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Hearsay Archive:

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

Some of the links are likely to rot over time. Sorry about that, but our fridge isn't working.


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July 2005:



When reviewing goes bad
After Mailer's misog-o-racist attack on the NYT's resident executioner Kakutani in Rolling Stone, Richard Morrison suggests that performing arts reviewers can say what they want because they're generally at a remove from the art they review. Hear hear. He also collects for the Sunday Times a group of fantastic remembrances of reviews gone bad. My favourite is AN Wilson's:

I remember reviewing a book by Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down. He then went on to write a book about humans called The Girl in a Swing. I thought it was possibly the worst thing I had ever read. I met him seven years later and he proceeded to quote the whole review. He then asked me: “Would you consider that to be a fair review?” He then went on and on about it and eventually sent me around 20 letters on the subject. He even invited me to dinner where he quoted my review again. Then he said that we should put the matter behind us, which I thought was odd since it was Adams who had brought the matter up in the first place. The thing to remember is that it is very rare to have a critic say exactly what they think these days. Most critics will not tell you that the vast majority of books published are crap.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

84kms of Penguins...
That's a whole lot of waddling. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Da Vinci Code: The Milkening

The Da Vinci Code movie has started filming in Paris. Apparently it stars the Olsen twins as albino rastafarian assassins and Liza Minnelli as the swingingest Mary of Magdalene of this century. Cameos will include Martin Short, the chubby guy from 21 Jump Street, and the corpse of Billy Barty. As expected, the movie will only be released in hardcover. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Selling books with a smile
A heartwarming column at Moby by Dan Bloom, a US expat living in Taiwan who handsells his Chinese-language books in the night markets there. (discuss)

Potter for the blind
The new Potter book will be released in large print and Braille versions simultaneously with the umpteen regular editions (including the editions for adults, quasi-adults, and adults-who-want-to-be-children). I don't know the mechanics of this, but maybe it would be a good idea to publish a large print/Braille version of a book (ie, print a large text edition and then punch Braille into it afterward). Blind people wouldn't know the print is even there and the partially sighted are unlikely to notice Braille at arm's length. Then one book services two special needs. Meh? Meh. I throw my ridiculous mind into the world and hope it sticks to something. Splat. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

More press for BookThing, the Baltimore-based charity that gives books free to anyone who wants them. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Fear of a blog planet!

Doonesbury takes the stuffing out of blogs. (Thanks, David) (discuss)
(Posted by George)



Threat advisory green
I've never actually read one of these Harry Potter books. Are they worth the fuss?

The security plans are in place, the delivery efforts are under way, the SWAT teams are locked and loaded, and lawyers are standing by in case any copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" go astray before 12:01 a.m. on July 16, the official time of release for the latest installment in the J. K. Rowling series.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Art of Camouflage
Wait, wasn't Hitler a painter too? I see a pattern here....

"I well remember at the beginning of the war," Gertrude Stein wrote in 1938, "being with Picasso on the Boulevard Raspail when the first camouflaged truck passed. It was at night, we had heard of camouflage but we had not seen it and Picasso, amazed, looked at it and then cried out, yes it is we who made it, that is Cubism." Stein went on to suggest that the entire First World War had been an exercise in Cubism.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

So writers are to blame?
Movie stars now come with personal screenwriters -- who can make up to $250,000 a week. Yeah, well, I still have my integrity. Only because no one will buy it.

When Will Ferrell was cast in Bewitched, he brought along Adam McKay, who has been writing funny bits with the actor since their Saturday Night Live days. Some of Adam Sandler's dialogue in The Longest Yard was rewritten by his longtime go-to scribe, Tim Herlihy. And filmmaker Sydney Pollack returned to Three Days of the Condor screenwriter David Rayfiel to polish the script for The Interpreter.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The iPod is the future of publishing
Some time ago I wrote an article saying iPods could dramatically affect the book world. Turns out they already have.

The future has clearly arrived: Apple's immensely popular iPod --the software company shipped 5.3 million of the variously priced and sized devices in its second fiscal quarter of 2005 alone -- is making consumers more comfortable with the idea of downloading audiobooks and listening on-the-go. So could DABs -- which are more accessible, hip and cost-effective than traditional formats like cassettes and CDs -- be the next big thing?

(From Arts Journal) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Or maybe blogs are the future....
Bring on the swag.

Exactly what sells books remains mysterious, but one tried-and-tested method is the word-of-mouth recommendation. The world's oldest marketing tool, it's slippery as the truth and impossible to fake. Or so we all thought. Lately, however, American publishers have wised up to the arrival of the so-called 'bloggerati', a network of cyber bookworms whose blogs are signed by the likes of Moorish Girl, Book Dwarf and Four-Eyed Bitch.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


William Gibson on remix culture
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love appropriation.

We live at a peculiar juncture, one in which the record (an object) and the recombinant (a process) still, however briefly, coexist. But there seems little doubt as to the direction things are going. The recombinant is manifest in forms as diverse as Alan Moore's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, machinima generated with game engines (Quake, Doom, Halo), the whole metastasized library of Dean Scream remixes, genre-warping fan fiction from the universes of Star Trek or Buffy or (more satisfying by far) both at once, the JarJar-less Phantom Edit (sound of an audience voting with its fingers), brand-hybrid athletic shoes, gleefully transgressive logo jumping, and products like Kubrick figures, those Japanese collectibles that slyly masquerade as soulless corporate units yet are rescued from anonymity by the application of a thoughtfully aggressive "custom" paint job.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Harry Potter and the Owlery
Amazon.ca promotes the new Potter with cute, deadly predators, which in turn eye the small children.

With some initial trepidation, Sarah Jane Gunter put out her gloved left hand and allowed the inscrutable-looking snowy white owl to perch there, its green eyes staring boldly into the cameras. Gunter, manager for the Amazon.ca online marketplace, was posing for photographers Tuesday to help promote the imminent release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling's sixth adventure in the runaway-hit series of juvenile books.

