence of his likelihood
to commit harm if released from prison.
Then the prosecutor
cited a list of the books in Rakowitz's library as yet more proof
that he was a dangerous maniac, crazy as a loon, a man "fascinated
with evil" who would surely be dismembering someone else
within half an hour of being released.
Undoubtedly, this one
IS a nut, but surely this sets an ugly precedent? (Yeah, New York
Press is a rag, but it's a scary article, nonetheless.) (From Maud)
More poetry in politics
poetry in politics ever be a bad thing? (The answer is so subjective....)
(P.S. Now taking bets on how far into this article the first reference
to Shelley's "unacknowledged legislators" bit appears...)
"It’s like Partisan Review, except not dead"
A good start! Where to now, gang? Golly! The world is our oyster!
Aw, shucks, I just want to hug you all! And maybe pass out a few
The first issue of
n+1 is engaged in demolition, and a buoyant literary
pugilism pervades throughout.‘“I think it’s the kind of magazine
that Stanley Crouch would want to slap in a restaurant,” said
fiction writer Sam Lipsyte.
Damn. Here's my money.
can I get the issue. (discuss)
Dick ever be a bad thing? (The answer is so subjective....)
The lovely Zach Wells gives us his new column about the
lack of a proper translation tradition here in Canada.
Canada’s ethnic map
contains more bumps and hollows than a two-dimensional chart of
mutually ambivalent solitudes can convey. Obviously, the production
of literary works in English, French and aboriginal idioms, and
of translations from each of these languages into the others,
is and will continue to be of central importance. But in order
for cultural policy to keep pace with cultural actuality, more
room needs to be made for distinctive voices from other lands.
As renowned poet and translator A. F. Moritz put it to me, “If
you don’t bring over the most central speech of a people, its
poetry, you’ve denied its essential humanness access to the pith
of the culture into which you are supposedly welcoming it. You’ve
denied the most important contribution it can make to the basic
ethos of its new home and the native place of its future children.
And you’ve blocked the greatest contribution it can make to the
ongoing health and intelligence and development of Canada and
of English and French.” Moritz notes that “this nation is a-crawl
with literarily talented and ambitious people who have native
access to literally hundreds of languages.” Why, then, is this
bonanza of talent not translating into more activity?
God, I love that boy.
He's critical gold. (You can blame the crappy title on me, his over-worked,
under-achieving editor.) (discuss)
fiction ever be a bad thing? (The answer is so subjective....)
Some call what they write "poetry"
This guy thinks it's gospel.
had a choice between doing dope and working, we'd do both"
House's hippie roots. Some things never change. Except the dope
part. And the work being about art. And the fact that my neck hurts
pretty much everyday and occasionally I find white hairs in my beard.
Oh, and my shirt is covered in grimy paw prints that could be banana
or cream cheese, I'm not sure because I don't remember breakfast.
And I don't have time to write or do anything but edit and post
things here. Yeah, sometimes my wrist feels like it will just explode
from the repetitive stress, but otherwise it's all art and pot.
Oh no! It's K-K-Ken come to k-k-kill me!
However, for the
stammerer who wishes to express himself without the risks inherent
in speech, there is an obvious alternative: writing. On the page,
even the most unruly words can be brought into line, so it may
be no coincidence that many of the finest writers have suffered
from a stammer: Lewis Carroll, Arnold Bennett, Somerset Maugham,
Aldous Huxley, Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Larkin, Henry James, Charles
Kingsley, Leigh Hunt, Margaret Drabble, and many more."
Sometimes the writer's stammer produces clear literary side-effects.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for instance, introduces
a mournful private joke with the appearance of the Dodo, because
the stammering author Charles Dodgson, who used "Lewis Carroll"
as his pen name, also enjoyed, or endured, "Dodo" as
his nickname ("Do-Do-Dodgson"). Other side-effects are
more elusive, such as Henry James's snaking sentences, full of
measured subclauses and self-qualifications, which may or may
not have emerged from the way that stammerers learn to avoid words
likely to snag their voices, nimbly sidestepping danger with an
alternative word, a new direction.