In the distance, a large murder of crows takes wing.... (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Murderer gets out, sales go up
Kid killer KH gets out of prison and sales of books about her go up. A lovely payday that must make you feel good to be in publishing. Remember, you can't spell "porn" without the letters from "Pron"... (Sorry, hot button issue up here.) (discuss)
(Posted by George)

When you're a Jet, you're a Jet for life!
Random and Smith's dance fight it out in the streets of London. Jazz hands are flying everywhere! Yeah! (discuss)
(Posted by George)

London amused, not amused
Foetry makes it to Britain where they are both sympathetic and practical about the whole shenanigans. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Rafting to fame and fortune
Cockamamie scheme to conduct reading tour by rafting down the Mississip fails to draw attention. Except, you know, from the New York Times. Next, author will conduct reading while skydiving without a parachute. Jaded audience members will still look at their watches and wonder when this fucking thing is going to end. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Point of sale blogging
Stores are starting to check out blogs as sales vehicles. I am starting to check out stores as places in which to pontificate. Everybody is happy. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Is it even funny anymore?

It just makes me sad now. More Wubblewoo in unlikely situations. (discuss)
(Posted by George)


Neil Gaiman at the 2005 Nebula Awards
A comic-book version of Gaiman's speech. Very nice. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Burn, Harry, burn
Christians get together for their favourite pastime: burning books. Why?

"It's important for children to know that Harry Potter is witchcraft. It really afflicts their minds."


I prefer the Guardian's approach: the paper is holding a "competition to write an account of the death of the great wizard Albus Dumbledore in the style of another author." And you probably thought JK Rowling and HP Lovecraft would never meet. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

When someone blows your cover
What happens when two books use the same stock image? Well, if they come to occupy the same space at the same time... ka-blammo! Of course, there's something even worse than finding your image on another book. (And speaking of judging books by their covers...) (discuss)
(Posted by George)

When poetry leaves the page and actually does something interesting. I don't know about 3D, but it's better than some numbnuts standing on a corner asking you if you want to hear his/her poem. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Julian Barnes on ACD
Arthur and George? Okay, sounds good. But in our house we prefer the masterworks of one Laurie R King. (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Boldtype, yo
Boldtype's "Spirituality" issue was guest edited by The RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. Hot. (Thanks to Toby for giving me a preview.) (discuss)
(Posted by George)

Longevity the Eco way
Philip Marchand interviews Umberto Eco.

"Take the case of a person who's totally illiterate," Eco says. "When he or she dies, his or her life has spanned 60 or 70 years, let's say. But you or me, when we die we've had a life 2,000 years long. Our life contains — I don't know, the assassination of Caesar and the discovery of America. People who have had cultural training have a longer life than the person who has only personal biography."

(discuss) (Posted by George)

The Jack Kirby museum
So long Jack Kirby doesn't turn up in the Jack Kirby museum, I am happy about this. Can't we have one meeting that doesn't end with us digging up a body? (discuss)
(Posted by George)

So sue me, I'm a fucking dweeb...
Um, if anyone out there is rich and wants to make my life, please please please buy me this?

Please? (discuss) (Posted by George)


Weekend Edition:

London transformed
Ian McEwan on the bombings in London -- and what may happen in the aftermath.

The machinery of state, a great Leviathan, certain of its authority, moved with balletic coordination. Those rehearsals for a multiple terrorist attack underground were paying off. In fact, now the disaster was upon us, it had an air of weary inevitability, and it looked familiar, as though it had happened long ago. In the drizzle and dim light, the police lines, the emergency vehicles, the silent passers by appeared as though in an old newsreel film in black and white. The news of the successful Olympic bid was more surprising than this. How could we have forgotten that this was always going to happen?

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Tracking down tofu
The new issue of the OED newsletter is up, and the word sleuths are on the hunt. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Is fan fiction the next literary trend?
Neal Pollack thinks so. Hey, it's better than Crazy Paranoid Christian Lit.

Sure, a lot of this stuff is just bad bits cobbled together by misfiring pop-culture memory neurons. But its popularity also represents the broad roots of a new literary trend. Witness Wicked, Gregory Maguire's magnificent retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Similarly, authors Francesca Lia Block and Donna Jo Napoli have turned tweaked takes on classic tales into hit books. The kids coming up with today's fan fiction were born using the Web; for them, mixing and matching media is second nature. They'll go on, if they choose to tell great stories. Even if they're all based on Xena: Warrior Princess.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Dream King and the Gorillaz
Neil Gaiman interviews the animated pop band Gorillaz and the conversation inevitably turns to zombies. You can never go wrong with zombies. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Promethea my metaphore
Salon considers Alan Moore's Promethea series, which is sort of Wonder Woman meets Kabbalistic philosophy. But the article also pays attention to Moore's collaborators, which doesn't happen enough.

But Moore doesn't draw the comics he writes; his artistic collaborators on "Promethea" were J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray. They developed a lavish, eccentric visual style for the series, in which almost every two-page spread is unified by decorative design elements and symmetries. Williams is something of a chameleon -- his covers to the individual "Promethea" comics alluded to Alphonse Mucha, Peter Max, Winsor McCay and whoever else seemed appropriate.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



Imagine you write a book about terrorists attacking London
Now imagine it comes out the same day terrorists attack London.

The book's author, Chris Cleave, 32, a first-time novelist, said the timing was "macabre and a horrible coincidence".

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Ready to post Harry Potter details on your blog?
Better not. Even if you did buy the book legally.

The Canadian publisher of the Harry Potter series has filed a court injunction barring anyone from leaking the plot of the latest book after a store in British Columbia accidentally sold 15 copies before the official release date.

Raincoast Books of Vancouver discovered last Friday the Great Canadian Superstore in Coquitlam, B.C., had sold copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. So on Saturday, it sought the injunction from the province's Supreme Court.

Anyone who has directly or indirectly received a copy or any other form of disclosure of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is forbidden from revealing any information before 12:01 a.m. on July 16.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

So what exactly are the odds of becoming a successful writer?
That bad, eh? (From Arts Journal) (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Apostles of mercy
Oh, how those Martians in War of the Worlds have changed.

Perhaps that idea of terrorists with a cause and defenders with doubts influenced the discomfort felt in the current film as well. At any rate, the novel was more rigorous. It saw the similarities between victim and attacker but also what was at stake and what effect the attacks ultimately had. Through them, Wells writes, humanity was robbed "of that serene confidence in the future which is the most fruitful source of decadence."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Search Inside the Book increases sales
Amazon claims books in the program saw a nine-percent jump in sales in the days after the program began. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Foetry prompts code of ethics for literary contests
Established writers everywhere shudder.