Note: not the same
as waffling in literature. (P.S. I can never quote from A
Fish Called Wanda without snorting at least once at the
thought of those ketchupy french fries up Michael Palin's nose...
hee hee... funny.... ) (From TEV)
Wordsworth cottage so high tech it will kill you with built-in
laser beams if you try to touch his shit
I on the other hand have a custom built cardboard box to house my
of poetry... (discuss)
"Would Moby Dick be better if Melville had used a word
Well, Jonathans? Would
it? (From Maud) (discuss)
And what would Victorians have done with the Internet?
I suppose the humour slot isn't the place to get into how our society
is just the tail end of Victorianism,
is it? (Also from Maud)
Snuff films for
I never realized pop-up
books were so creepy. (From Metafilter)
I can't imagine
Russell Smith on a camping trip
But I too am puzzled by the
botany obsessions of CanLit.
I am often floored, in reading
fiction, by the names of plants. I find this in Canadian fiction
in particular, since so much Canadian fiction has to do with gardening.
But even in the parts that aren't about gardening. You have a
character who is a sea captain or a railway engineer or a prostitute,
and he or she looks along the railway tracks behind the old house
(you know, the one that he/she is going to find his/her mother's
old letters in), and this person's gaze casually registers milkweed,
burdock and something-wort (dusty, in poignant decline, this ragged,
humble, valiant greenery). Or he/she notes the receding vistas
of spruce and cedar, occasionally punctuated by elm and beech.
How many cha-chings
in a kaboom?
Norton stands to make
a pretty penny* from sales of the 9/11 Commission report.
Under the conditions
of its contract with the commission, Norton had four days to print
and bind the book and deliver it to retailers. The contract called
for the book to be available in stores at the same time on Thursday
morning that it was released to members of Congress and the news
Normally it would take a publisher 10 months to go from the receipt
of a manuscript to the date of publication, Mr. McFeely said,
with four to six weeks of that for shipping alone. That, of course,
includes time spent editing the book.
Or, in the case of
many books, not editing. (discuss)
Sword wielding maniac poet
He got community service. Preferably not gardening or anything
else that requires he use blade-like tools... (discuss)
Tired of knowing things?
those pesky books and be done with intellectual engagement!
Who needs all that thar learnin' when you can get cold hard cashola
for your libarry. (discuss)
ain't about gum.*
On a recent sultry
Thursday evening in Manhattan, when the summer weekend had already
started sucking out the city's energy, Mr. Dickey drew a mostly
female crowd at Barnes & Noble that included mothers with
babies, older couples and Bergdorf blondes.
God, I would just so
love it if that paragraph finished, "And the tiger traps worked
like a charm." (discuss)
Minneapolis' comic book hero
Is it Parka Man? What about Long John Silver Surfer? Could it be
The Polite Lawyer? (For
our Minnesotan reader...) (discuss)
Akhmatova opera sounds interesting, less screechy than usual
Is it just because a poet is involved?
The 56-year- old
Akhmatova's meeting with the man (20 years her junior) she called
a "guest from the future" epitomises the intellectual
contact between Russia and its former allies that the cold war
Hell, I'd watch Fear Factor if they had a poet on... ("Ok,
the challenge is: you must read this entire collection of poems
about Elvis in one sitting..." "Noooooo!") (discuss)
Rare books burgled from Kiwi library
Ok, there've been a few articles lately about rare
book thieves and book vandals and I have a confession that combines
the two... Once, when I was about 13, I became a "some prick"
when I took the map out of the back of a my library's hardcover
LOTR and posted it on my bedroom wall. It was just so cool and I
needed an easy reference tool... Plus, I wanted to stare at Edoras
where I knew the lovely Eowyn was likely waiting for me... (discuss)
One more reason you should be subscribing to Maisonneuve
Paris Hilton Wrote Poetry... (discuss)