Like it or not, Foetry got people talking about some important issues. In response to the increasingly common discussions among the more than four hundred-fifty members of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), executive director Jeffrey Lependorf decided to schedule a series of formal symposia with writers, editors, and publishers in order to establish a set of guidelines for contests, including a code of ethics, which he hopes to publish on the CLMP Web site this fall.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

I, psycho
Woman sues Stephen King, accuses him of basing crazy nurse in Misery on her. Because that's something you'd really want people to know about. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Cruel summer

Okay, kids. It's fucking hot. I'm taking this week off. If I happen to wake before seven on any given day, I may pop in and post something, but otherwise, colour me rested. You're in the hands of my fellow shadowy warlords.

I usually take some time off in August, but we have several major pieces for the magazine coming up then, including: a blogger all-star (Maud Newton, Michael Schaub, and myself) review/reappraisal of Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, a discussion of the "new" poetics of form by Ian LeTourneau and John Lofranco, an inverse omnibus review of the Romentics line of gay romance novels by Dani Couture and Matthew Fox, and an in depth comparison of the writing life in the "scene" versus roughing it in the bush by Brenda Schmidt. Until then, I plan to be irregular. Bran flakes or no. (discuss)
(Posted by George)


Greenpeace wants you to buy Harry Potter
The Canadian edition that is.

Greenpeace and the U.S. National Wildlife Federation are urging U.S. fans planning to buy the new Harry Potter book later this week to buy Canadian. In a campaign called Save Muggle Forests (referring to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's creative term for non-magical humans), the two environmental groups are protesting the fact that Scholastic -- the U.S. publisher of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- has not used 100 per cent recycled paper. Canadian publisher Raincoast has.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Too tired to read to your kids tonight?
Just let the computer do it.

For all those parents whose voices have grown hoarse sounding out the rhymes in their child's favorite picture book "just one more time," some reinforcements have arrived. One More Story is a new online library where children can choose a book -- complete with narration, highlighted text, and the book's original illustrations -- and listen as they read along on the computer.

(From Arts Journal) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

So much for the book tour
Chris Cleave, the author of Incendiary -- the book about a terror attack on London that came out the day terrorists attacked London -- wants readers to tell him whether or not he should keep promoting his book.

Yesterday, Cleave set up a website (http://www.chriscleave.com) asking readers about the novel, which is basically a letter to Osama bin Laden by a London woman who loses her husband and child to a fictitious terrorist attack at an Arsenal soccer game. "Is it disrespectful to the families of the victims for me to keep endorsing it? Or would it be a greater disrespect if I didn't?"

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Is Google Print the new Big Brother? Christopher Allen Waldrop has some thoughts on the subject over at Moby Lives.

What Google does on its own behalf doesn't necessarily serve libraries. If the participating libraries don't use Google to search their new digital archive they'll have to go to the time and expense of creating a new interface since most library catalogs aren't designed for full text searching. If they use a Google interface then patrons could have their reading habits put under surveillance.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



Chocolypse Now
I think we've linked to this comic mash of Willy Wonka and Apocalypse Now before, but hey, the new Willy Wonka movie is about to come out (From Boing Boing). Although Steve Almond says there was no need for a remake (Salon link):

A lot of people have been eagerly awaiting "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the new version of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I am not one of them.

This is no knock on the director, Tim Burton. I enjoyed "Beetlejuice" and "Edward Scissorhands" and, well, I haven't seen any of his other films, but I'm sure they're fine too, in a goth-fairy tale sort of way. It's just that Burton is way out of his league with "Willy Wonka," because the original version, released in 1971, is one of the most important films in the history of cinema.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Kill Harry Potter
Not everyone is excited about H-Day. Then again, some people think the Harry Potter books should win the highest literary prizes. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Incendiary review
The Literary Saloon weighs in on the Incendiary issue (the book about terrorists attacking London that got published last week) and decides it's not worth all the fuss because it's a crappy book.

We feel sort of bad for the guy: a tragic turn of events gets him undreamed-for publicity -- of the sort no one wants but from which his book can't help but benefit. We figure that, were it not for this turn of events (and despite the original ad campaign), the book would have attracted some attention but sunk out of sight pretty fast: it's a bad book (reviews have been middling, with Lawrence Norfolk in -- no surprise -- the Telegraph -- the most notable exception). Now readers across the globe have heard about it (lots of weblog mentions, too) and many will be tempted to have a look at it. (People are definitely curious: it's been among our most-accessed reviews for the past couple of days.)

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)



Old evil necromancer attacks good boy wizard
In between glugging wine and eating little bits of his master, the Pope took time out to worry about the "subtle seductions" of Harry Potter. The Vatican was too busy dismissing this world-is-round claim to comment. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Brit Lit Blogs
Six British blogs have combined into one happy collective (From Literary Saloon). What else would expect from a country that voted Karl Marx as its favourite philosopher? (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Children's lit -- that's where the money is!
Or not.

One hard-up group of literary toilers said "Huh?" when the bookshop chain Waterstone's waxed lyrical this week about how the Harry Potter phenomenon had helped to make their fortunes. The group was JK Rowling's fellow children's authors, a third of whom earn less than the national minimum wage of 8,827 pounds a year. And yesterday they published a survey of their own, claiming that some work for about 2p an hour.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Billy the Kid in literature
Today in Literature has an interesting roundup of Billy's appearances in fiction. Who knew the Kid was such a romantic? (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)


PSA number two...
I'm getting good karma today. Thanks to CNIB librarian Matt, who writes,

I saw your post about NLS and your parenthetical reference to the need for a Canadian equivalent. Well, I'm only too happy to oblige:

"The CNIB Library for the Blind is a not-for-profit, national organization offering library and information services at no cost to 100,000 Canadians who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind. A leader among libraries for the blind, the CNIB Library is one of the largest producers of materials in accessible formats in the world. Founded in 1906 by Canada’s first blind university graduate, the Library merged with the newly founded CNIB in 1918."

You can visit them here. And we should, my good Canucks, spread the word about this facility as well. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Public Service Announcement
I know, it's pathetic. I'm on vacation and I can't stay away. But, between all the hot penny stock tips, poker buddies I didn't know I had, and hot women waiting to perform unspeakable acts of carnal pleasure on me, I found something interesting in the ninja inbox.

Talking Books helps people of all ages whose low vision, blindness or physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult and has helped participants in the program read seven times more than the average reader, or approximately 35 books a year!

The Talking Books program can be equated to a program similar to the online video renting service, Netflix, except at no cost to the patron. Through NLS’ national network of cooperating libraries, books and magazines on cassettes and in braille, as well as audio equipment, are mailed straight to people’s door, free of charge. Patrons can then keep their orders for as long as necessary and can order as many as they wish. This service offers a much needed way for millions of Americans stay connected, and allows them to continue to read, learn and enhance the quality of their lives.

With a blind father-in-law, I know this service would be useful to my family (were it Canadian). So spread the word. Call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) if you're interested, or visit them here (doesn't seem to open in my Firefox, but IE is okay). (Thanks, Stephanie) (discuss) (Posted by George)


Casual, Oksana Robski's runaway hit about decadent Russian nouveau-riches has everything - contract killing, entrepreneurialism and fashionista poodles.
Quick. We need an English translator here; foreign deal! Publicity! Publicity! Hurry, people! (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Oprah or Osama?
Australian officials are concerned about national bookstores selling Osama bin Laden endorsed books.

Books endorsed by Osama bin Laden and discussing the effectiveness of suicide bombings are on sale in Australian bookstores - and authorities say they are powerless to act.

How the hell is bin Laden managing to endorse books? And imagine having a terrorist endorsed gold sticker on your book, wha? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Hot new book is 130 years old
A recently discovered epic novel by Alexandre Dumas is getting the French all horny for more. Luckily the "unassuming, retired lecturer" who found the novel on an old microfilm is writing a sequel. What a noble deed, you might say -- cashing in on the success of the dead. Let's call it cadaverlit, only slightly removed from ghost-writing. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Harry Potter coverage, hour 72

Get your redhots here! It's like an OJ trial or a runaway bride. Coverage in the NYT, Globe, CBC, CNN, etc. Reviews are generally good (who says Michiko is heartless?). So much so that we are hopping on the bandwagon this week with our own coverage. Look to the left for a new article by bookseller Paul Vermeersch. As a side note, the newly redesign (and damn schnazzy) GoodReports is back with some commentary (July 13th) on the BC courts ordering people to not read the new Harry before this weekend. (Kudos to whomever (agent or publicist) got JK to a different stylist. She looks human!) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Your bodies go under the knife
Just looking out the window these days tells me that perhaps it's not the best year to update a feminist classic. Our Bodies, Ourselves goes under the knife and comes out slender and pink. Additions include trendier graphics, prettier people, opinions on the Brazilian bikini wax, and, unbelievably (unless you've been following America this last decade), a new pro-marriage emphasis. I can feel my inner lesbian lacing up her parade boots. (discuss) (Posted by George)

The history of the death of the gay bookstore
What's killing gay bookstores? Big box stores. Hey, aren't they killing every bookstore? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Streetlit on sale in Harlem
As one might expect, the article is a tad condescending: from the headline, to the concentration on the bookseller's wardrobe, to the constant mentions of graphic content, to nasty jab in the last line. Makes me wonder about the editor who let it all through, much less the writer. (Thanks, Shemmy) (discuss) (Posted by George)

A novel without words
Christian Bok slams his hand on the table and curses into the night. A flock of birds lifts from the rooftops of Calgary and flies toward the moon. Exeunt. (From Moby) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Whining about writing
Leah McLaren is sick of talking about her book. Writing about it, not so much. She feels pressured to write a book because she's pretty. Or something like that. I can never finish the column anymore. (discuss) (Posted by George)



Everybody remain calm! Poetry is doing okay!
The Forward Prize judges "read" 2,111 books and have said the newer poets are doing just fine. Now it is time for an extended trip to the used bookstore. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Chicken Pablum for the Magazine Rack

Are you a Chicken Soup for the Soul fan? Then what the fuck are you doing here? Run, don't walk! It's right next to "Oprah" on the stands. (From PFW) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Booker winner a dissident?
The controversy over Ismail Kadare continues in a compelling piece at MobyLives.

No one stumbles to the head of the pile inadvertently. Kadare had to successfully lobby for himself among the powerful Soviet hyenas that called the shots with a fist of fury. Not a job for the fainthearted or the free–spirited. How many "dissident" writers, beside himself, did he protect and propel into the public eye? If he was anything like other heads of Unions of Writers in other communist countries, he did very well for himself, held active party membership, participated enthusiastically in expelling true political critics from the Union damning them to publishing oblivion, and knew all the right people up top intimately.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

Cuckoo! I AM XENU! I AM XENU!! Cuckoo!
A look at the whackjob leader of the Scientology cult. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Great first loins
Er, lines. Sorry. (From Moby) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Sappho of Lesbos
A new poem by Sappho; George may have posted this already (I'm a little late on the uptake) but he can't be expected to really get it, lord love a duck. So here is the article with the poem; way cool. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Annick goes pubescent
Here are some strong books for young adults coming out of Annick Press. It's an edgy world, and there's nothing the matter with your kid knowing that. There are some great fiction titles with intense historical/political messages worth checking out, too. My son enjoyed Ellis's Parvana's Journey trilogy (and so did I). (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Does Putin poop and scoop?
Not sure if this book'll tell you. What the heck is it with books told from the POV of dogs? Virginia Woolf did it. Paul Auster did it. ENOUGH ALREADY. Okay, now let's talk about my dog, my new cutey, wootey, mooty, sweetie babykins. Now a book from his POV, that'd be interesting...(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Is Google breaking the law?
Not everyone likes Google Print.

Attacks on Google's Print for Libraries service keep on coming from the nonprofit publishing sector. Now the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers, which represents non-profit publishers such as university presses in more than 30 countries, is taking aim at the legality of Google's service. By publishing complete digital copies of various works without consulting with the publishers, Google is clearly violating copyright law, the ALPSP alleges in a July statement.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The publishing industry needs more Harry Potters
Or does it? Some bookstores wonder if it's all worth the trouble.

Independent bookstores and their suppliers have had to feature major discounts in order to compete – not just against each other or major book chains but also with non-traditional retailers like supermarkets and drug stores offering the latest Potter alongside produce or bath products.

"That's kind of hard when you support the publisher 12 months a year and here comes your gravy train and [it's] being diluted," Peter Waldock, president of independent bookstore supplier North 49 Books, told CBC News.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Odd books found in a second-hand bookstore
Pretty much what the headline says. (From Metafilter) (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

Do reviews count?
The Guardian takes another shot at the age-old question of whether or not writers should read reviews.

Success does not necessarily guarantee indifference, just alternative survival tactics. Last week, on another part of the brow, Julian Barnes, whose remarkable new novel, Arthur & George, has been getting a very good press, told the Guardian that 'for self-protection' he no longer reads reviews.

This line has some distinguished antecedents. In 1821, Lord Byron instructed his publisher John Murray: 'Send me no more reviews of any kind - I will read no more of evil or good in that line; Walter Scott has not read a review of himself for 13 years.'

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

t last, publishers embrace the Web
To create fake websites.

The top results in a Google search for "Jayne Dennis" are a Web page with a photo of the B-list actress posing on a red carpet, and a fan site full of snapshots and gossip about Ms. Dennis's relationship with actor Keanu Reeves.

The twist: Jayne Dennis doesn't exist -- not in the real world, at least. She is a figment of writer Bret Easton Ellis's imagination and a character in his upcoming novel, "Lunar Park." The woman pictured on JayneDennis.com is actually a model, and readers who click around on the site can eventually find a link to the publisher's official site for the book.

(From Moorish Girl) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Bert Archer blogs
Bert Archer, author of The End of Gay and all-around critic, has a blog. (discuss)
(Posted by Peter)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie
SciFiWeekly reports it will star Owen Wilson. Full text below:

Wilson Is The New Mitty
Paramount has tapped Owen Wilson to star in its long-in-development The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, to be produced by the father-son team of Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and John Goldwyn, Variety reported.

Mark Waters (Mean Girls) will direct, from a script by Richard LaGravenese.

Mitty originated as a short story by James Thurber and was turned into a 1947 comedy starring Danny Kaye, produced by Samuel Goldwyn Sr. While the new film retains the concept of a man prone to vivid daydreams, the storyline has changed considerably. In this version, he falls for the daughter of a bank robber. In the '47 film, he was caught up with some crown jewels hidden since World War II, the trade paper reported.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. has been trying for more than a decade to mount a new version. He had developed the project at New Line, then moved it to Paramount, when John Goldwyn was president of the studio, with Jim Carrey attached to star and Steven Spielberg directing.

At various points, other directors attached included Ron Howard and Chuck Russell. Drafts have been developed by writers such as Russell, Peter Tolan and the team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the trade paper reported.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


No country for successful authors
The backlash against Cormac McCarthy is on. Release the hounds! (Hounds in this case being wild pigs that feed on flesh. Dead or living.)

how is it possible to be a nihilist and a pessimist at once? Nothingness can't be getting worse.

But that's the whole point of McCarthy. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

See George invade. Invade, George, invade.
Apparently books put Bush to sleep. Given the number of novelists in his cabal, he must be a narcoleptic. Which would explain a lot.

Bush presides over an administration chock full of novelists, particularly among the neo-conservative faction surrounding vice-president Dick Cheney. Lynne Cheney, the vice-president's wife, has written three novels, as well as several children's books. Before becoming the vice-president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby made his literary debut with a historical romance set in early twentieth-century Japan. And, Richard Perle, who has been a formidable advocate for an aggressive foreign policy as the erstwhile chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board (DPB), is the author of a Cold War thriller. At the DPB, Perle shares the table with Newt Gingrich, who also has a thriller to his credit, an alternative history novel set during World War II. When the Bush administration sought the Pope's blessing for the Iraq war, they sent over a special diplomatic delegation to the Vatican headed by Michael Novak, a prolific Catholic political philosopher and author of two autobiographical novels about his religious experiences.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The procrastination place
A writer discovers Starbucks and embarks on an epic, Super Size Me-like journey. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Pastor by day; superhero by night
Let Batman into your heart. Kentucky pastor, Michael Brewer's book, Who Needs a Superhero? Finding Virtue, Vice and What's Holy in the Comics is inspiring conversion.

Joshua Combs, children's minister at Faith Baptist Church in Waterford, Mich., said he also was inspired by Brewer's work. After he read the book, Combs said, the church spent six months teaching lessons themed on Batman. The children's room was painted with murals of Gotham City, and Combs was fitted with a $1,000 Batman costume. Faith Baptist brings in 1,000 to 1,500 kids each week, and during the series, which began in January, more than 200 accepted Jesus, Combs said.

Next phase of this project has Santa dressing up like Batman, then, over time, the plan is to supplant Jesus entirely. What could be cooler, or more deeply tragic, than Batman dying on the cross for our sins? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Squirrel Nutkin did it in the parlour with the candlestick
Drowning (not waving!) in the Rowling guagmire, I managed to find something for children that sounds actually innovative, and, wonders upon wonders, the article doesn't even mention the "the phenomenon". I swear it's as if every journalist in the world is trying to tie every story to Harry Potter. Susan Wittig Albert has written a children's mystery in which Beatrix Potter and her irascible animals go in search of a murderer. Here's the article and here's an excerpt (warning: if you are a Potter fan -- Beatrix not Harry -- get ready to laugh yourself silly. She's got the animal class system snobbery down pat). The Tale of Holly How; buy it here. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Omar Khayyam -- bound, drowned, bombed and bound again
Here's a book with a history, say.

The world's most magnificent book is also one of the unluckiest: it was lost on the Titanic, bombed and its bookbinder drowned.
But finally the jewelled binding of Persian poet Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat may have had a stroke of luck. This week it found a new home at the British Library's Treasure Gallery, where it went on public display.

(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Children and words
Words engross children. Television, on the other hand, engorges them. Like leeches, they suck and suck at the mainline of images and mental pablum until they go doppy and fall off, bloated and unable to move. Sorry. Once a month or so, I try to work leeches in here somehow. They're so fascinating. (discuss) (Posted by George)

So this is why everyone hates you...
Funny how topical this is, at least in my little life. It's like this strange troll who works at a bookstore I go to quite regularly. Every time I go in he spews quiet hatred and ugliness at me. I'm as friendly as I can be, but nada. Other customers he seems fine with. Me, he's fuming. I asked a colleague of his whether I had done something to offend and he said, "Oh no, he just hates you because you're a writer." I said, "He hates writers?" "No, he's a writer too. He just hates ones more successful than himself." Ding ding ding. Truth bell. (discuss) (Posted by George)

<enter> <esc> <enter> <esc> <Enter> <esc> <ENTER> <esc> <ENTER!!!> <ENTER!!!> <ENTER!!!> <ENTER!!!>
Should libraries go digital and say fuck it to the books? Where would the students have sex? (discuss) (Posted by George)

9/11 publisher finally names charities
Norton will give 600 large to three charities. This is about 20% of the money they made off a public domain book. Pack of lies or not, the book really belongs to the American people. Where's the rest of the dough going? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Ruralsecution complex
More on the government's slow murder of the rural library. (discuss) (Posted by George)

No, hope as you might, it's not a virtual hotdog with all the fixin's. Good ol' Frank is coming back online. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Rushdie: normal dude
Despite the ageing price on his head, Salmon Rushdie can now sweep his walk like a normal person... What? He's not sweeping? But what about that broom he's pushing around? Oh, I see. Let's try that again. Salmon Rushdie can now be seen in public with his beautiful bride. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Margaret Atwood in award spotlight

The $5,000 pot more of an honourarium, one would suppose. Maybe she can use it for garage sale pocket change? (discuss) (Posted by George)

In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the book deal, then you get the women...
A Columbian drug lord hopes to write a book to pay for his legal defence. It's a great world, init? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Children all over the world are mourning the death of a Harry Potter character. I say just remind the little ones of the scene in The Lord of the Rings when Gandalf dies (but not really). Or maybe, give them the whole resurrection analogy, Christ on a stick and all that. Whoever it is who dies (and the media is being very proper -- for fear of litigation, no doubt -- about not divulging this), will certainly appear in the last book. I'd wager on this. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Can adults read anything but children's books? Russell Smith weighs in [ed note: this link is now behind registration, which is baffling. If you get it from Google, you can get in, but you can't link to it. I find it strange that some papers still think they're going to make more money from online registration than advertising. The LA Times has already caved. It just doesn't work and turns readers off. Given that the Globe is about 86% columns and opinion pieces instead of the actual "news" part of "newspaper", most of their online content must be behind registration or off the wires. A sad state of affairs for the paper of record. Paper of record, if you can afford it. --G] on the infantilisation of literary culture or something like that. My son came home to tell me that by yesterday JK Rowling had earned 4.5 million dollars on her new book. Yes, we are all exuberantly happy for her. Uuuurgh! Is this the only book all these people read? Have people been saving up their attention spans these three years, and for this? I saw a man at a coffee house the other day with a copy of essays by Freud and a copy of the Half Bloody Prince -- now that's an interesting combo! (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Guess what? People are scanning Harry Potter and actually posting it on the internet. Apparently, enough money has been earned so the lawyers aren't baring their teeth. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Is Harry's success leading to bookstore failure? How ironic. What was that about the rich getting richer? Wasn't Harry Potter lauded for singlehandedly (I know books don't have hands) getting the wee tykes reading? Now where will they buy the next installment? (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Toronto Book Awards shortlist
Announced. Luckily HP is not set in Toronto. Come to think of it, has HP ever won any awards or been on any shortlists? Is there a lesson to be learned? (Phew, I think I have mastered my emotions now; I think I've finally got it all out. I'll try not to post any more on "THE PHENOMENON". Oh Lord, I need a nap.) (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


Bestseller lists: a woman's world?
I can just hear my dad now. That's just great, first he chooses poetry, and then he chooses being male... Wait. Um... Let's be honest. I didn't choose this. I was born a poet. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Something important involving people of importance in important places
Omigod! I scratch my eyes out with ecstasy! Publishing news like this is akin royal sightings for most of us. And about as important to our day. (discuss) (Posted by George)

What not to do with your acknowledgements page
I like these kinds of prescriptive lists. It's a sub/dom thing.

Rule #2: Don't Thank A Deity.
I don't know what is up with people who have found God, but they seem really insecure about God's continued approval, like He is their quasi-abusive boyfriend or neglectful Dad or something, so they have to keep thanking Him every five seconds. Klosterman thanks God for helping him to write a shortish, go-nowhere, cutesy book about a brief road trip he took to rock stars' death sites. This is kind of like R. Kelly thanking God for helping him to write a song called "Sex Weed," except less hilarious.

(Oooo! Does he like writing them or reading them? Gossssssip!) (From Maud) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The web as a double-edged butterfly knife in the writer's arsenal (next to the chains, baseball bats, and pointy quills)
This article about the web as a tool for writers says, don't fear! Ten years in and nothing's wrong. I find it quaint that people talk about the web/net as though it's finally reached the form it'll keep for the next 100 years. Like the automobile. Well, four tires and a combustion engine. Yep, see you in year 2145. The web is still in its larval state and there's no real way to predict where it will go. Though this thing made a great try. (discuss) (Posted by George)

On the bumper of my car: I brake for Andre Alexis
Oooo! Me want. (From Black Ink) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Anne Coulter: monstrous in personality AND ethics?
It seems the Republican rifle-barrel-wearing-a-wig has been caught plagiarising. Throw her in the lady clink with all the single mothers and welfare queens! (From Moby) (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bad timing runs rampant in London
First there was the author of The Incendiary, a story about terrorists running wild in London, then there was this: ad copy for Iain Banks's latest, The Algebraist, reading "a perfect place to have your mind blown to smithereens"... (discuss) (Posted by George)

Weekend Edition:

The administration and the fury
If William Faulkner wrote the story of the Bush administration.

Down the hall, under the chandelier, I could see them talking. They were walking toward me and Dick's face was white, and he stopped and gave a piece of paper to Rummy, and Rummy looked at the piece of paper and shook his head. He gave the paper back to Dick and Dick shook his head. They disappeared and then they were standing right next to me.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Buy stock in the New Yorker now
This DVD set is going to make the company a fortune.

The magazine's entire history will be there, 4,109 issues encompassing roughly 500,000 pages from its birth on Feb. 21, 1925, to its 80th anniversary last February. Packaged with a 123-page book featuring a foreword by current editor David Remnick and a timeline of the magazine's history illustrated by the first pages of many memorable pieces, The Complete New Yorker will retail for $100 (U.S.). On-line booksellers such as Amazon.ca and Barnes & Noble are already taking advance orders for $94.50 (Canadian) or $63 (U.S): both less than the price of a one-year subscription to the magazine in Canada. The magazine expects to issue updates on a regular basis.

Every cover, advertisement, cartoon, Talk of the Town, humour "casual," short story, profile, poem and piece of investigative journalism will be there, stored on a slim set of eight DVD disks yielding high-resolution images that can be viewed on a computer in single- or double-page-spread formats. Users will be able to browse issues through thumbnail images of the covers, or search for specific editorial content via keywords, departments, the name of the author or artist, or year of publication. Showing a shameless populist touch, the disks also provide a method of skipping straight to each issue's cartoons.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Canada bows to Bookninja pressure
Lets libraries keep special shipping rate.

McCallum, the minister responsible for Canada Post, issued a statement about the subsidy program, which allows libraries to mail each other books for rates substantially lower than commercial rates — usually less than a dollar a book.

In April 2005, the department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Post had agreed to a one-year extension of the book rate. In a release issued Friday, McCallum said the special rate will continue beyond April 2006.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Writers learn to love the web
And not just for porn and online poker.

Novelist Jasper Fforde has built up a substantial personal website since publishing his first book in 2001, with content dedicated to the alternate-reality Britain that provides the backdrop to his stories. He runs a selection of websites with his partner, fleshing out the world of his main character, the time-travelling literary detective Thursday Next.

I don't remember being particularly web savvy," he says about the origins of his online endeavours. "When we started jasperfforde.com, it was a curiosity: websites weren't a new thing, but they were new enough. I thought about the world I created, and I liked the idea of visualising it. I thought that would fit in well with the idea of a website; help blur the edges between what's real and what's not."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


How to win friends and influence people
Publicist extraordinaire Parmar Parmjit of Montana Ridge Enterprises describes the perfect publicist/author relationship in an article for Quill & Quire; here it is as a pdf or buy this month's hot Atlantic Canada issue. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Safran Foer caught cross-dressing in Berlin
I mean crossing genres.

Seven Attempted Escapes From Silence, an opera with a libretto by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, will debut at the Berlin State Opera on September 14.

I'd say, if you are a Bookninja Berliner this would be one to catch. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

The look-alike also rises
Bob Doughty finally wins the annual Hemingway Look-Alike contest in Key West; only took him 13 years. Hello? What a thoughtful way to honour a literary giant. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Patriot Act
Well, a few bombings later it's official and we're not getting rid of it. The ALA thinks it's Kafkaesque. No shit. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Faulkner censored
In perhaps related news: the Faulkner write-alike contest Pete noted over the weekend, was won by a parody of the Bush junta. Now the in-flight magazine that agreed to print it won't. It's a lovely morning, isn't it? (discuss) (Posted by George)

Naomi Wolf is dreamy
Here she dissects the conservative (nee Republican) attack on Hillary Clinton.

Edward Klein's new book, ''The Truth About Hillary,'' is not a biography, to be evaluated in terms of how well or poorly it relates to real events or a real person; it is something much more revealing -- a kind of cultural dreamwork, like that in 18th-century penny ballads that linked real political figures to folklore, giving them supernatural traits. In the stories that Klein tells, we can clearly see the collective unconscious of our culture at work, throwing up vivid, even lurid fantasies that emerge out of the shifting balance of power between women and men.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

The latest weapon of the Catholic church: the interweb

Da Vinci Code haters get a website devoted to debunking the book. Also, included with your registration, a gallery of Jesus brides and their naughty habits. (Can anyone find the actual site?) (discuss) (Posted by George)

The C to the H to the A to the U to the C to the E to the R, yo
The Canterbury Tales, gangsta style. (discuss) (Posted by George)

V for Very Very Bad?
Bookslut informs us the V for Vendetta trailer is online. Scary. On so many levels. (discuss) (Posted by George)


Typewriter porn
No, not that kind. Just loving shots of typewriters. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Book clubs for frosh
The homework begins now and ends when you drop out in December... er, graduate.

In a new project unusual among Canadian universities, McMaster's summer book club gives incoming students their first taste of campus life, albeit at a distance. Sixty-five students enrolled in the elite arts and science program received the book by mail in the past week.

The reading club is meant to offer a common bond for incoming students who might be nervous about starting university and making new friends.

Arriving in the next week will be a box of condoms, a sixpack of Red Baron and a pump-your-own-stomach kit. (discuss) (Posted by George)

...And if they study hard and apply themselves...
They could become a famous reading group like these blokes. (Robert McCrum at his warmest and fuzziest.)

Reading groups - apparently, there are no fewer than 50,000 of them in the UK alone - know that books make us free and books that bring readers together in argument and conversation make us free in a way that renews our humanity and celebrates the strange magic of English prose, a medium of almost limitless potential and surprise.

(discuss) (Posted by George)

On the move
African Caine Prize winner Segun Afolabi's top ten list of "on the move" books. (From Black Ink) (discuss) (Posted by George)

'Every dictatorship is aggravated by great literature'
More on Ismail Kadare and his "stunned" Nobel win. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Canadian on the bill in Oz for writerly discussion of "great causes"
John Ralston Saul will address the Melbourne Writers' Festival, discussing globalization and, you know, other things people throw rocks about. (discuss) (Posted by George)

Bookninja: The Website that Irritated the World
Publishers, it's time to find a new subtitle for those nonfiction books.

But for several years, nonfiction titles containing the words ''changed the world" (or a variation thereon) have become a publishing standby...The appeal of ''changed the world" is obvious. The words are simple. They're dramatic. They're intriguing (so how did mauve change the world?).

(From Arts Journal) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Sure, she has money, but... well, that's a lot of money
What happens to teen literary stars?

a youthful sensation doesn't always translate into a distinguished literary career. For many teen authors, that first book proves a hard act to follow. Some never again meet with the kind of praise critics heaped upon their first offerings.
Perhaps that should not come as a surprise. Writing a great book before the age of 20 is an accomplishment so extraordinary that some adults struggle to understand how it's even possible. They wonder how one so young can manage to write with authority in an original voice.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)


Canada Post tempts our wrath again
Now they want to raise postal rates for magazines. Did they not learn their lesson from the library fight?

Canada Post has announced an increase in postal rates for magazines mailed in Canada, effective in January. On heavier magazines like Flare or Cottage Life the hike will amount to between 5 and 8 per cent, and magazine publishers are alarmed.

According to Mark Jamison, chief executive officer of the trade association Magazines Canada, the cumulative increases in magazine postal rates in the past six years amount to a 70 per cent rise in costs.

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Cambridge Illuminations
Nice roundup of old-school illuminated manuscripts online. (From Metafilter) (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Oh dear me
Scientology takes India by storm. Does this mean that India is ready for a good dumbing down? Imagine being colonized by a religion that is a derivative of your nation's own ancient one? Just follow the rules, folks; take those fifteen minute saunas after each workout and your life will improve. Really. Look at Cruise. He's so damned healthy.

[Publisher] Goldenitz proposes to shortly have a network of scientology volunteers throughout the country. "That will make it easier for people in India to understand and practice scientology," he added.

A network? Eeeew. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

The bookless library has arrived and guess where?
Texas! They've cleverly removed all sign of erudition and renamed the facility a 'learning commons'. Common, indeed. Now don't you be messin' with Texas...(discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

I guess it's thought provoking and I guess it's kinda funny. Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. Watch as white folk everywhere get squirrelly sensations under their skin. Damali Ayo's website has that kind of gaspingly oh-jeez politically incorrect chord where you think you might laugh but aren't sure whether you ought. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Narraglyphic picto-assemblage
Meet Daniel Clowes, boring middle class narraglyphic picto-assemblager of Ghostworld. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Jesus loves you
This I know. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


The Seven Deadly Reviews
Envy, envy, envy, envy, envy, envy and envy.

Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient and Anil's Ghost, says that the worst review he ever received was for a stage adaptation of his book The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. "They stop bad meat at the border," the critic wrote. "Why not this?"

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Writer's Cafe
Check out the latest in audio interviews with Canuck scribes, including monthly features with writers from the Walrus. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Do used books cut into new-book sales?
A recent study says no. In my case it's hard enough finding the books I like new let alone used. Who knew erotica about copy editors would be so hard to find? (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Canadians are the best at bad writing!
Move over, hockey!
Cranbrook resident Kevin Hogg, paid homage to Mr. Bulwer-Lytton's, "It was a dark and stormy night," with his entry to this year's worst San Jose State University opening sentence contest.

"It was a dark and stormy night, although technically it wasn't black or anything - more of a gravy colour like the spine for the 1969 Scribner's Sons edition of A Farewell to Arms, and, truth be told, the storm didn't sound any more fierce than the opening to Leon Russell's 1975 classic, Back to the Island."

(discuss) (Posted by Peter)

The Pimp's Tale
Chaucer meets rap.

Baba had the idea of converting Chaucer into rap when he was doing a masters' degree on the poet in the late 1990s.
He said: "I tried to keep the rap versions as close as possible to the original, so I went through the tales line-by-line.
"It was a painstaking process to convert Chaucer into a rhyme scheme that young people would like."

Next up: A krumping version of King Lear. (discuss) (Posted by Peter)

Too bad they didn't have a community builders program in place when Bush went to school. It appears that Washington is trying to suppress a book about Osama bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora. I've read various accounts of what happened, the most hilarious and therefore most plausible is the one in which US 'intelligence' is tracking bin Laden on a cell phone, even though he has handed it to a right hand man and walked out of Tora Bora. Here's the Guardian's 2002 account, though this one is good too. Refugee Afghan women and children have documented the Tora Bora escapade in hundreds of garish/beautiful war rugs, an article about which I wrote and you can read here. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Artist stages theft of priceless...oh, come off it
Artist Wayne Hill, who claims somehow his bottle of water is worth vast sums of money, is upset because some poor thirsty poet (and, frankly, it's got to be a poet) saw it just sitting there on a bloody plinth (!!!) and obviously thought, "What a lucky thing." Really, if you go about making pretentious art pieces and calling them "Weapon of Mass Destruction" what can anyone expect? (discuss) (Posted by a committed lover of art)

If I ever have to stand trial in North Carolina, I'm going to insist on swearing oath on Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Do it yourself for the mentally ill
Save the Wales! Self-help books are being prescribed by Welsh doctors to mentally ill patients and guess what, it seems to work. Nothing like a little empowerment. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)


The Importance of Being Publicised
Yes, folks, publicty works.

"When I finally came to peace with my novel-writing obsession was when I came to the conclusion that it is my job/goal to write a novel good enough to deserve getting on the publishing roulette wheel. That's really all a writer can do," he observed in an e-mail message. "The rest, to some degree, is up to timing, luck, connections etc. And if you start dwelling too much on what it takes to get published or reading too much into what gets published or what does well, I think it not only hurts your chances of writing something strong and original, but it also nudges you closer to the writers' ward of the nearest mental hospital."

My ego just fell shrieking past my throat to the pit of my stomach. It's curled up in a tight little ball now. (discuss) (Posted by Kathryn)

Weekend Edition:

Where's the best place to buy used books online?
Jessa Crispin of Bookslut fame does the research for you.

Three of the books that arrived did, in fact, match the conditions indicated on the site. One book had underlined text, something not mentioned in the description. (There is no place to report this at Abebooks--unlike Alibris and eBay, Abebooks does not include bookseller ratings.) But I could return the book, as part of the 30-day guarantee offered on all book purchases. But for $4, I figure, I got what I paid for.

(discuss)  (Posted by Peter)

Academics -- Don Quixote or Sancho?
Annabel Lyon ponders the question at a writing conference in Spain.

Isn't Don Quixote driven mad by books, and doesn't he spend an inordinate amount of time interpreting reality as suits him best? And isn't Sancho (like a writer) the practical one, the one who sits a little closer to the ground?

(discuss)  (Posted by Peter)

The latest in e-paper
I can't wait until this stuff becomes mainstream. (Although it may really kill off our kind....)

The new product, first to be shown on July 14 at the Tokyo International Forum, is a film substrate-based bendable color electronic paper. Similar to Flash memory, the display integrates a non-volatile data memory function that is able to continuously display the same image without being connected to a power supply. Electricity is only needed when users want to change the displayed content. According to Fujitsu, the material used enables high-resolution and "vivid color" images that are unaffected even when the screen is bent.

(From Metafilter) (discuss)  (Posted by Peter)

A typical writer's schedule
And here I thought I was unique.

1. get coffee and drink half of it

2. check e-mail

3. check some other things

4. check my other e-mail and download the manuscript of my novel

5. get up and go to the bathroom

6. sit back down at the computer

7. check e-mail

8. maximize the manuscript of the novel in microsoft word

9. begin to read it

10. feel a little uninspired

(From Moby) (discuss)  (Posted by Peter)

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